Giving an event company a great brief very often means a better event, says Tracy Wood.

As event professionals, most of us will have experienced client requests to organise an event with brevity of instruction – cue the all too common, “We need to hold an event in Sydney for 350 people on the 10th of December”. For an event novice this may seem like a straightforward request. That is until you ponder all the possible eventualities. Is it a sit-down or cocktail event? Are you looking for a venue in the CBD or are you happy with something on the outskirts? What will your budget allow for?

And that’s just for starters.

A solid event brief lays the foundation for a successful event. It acts as the starting point for event professionals and encapsulates vital information often referred to throughout the event design process.

But what constitutes a good event brief? And more importantly, how do you guide your client through theirs to ensure you have all the information you need to create a relevant proposal?

First and foremost, the event’s objectives need to be clearly identified. Your client is spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on this event so it is important to establish what it is they are trying to achieve. Is it to launch and educate people on a new product? Is it to reward staff and enhance team morale? Whatever it may be, having a thorough understanding of the underlying purpose will ensure the subsequent event choices are well-suited.

Once this has been established, you will need to determine guest demographics. This may appear to be a seemingly insignificant detail, however can prove to be crucial in ensuring the intended event message is delivered in an impactful way.

Take, for example, a yearly Christmas party we produced for one of our key clients. Their goal was to thank their employees for their hard work by rewarding them with a themed end-of-year function that brought them back to their childhood. Without knowledge of the guest demographic, the term “childhood” would be difficult to define. Through further discussions with the client, we were able to discern that guests were typically Generation Y or Millennials and thus developed a Harry Potter design concept to suit.

Now equipped with key background information, all-important questions regarding budget are necessitated. While some clients may be hesitant to reveal how much they have to spend upfront, it is important to at least obtain a rough budget or range as this influences other factors such as the venues proposed and theming options.

For the Harry Potter event just mentioned, the allocated budget was reasonable and we were able to effectively work with the client in recreating the atmospheric wonder of a Hogwarts reality at the Australian Technology Park.

The venue’s historic locomotive parts and artefacts really brought the theme to life, providing the perfect backdrop for the movie’s Hogwarts Express at Platform 9¾.

Greeted with pre-dinner drinks and canapes (such as Butterbeer, reminiscent of the popular beverage from the movie), guests were then led on a journey through the eerie Black Smith workshops into Bay 4 where the room was split in two. In the first half, the atmosphere created was palpable; guests stood in silence as a smoke haze consumed the room and ominous owl calls filled the eardrums of all those in attendance. A spotlight cued in on the mezzanine level revealed the company’s CEO dressed as Professor Dumbledore giving his welcome speech.

The second half of the room was revealed with the release of an owl swooping overhead and a curtain drop exposing a magical Great Hall aesthetic, complete with hundreds of candles floating mid-air over four long tables and framed screens depicting ghostly animations. This is where the sit-down feast and awards ceremony took place. The aesthetics of the night was accompanied by entertainment by La Fiesta, roving magicians, and an impressive photobooth area.

The success of the event lay testimony to our ability to get the brief right the first time.

By asking our client important, probing questions, we were able to obtain vital information to ensure the event delivered was exactly to their requirements and ultimately brought their vision to life.

Tracy Wood is the director of Funktionality. She can be contacted on And visit to learn more.