Easy Event Planning: Top 10 Tips From Professional Event Planners

CC Image by Jeffrey Zeldman

Event planning can be stressful, confusing and incredibly time-consuming – this is especially true when you are a volunteer or organization board member without a background in event planning!

Fear not! We’ve rounded up our ten top picks for easy event planning “Pro Tips” from professional Event Planners and Keynote Speakers to help you achieve success with your performing arts organization’s next special event, meeting, conference or fundraiser.
Pro Tip #1: Communication is Key
“In the event industry, how well you communicate with vendors can make or break your event. If you forget to give the caterer the final head count and they order food based off your initial estimate, it could cost your company a lot of money for food not consumed. With hotels, it is always as important to talk to the sales person about the needs of your event, as it is the front desk manager. Always take time to meet the front desk manager prior to the first guest’s arrival. Give them your group’s rooming list and clue them into the payment method for your group. Their staff interaction with the guest could be the first experience they have at the event.”

– Jennifer Winn, National Event Planner with Winn Events

CC Image by AJ Cann Pro Tip #2: Be a Pro-Active Planner
“Effective event planners are always pro-active. They schedule everything in their calendar and make sure to create a checklist for every event. Pro-active event planners plan for contingencies and make sure that there is always a back-up plan.”

– Kelvin Chen, of Go Big Event
Pro Tip #3: Acting as Ambassador
“The event planner is the ambassador of the event organizer (or organization) and needs to create and manifest their vision. Be everywhere and follow up with every crew-member’s progress.”

– Don Zilleri, of Bids by Pros
Pro Tip #4: Maximizing Benefits of the Keynote Speaker
“Your keynote speaker may be happy to help you with promotion ahead of time. It’s quite possible, actually, that we are better at promotion than you are. And by helping promote the event (brief teaser webinars, mentioning you in tweets, etc.) we keep our promotional chops fresh.”

– Micah Solomon, Keynote Speaker
Pro Tip #5: Use a “Blank Canvas” Venue
“Sometimes planners choose a large empty space because it’s cheaper than a furnished area, however, decorating the space to make it feel intimate can be as costly as the difference! In order to keep your theme and stay within budget try “up-lighting,” which uses color filters and patterns for a dramatic effect. This can be cheaper than large furniture and you can customize the lighting for different times and moods of the same event!”

– Elana Plotkin, Meetings Coordinator with Biophysical Society
Pro Tip #6: To Snack, or Not to Snack
“If your event will be longer than two hours, your guests will expect at least a snack to eat. You should have a meal if your event is longer than four hours. At all times, you should have at least water and coffee available to your guests.”

– Announcing It Invitation Shop

CC Image by Maria Luisa Buccella Pro Tip #7: Room Arrangement Matters!
“It matters how the room is arranged. Round tables are the most common kind of seating at conferences – and the worst for speaking audiences.”

– Dr. Nick Morgan, Professional Communications Expert

“The reason you want to avoid seating your audiences at round tables is that rounds ensure a lot of the audience has its back to the speaker. Plus, they put distance between people, which can reduce the synergistic effect of humor on a crowd.”

– Micah Solomon, Keynote Speaker

CC Image by Cydcor Offices Pro Tip #8: Filling the Front Rows
“Nothing looks worse than empty tables in front of your stage, especially when you have a guest speaker. When I want to make sure the tables in front of my stage are full I put reserved signs on the last two rows of tables in the ballroom which forces people to look at tables closer to the stage. Once those front tables are filled I pull the reserved signs and fill the tables in the back of the room too. It really works great!”

– Dan Lough, Project Coordinator with United Transportation Union
Pro Tip #9: Be a Problem-Solver
“The most effective event planners are excellent problem solvers. To become a better problem solver always follow these four steps: understanding the problem, devising a plan, carrying out the plan, and looking back at the results.”

– Kelvin Chen, of Go Big Event

CC Image by Kristen M Pro Tip #10: Get Personal
“Identify first time attendees and follow-up with them after the meeting. Send them a personalized note (which can be easily accomplished through a Word merge) thanking them for attending, inviting them to give feedback, and giving them information about the next meeting [Note: this is also applicable to upcoming events or performances].”

– Jolene McNeil, Associate Director of Meetings and Conventions with the American Psychiatric Association

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