You don't have event hosting in your job description. You are a passionate illustrator with an awesome idea for an industry meetup. Or an entrepreneur planning a launch event for your startup's product. Or maybe a vintage fashion fiend dying to organize a fair. Or someone really into molecular science but tired of all those academic seminars. All of you can definitely host the event you and your peers would actually like to attend.
First off, stop thinking about the event you want to organize, and think instead about the people you want to meet. Who are you trying to bring together? How would you approach them if you wanted to just catch up, or become friends? In that scenario, how would you convince them to get together, what for? That's basically your event pitch - no fluff, no glitter, just basic human connection based on a shared interest or objective.
Don't organize an event just because you're tired of texting and group chats. Decide early on what your event concept, or brand, is. You can read more about event branding here. The brand you create should serve as a perpetual reminder of the purpose of the gatherings, to you and everyone involved.
The most important result of your event is the opportunity you create for your attendees and yourself / your brand / your project to bond with each other. A well-hosted event becomes the foundation for a partnership, a professional or personal relationship between participants, ideas and solutions to common problems, future projects. Don't get caught up in complex event production that could raise a few admirative eyebrows but also easily miss the whole point of your event: to get people to talk. They don't need VR sets for that (at least not yet 😳).
Make sure your brand doesn't get diluted as you grow and expand your community - that means you might have to say no to some ideas and proposals that don't fit the vision of the community.
Assuming you are the main catalyst for this community coming together, your personality and the way you connect with people is as important as the event itself. You live for the energy created when kindred spirits gather and foster their passion. As an event host, you put people at ease and help them interact. Be yourself and be there, in the crowd, talking to everyone, introducing a new-comer to someone else you know in the group, starting debates, bouncing off ideas. Also, ask for feedback. Like directly, in person, from another person, at the actual event.
People are busy and bored at the same time. They have their schedules and hardly ever deviate from them. Therefore, you need to surprise them a bit, drag them outside of their routines and comfort zones. Mail a personalised invitation - no one will expect that. People are used to skipping email invitations all the time, but when it’s in their hands and under their noses, they’ll probably remember it. Invite them to a breakfast meetup - who doesn't like a legitimate excuse to be late for work? Change the setting and/or location with each new gathering. Propose controversial topics.
Nothing ever goes 100% according to the plan. But, by you turning into an agitated and stressed out mess, the event will be 100% failure. Keep your focus on what's important (the people!) and make sure everyone is comfortable and safe. That damn projector not working won't make or break the community. Still, it's important to improve from one event to the other, so ask for help from early supporters in the group, learn from mistakes, observe what makes attendees tick, organize better, get even more excited.
If this seemed more like an inspirational post than a checklist for hosting an event, great! That was precisely the intention. Now that you're hopefully all psyched up about getting something started in your community, you can sit down and plan it all out. Don't forget to invite us at the kick-off event!