Whether your event is a simple meeting of ten people within your organization or a conference of 500 attendees, the basics of event planning remain the same. Anyone who has coordinated the schedules of ten people to attend a meeting in the same place at the same time understands that it takes more than a few minutes. It can take several hours to coordinate busy people's every-changing schedules.

On a grander scale, the details in planning a conference for 500 people can be overwhelming. It is often best to hire a professional conference planner for such events because they have a larger staff, more current expertise with all the venues in town, the suppliers, the caterers, etc. That said, you should still use the information in this book to ensure, for yourself as the organization's representative, that all the details are covered to your satisfaction and so that you come across as a knowledgeable client to the event planner.

This book uses the example of planning for an event of about 100-300 people. It is not a full scale conference but, perhaps, a day-long workshop or meeting with one or several speakers. This example will allow you to see the specific planning for such an event but also allow you to see how the information is applicable to what you are planning.

A Note of Caution

Plan for the best outcome and expect things to go wrong. Like a wedding, the process can be joyful or painful depending on the attitude of the planners and participants. No wedding was ever perfect. There will be glitches. It is how you plan for and react to the glitches that defines whether the event was a success or not.

Take the process seriously but not solemnly. If you have no fun as the principle planner, then few other people will enjoy themselves either. There are people who come together 10 years after planning a major event who still greet each other with a laugh and a "Do you remember when.!" That is your goal. To plan an event when everyone involved feels pride in both the up-front planning and the event itself.


How you plan is partly based on your general work style. To make sure my own work-style preferences have not biased this book, I have asked other event planners and speakers to review the material. I am grateful to the following reviewers for adding clarity, information and encouragement for the readers.

Cathleen Fillmore is President of Speakers Gold, the Proactive Speaker's Bureau and author of four books. She is the founder of a Six-Figure Speaker coaching program and is a sought after speaker in her own right.

Nellie Jacobs is a trend-setting speaker, author and consultant focusing on personal potential, education, and business ( Nellie's ground-breaking book Grading the Teacher ­ A Parent's Guide is featured at

Arlene Jorgenson is a Clinical Nurse Specialist and is the founder and president of an occupational health consulting company with two award-winning clinics in Saskatchewan. Also a professional speaker and author, she specializes on the topics of nurse appreciation, and in personal and organizational success.

Robert MacDonald is a designer, publisher and marketer, and the director of the Media Futures Institute. He is based in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Deb Thivierge is a management and organization development consultant with many years experience organizing special events and educational programs.

My love and gratitude to Janet Klees, my life's partner and guide, who did the first edit of this book. Janet's experience as a writer, speaker and mentor to many has helped ensure that the content of this book was specific, relevant and immediately useful.


To the individuals, groups and organizations
who invite me to speak to them and whose ideas
and work constantly refresh my own thoughts,
actions and teaching.

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Event Planning Guide

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Copyright © 2006 Harry van Bommel

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