How to Plan a Business Event: Breakfast, Lunch or…What Time is Best?


how to plan a business event

How to plan a business event: getting the timing right for your guests

Getting existing or prospective customers into a room for an event to hear more about a particular topic can be a great way to engage with them.

It’s also a good way to gauge reaction about the topic which can shape your marketing and sales strategy.

When it comes to how to plan a business event, you’ve probably already worked out what you will talk about, who you plan to invite, how long it will run for and what you hope to achieve. The only detail to confirm is – what time of the day will you hold it?

An appealing topic at the ‘wrong’ time of day, is not going to get you the audience that you want and it can fail to give your topic the attention it deserves.

So how to plan a business event that your audience wants to attend?

The topic, the time of day and venue need to be fit for the purpose and selected with the needs of your target market in mind.

In working out what time of day to hold a function it seems the default is breakfast or a lunch and learn. But is it? A considerable amount of planning goes into putting on an event and timing is a key factor. Timing can have a significant impact on the number of people who agree to attend and the success of your event.

For example, a function aimed at female entrepreneurs in the fitness industry who work with new mothers would work best after 5pm, a time they are less likely to be working with clients.  An event targeting HR Directors of large businesses, who are often females with school aged children, are likely to respond best to lunch functions. They have to eat lunch anyway, so why not take the opportunity to combine lunch with networking or learning about issues that affect their area?

Of course, there is no right or wrong time of day to hold an event. When it comes to how to plan a business event what will work best depends on your target market and how they like to engage. For time-poor women or dads responsible for young kids in the morning, breakfasts are often not a great option. For single parents, this time of day is even less appealing as they juggle getting their kids out of the house with preparing for their own working day.

If attending an event means putting extra stress onto an already busy time of the day, most working parents will avoid it. That is unless it is related to their work and is a must-attend event, then they’ll find a way to make it work. Most parents have fixed commitments each week day. Things like school drop-offs, packing lunches and checking homework are already factored in.  Doing these tasks two hours earlier isn’t particularly appealing.

So how do you pick the best time to hold your function?

  • Ask your customers before you lock in a time – you could offer a few different timeslots and see which one polls best. Of course, filling in a poll is easy and making a booking is different so there is no guarantee of success but it’s a more informed start.
  • Know your target market – if you’re targeting new parents then work out a time that isn’t going to place extra stress on them.
  • Create a great event that will have people changing their diaries to attend – to do this, don’t just make it all about your product or service but tie it into a broader theme that is likely to strongly interest your target market.

When it comes to any kind of business function or event, timing is often the key factor that determines the outcome. But by being willing to put in a little research to find out what works best for your target market, you’ll give the event the best chance possible to be a success.