While there are an incredible number of fantastic blog posts out there that cover every conceivable aspect of event planning, the problem is that these helpful posts only cover one aspect of event planning at a time. This is why we at eVenues decided to create a "Very Big" list of event planning tips organized by category. The idea is to create a sort of "cliff's notes" type resource covering every aspect of event planning. When relevant, we'll be linking to articles that talk about these event tips in more detail.

Contributions to this event planning tips list are welcome! I will be sure to provide credit to everyone who contributes. Just email me at kenji [at] evenues.com. Just send me 2-3 sentences for your event tip, and feel free to link to an article you've written that touches upon the topic as well!

Table of Contents:

Before The Event: The Planning Process

  • Conduct research of events with similar goals and purposes: Search events on Meetup.com, Facebook, Eventbrite and Plancast. Attend some of these events if possible. 
  • Reach out to attendees of similar events. Save the names of public invite lists (often found on Eventbrite events), that way you can reach out to attendees to learn what they liked about the event and what might useful for yours, not to mention the fact that you can invite them to your event later.
  • Set Goals! Why are you putting this event together in the first place? Some possible goals might include: fundraising, lead generation, pubic relations, recruitment, inspirational, a sales presentation, relationship building, motivational or educational.
  • Make sure that the date of your event doesn't conflict with other large events.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Small Meeting Tips (Board Meetings, Off-Site Meetings)

  • When putting together an agenda for a board meeting, consider using Google Docs so that everyone can review the agenda beforehand. The great thing about Google Docs is that everyone involved can make comments or raise questions directly in the document. This can save a lot of time before beginning the meeting. [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding Event Sponsorships

  • "Event sponsorships straddle the fine line between the desires and motivations of sponsors and attendees. Sponsors are driven by leads, demos and opportunities, while attendees tend to be learning focused. To increase the likelihood that attendees will engage with your sponsors, allow attendees to define the sponsorship packages." -- Dennis Shiao, Director, Product Management at Dot Net Nuke
  • Research past events similar to yours that may have had sponsors. See if you can’t contact the event organizer to get the names and contact info of the sponsors.
  • Before contacting potential sponsors determine what benefit a company organization will get by sponsoring your event. Will they be allowed to mention their product/service to event attendees? Is this product/service something attendees would want?
  • Use a sponsor directory like SponsorHub to find potential sponsors.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding The Right Venue

  • Go to eVenues.com and do an initial search for venues in your city. If there happen to be a lot of listings in your city, filter the results by capacity and price using the filter on the left hand side of the screen.
  • If search isn’t turning up the venue you need, consider using the eVenues Full Serve option, where you specify exactly what you need in a venue and the eVenues staff will get back to you with some venue options, free of charge.
  • Be sure to get information about: parking and transportation, WIFI and A/V Capabilities, the venue's catering policy (Is catering in-house only or is outside catering allowed?), venue accessibility.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding Speakers for Your Events

  • See if you can't find speakers for your events from industries other than your own. These speakers can provide a fresh perspective on your industry or field that are often overlooked. Use services like Klout and Followerwonk to find the thought leaders in these areas to identify these speakers.
  • Go on youtube to find videos covering topics that you might be interested. See if you can't get in touch with these speakers. Also, consider looking at speakers lists from local TEDx and Ignite talks to see if anyone in these lists could be a good fit for your events.
  • Set up a survey form on your blog (or event better, your event website) and get your attendees to pick the speakers for your event.
  • If you're having trouble finding speakers through direct outreach, consider going through a Speaker's Bureau and have them help you out.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Marketing Your Event

  • Create an online event flyer: One way to set your event’s online presence apart from the rest is to create a shareable stand alone web page with its own unique design. Smore, for example, allows its users to create an event flyer with a professional look and feel.
  • "Keep people first. Remember that technology, social media and education, experience and space design are all just tools we use to help people engage. As we eye a growingly diverse participant group in terms of both age and culture, it will be incumbent upon us to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of all attendees, each of whom wants an increasingly individualized experience." -- Jessie States, Education Content Designer, Meeting Professionals International
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Catering and Menus

  • "The caterering trends right now are more self serve. Make your own salad,make your own tacos. People like to control what they eat." -- JoAnn Gregoli, Elegant Occasions
  • "In order to make a wedding dinner an extraordinary experience, pay attention to all of even the smallest details of your meal. The champagne should be chilled, the food should be unique and special to you as a couple and do not forget….The Bread." [Further Reading] --Jaime Geffen, YourBash!
  • "When communicating your budget to your caterer, keep this in mind as 35% of your budget goes to food, 25% to staff and 30% to rental equipment…and then 10% for tax. Your caterer will be able to help you figure out what is available to you and help you create a catering budget." --Anthony NavarroLiven It Up Events. [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Event Registration

  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

A/V and Venue Setup

  • "How do you transcend the counters and headers [of a mundane area like a regstration space? Simple: Use audiovisual. Try pumping fun music into the area—trust me, having some trendy beats or even Beyoncé is a simple way to elevate the registration experience. Another great way to spice things is up is a creative use of lighting.

    At my 3-day conference we lit up registration in a different color each day (day one was pink, day two was blue and day three was green). Attendees noticed the fresh feel each time. It signaled to them that this day was different and full of new energy." -- Wayneston Harbeson, article excerpt from expoweb.com.

  • "Don’t be afraid to think out of the box with A/V support – it’s an area where most people fear due to lack of knowledge in this specialized area. Most venues have in-house preferred, not required, providers, so you can always look at bringing in YOUR preferred vendor instead. Think about adding some simple lighting with lots of color to transform the room, moving gobos on the walls and floors, and scenic frames around your video screens instead of the typical black drapes." --Michael Vargo, Director, Special Events at The Walt Disney Company
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Music and Entertainment

  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Keeping Your Meetings Sustainable

  • "With the release of so many new standards for sustainable meetings in the last couple of years, it's easy to get overwhelmed. My suggestion is to start by using them for inspiration. Much like cookbooks that you read to get ideas for your own recipes, the standards can be helpful for great tips and recommendations that you then blend with your own creativity to develop your unique sustainable meeting." -- Mariela McIllwraith, MeetingChange
  • "Increase your event sustainability with reduced printing. Calculate your current paper use as a benchmark and communicate your goals by estimating your CO2, waste, and water savings with your attendees. Use the free meeting sustainability calculator http://ativsoftware.com/co2-calculator-for-paperless-events/. Learn 10 strategies towards a paperless meeting at http://ativsoftware.com/2012/07/10-strategies-towards-paperless-events-conferences-and-meetings/" --Silke Fleischer, Executive and Co-Founder at ATIV Software
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

New Technology uses for Events

  • "Eliminate your 10-pound 3-ring conference binder by using an iPad or other tablet." --Corbin Ball, Corbin Ball Associates. [Further Reading]
  • "If it is important to focus on demographics besides geography and the potential audience is located on a national or global scale, then virtual technologies can assist with extending the reach of the event. If this is the case, consider the optimal agenda to enable multiple time-zone participation." -- Elizabeth Glau, Building Blocks Social Media.
  • "Look to television for ideas that are more suited to a remote audience, for example man on the street interviews, talk show and news desk formats designed for broadcast." -- Jenise Fryatt, Icon Presentations [Further Reading]
  • "When it comes to event technology, it is important that the technology that you select, aligns with your event goals. Rather than starting with the technology, start with what you want to accomplish and then evaluate your tech options. This will help to achieve your goals and increase your chance of technology adoption at your meeting." --Jessica Levin, Seven Degrees Communications
  • "Whether you’re new to the meetings profession or are a seasoned meeting planner (one who hasn’t used a CVB since pre-internet days when they were your easiest information source), a CVB is worth a look. Technology tools ranging from conference microsites, social media assistance, online housing systems, interactive maps are available to conferences and meetings even in smaller destinations. Don’t assume that only Tier 1 cities can offer technology assistance. Also, most CVBs will provide assistance even if your conference booked directly with a hotel." --Janis Ross, Executive Director of Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

After the Event: Making Assessments

  • "After the digital event pull a report of exactly who logged in during the LIVE streaming and login duration. From there categorize these attendees by industry, title, organization type, etc. You can then use this data to develop more targeted marketing for your next digital event." --Deb Greif, bxbGroup
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!