How to plan an event so people show up

Let me know if you’ve seen a Facebook event that reads something like this:

“Hey…so I’m thinking about getting some KBBQ this or next week…Suggestions? Anyone down?”

Time: TBD

Location: Somewhere in Korea Town

This type of event usually crashes and burns, because it’s NOT a Facebook event. It should be a status update instead. Now, I by no stretch of the imagination claim to be an event planner.

But I’ve seen enough of what works and doesn’t work. Let me give you the quick and dirty:

1. People like being told what to do

Have a clear idea what you want in an event. Making decisions is a mentally taxing activity. Most people rather not decide and just have a nice event to look forward to without having to do much work.

Good luck if you start an event by asking people what to do. At best you’ll get a confusing range of answers, at worst no one responds. The latter sucks.

Start by proposing the time and location of the event and show that you’ve put some thought into it. Give a reason, like hey there’s new bar in town with a fondue fountain, or there’s great sightseeing in the area you’re going.  If you have to, throw up a location and date anyway but put “event still in early stage, but change to better fit people’s schedules.”

2. Don’t give too many options; curate instead. 

In the spirit of the first point, give as little options as you can, preferably none. This is not to be a dictator, but to simply avoid analysis paralysis, or “death by decision.”

I would avoid putting down 3 restaurants and asking for a vote. Actually I would avoid a vote altogether.

What works better is to start the event together with a friend/having talked to friends beforehand to get a feel of what people want. Then present it all on a silver platter.

By the way, this is part of why I love In N Out and Chipotle –there’s bliss in the spare menu. Much less work than spending 20 minutes browsing through the 200+ items on a Chinese restaurant menu.

3. Bullet Points

Put your information in concise bullet points. Often good information get lost in long blocks of text and unnecessary personal blabbering. It’s good practice to start with a short 1 – 2 sentence intro about the event, followed by:

  • TIME: Choose a time that’s 30 minutes before when you really want it to happen. People are late all the time.
  • VENUE: Include a link to the Yelp page and give a little blurb about what makes this place so great.
  • DRIVERS: Volunteer yourself and/or call out a trusted friend (“Michael, would you mind being a driver with me?”)

And any other big categories you think are important to bullet out. Speaking of the last category…

4. Volunteer yourself first 

It makes it so much easier when you create an event and just automatically volunteer to drive. It shows goodwill and gets people invested your event faster. I always felt kind of sheepish creating an event and demanding that others volunteer to drive first. If you have good friends, they’ll know who drove last time and won’t let you do it over and over again.

5. Get Visual

People remember pictures, so put on an enticing, funny or easy-to-remember picture as your Facebook event. It’ll make your invitees want to click on it over and over again and encourages participation.

6. Last Reminders

Remember, when it comes to events, people generally don’t like to think or make decisions. They like being told what to do. So make it easy on them and create your next Facebook event with the above points in mind.

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