Planning the Event

The most important decision to make in planning an event is "who is going to do the work?" Some would argue that it is more important to decide about the theme of the event or who the speaker(s) will be. It doesn't really matter the order as much as a recognition that nothing will get done until someone or a committee takes on the event and makes it their own.

One Planner or a Committee?

There are benefits and drawbacks to having either one person or a committee organize the event:

One Person Coordinator

  1. One person in charge of all aspects of the event ­ faster decision making

  2. There are often people within organizations who genuinely enjoy the opportunity of putting on an event ­ it can benefit their resume

  3. Other staff and/or volunteers can be recruited by the coordinator for specific jobs (often a better personality mix)

  4. Drawbacks:

  5. All the stresses rest on one person

  6. Few backups if person forgets important information

Event Committee or Workgroup

  1. Several people to share the load so that if one cannot fulfill their responsibilities, (e.g., illness, emergency) others can take over

  2. Possibly representatives from different departments to provide their perspective, expertise and to ensure everyone feels involved in the event

  3. Easier to provide transition from one event-planning committee to another

  4. Requires more documentation of how things are done rather than details kept in a single coordinator's memory

  5. Drawbacks:

  6. Must accommodate people's work and personality styles ­ possibility of more conflicts

  7. Slower decision-making process to accommodate people's schedule

Time Lines for Preparation

Once a decision about the "who" is decided, the next big step is deciding how much time you have to prepare for the event. Sometimes that decision will be made by someone else and you will have to work within those deadlines. At other times, you will have more control over the timing of the event.

The size and complexity of your event will determine how much time you should spend on preparing for it. A meeting of 10 people, for example, may take only a few hours to organize a few weeks before the event. A one-day workshop with an out-of-town speaker(s) and participants can take between 2-6 months, depending on how many people can help you. A one-to-five day large conference can easily take 12-15 months to organize especially if you want to book well-known speakers and locate the event in a popular venue.

In Appendix 2 there is a draft of a 3-month time line plan to prepare for a one-day workshop. This is a sample only but will give you an idea of the major steps needed in planning for such an event.

There is software available that may help in your planning process. If you plan to do a lot of learning events and conferences, it is worthwhile finding a program that will provide help with budgeting, registration, name tags, speaker information, contracts, etc. Your organization may already have this software in their public relations, information technology or communications departments. Otherwise, check with a local event planner or software company to find out what is most suitable for your needs. Incorporate the cost of the software into your budget.

Choosing a Theme and Type of Event

Whether you begin with the previous step ("who will do the work?") or with choosing the theme and type of event is not important. Both need to be done almost immediately. Similarly the type of event you want and its length may determine the theme or vice versa. For example, a short seminar is not suitable for a theme of "changes in the global economy" as it would take much longer to discuss. Similarly, a one-day workshop for managers on "how to properly answer your telephones" is also unsuitable because it would be much too long for the topic and only a few managers would show up.

In choosing a theme and the type of event, you must first answer a few fundamental questions.

Purpose and Audience

1. What do you want to accomplish with your event? You can divide this into two sets of objectives:

educational objectives (e.g., educational, problem solving, information sharing, selling, build consensus),

experiential objectives (e.g., motivational, entertaining, feeling part of a group, encourage team work).

This will be your mission statement for the event.

2. Who is the audience? (Who are the participants? How many are expected? Who does the organization(s) want to be there and why?)

3. Who are the stakeholders to the event? Who has approval/decision making authority?

4. How long do you have?

5. What theme best meets the audience needs and those of the organization?

6. How much planning time do you have?

7. What type of venue is wanted; e.g., in-house, hotel, retreat, conference center? The type of event will impact specifically on the budget, the attendance and the timing as well. For example, a one-day workshop with one well known speaker during a relatively "slow work period" is easier to plan, more economical and more likely to succeed then a two-day conference with multiple lesser-known speakers held in mid-December.

Event Theme

Once you know the purpose, audience and type of event you want to hold, you can determine the theme. Consult with some of your potential participants (people attended) and stakeholders (people making decisions to hold the event) to make sure the theme fits their expectations. Often the needs are not entirely the same for both participants and stakeholders. It is important to meet as many of each group's needs as possible for the event to be successful and, perhaps, repeated in the future.

Themes can be either specific or general enough to give the speaker(s) some flexibility in their presentation. Too often, however, speaker(s) come with a 'canned' presentation with only nominal changes to their presentation to touch on the theme for the day. The more you discuss the theme with the potential speaker(s) the clearer their mandate will be.

Here are some different theme categories:

Immediate professional skills development around a specific set of learning needs

Increase your communication skills by 50% in the next 30 days

The 3 things supervisors can do to increase staff motivation and retention

How to help people who are frustrated and angry

Immediate personal skills development around a specific set of learning needs

Balancing work and home life ­ it is possible!

Stress and time management for a lifetime

Resolving conflicts ­ why you must resolve them for your own sake; not for others

Emerging Trends (in your area of service or expertise)

The effect of instant information through the internet on client expectations

How the "back to a simple life" movement will affect HR recruitment and retention

Balancing work and home life for young parents

Long-term strategic planning

The global market and how it will affect you in the next 10 years

Potential merger scenarios and how to deal with each

Becoming a 'learning organization' in the new millennium

Collaborative relationship building

Best case scenarios of interdisciplinary and inter-agency cooperation

Why community health care organizations should lead the way

The 7 best ways to encourage cooperation between organizations serving the same public

On Your Own or Working with Other Organizations

For a one-day event, it is not difficult for one organization to do most of the event planning. However, there may be a strategic benefit in combining the efforts of several organizations. For example, if three community organizations are trying to improve their working relationships with the same people they serve (e.g., a hospital, a community nursing group, a community support agency), then working together is one more way for staff and volunteers to get to know each other and enjoy the results of a successful event. Aside from sharing the workload there are other benefits in working with other groups:

1. You expand your audience for the event (they will send some of their staff and volunteers where otherwise they might not)

2. You expand the marketing capabilities of the event by having each organization reach out to their own network of contacts

3. You have a greater likelihood of finding a free or lower cost venue for the event (e.g., one of the organizations may have a suitable room for the event or have contacts with a local hotel, community center or faith community hall).

4. You share the costs and risks.

5. You share the responsibilities. Some of the disadvantages of working with other groups are that: 1. The process is likely to take longer as more people are involved who must talk with their organization before decisions can be made.

2. You share the revenues.

3. You share the 'goodwill' for the event.

4. You may have different approaches, personalities, agendas and goals.

Whatever decision you make, it is important to make the event as accessible, useful and cost effective for your allies in the community as possible. Events can be a wonderful opportunity to build bridges and open up new opportunities with others in the community.


Sponsorships provide a way to reduce the overall cost of an event (often with some or all of the sponsorship money available before the event) and/or a way to raise extra money. If you are holding a one-day workshop, for example, you may want one or more sponsors to pay for the speaker(s) fees, the room rental or other costs. Any profits from registrations and other sources could then be used to subsidize attendance or planning for future learning events.

Consider the following groups for sponsorships:

  1. local business,

  2. allied groups (i.e., groups similar to yours in purpose and audience),

  3. governments (local, regional, provincial, federal),

  4. charities/foundations,

  5. others you know about through your own network.

Start with organizations with which you already have a good relationship. As well as these potential sponsors, ask your speaker(s) and any organizations you are working with on this event if they have any sponsorship contacts. A speaker may have a working relationship with a sponsor who helps cover some of the speaker's fee in exchange for one or more of the benefits listed below.

Sponsors want something in return for giving you hundreds or thousands of dollars. You can offer some or all of these benefits depending on how much the sponsor is willing to contribute.

1. You can offer exclusive benefits to one sponsor. Exclusive means the sponsor is the only one with the rights and benefits of sponsoring the entire event including the only one to have their name recognized by and with the event.

2. You can offer various levels of sponsorships. For $1000 a sponsor gets Platinum recognition for their sponsorship (i.e., larger logo on materials, more visibility, best spot in an exhibit hall). Gold ($500) and Silver ($250) levels would also get recognition but in less visible ways. Alternatively, you can divide up sponsorship fees so that the Platinum sponsor sponsors the overall day while Gold sponsors lunch and Silver sponsors the snack breaks.

3. Each sponsor will have its corporate name and logo on all promotional material, any banners, and on handout materials for the workshop.

4. Sponsors can include a brief paragraph or welcome letter into the handout package for each participant outlining their commitment to your workshop theme.

5. Sponsors may have a booth or display at the event to promote their products and services. A special morning or afternoon break session can be included in the agenda for the day to provide extra time for participants to view the displays. Most sponsors value this one-on-one time with participants and, in turn, the participants want to remain up-to-date with current products and services that might help them in their work. One sponsor can be given exclusive rights to sponsor this break with snacks and drinks in return for the best location in the exhibit area.

6. The sponsors are reaching their niche market (e.g., baby boomers) and may provide each participant with a 'gift' of a pen, pad of paper or similar item with their name and logo on the items.

7. Each sponsor can promote their sponsorship of the event through their own newsletter, flyers, advertising, or banners at other events.

8. You can have a formal media launch to highlight the event and recognize the sponsors including an opportunity for photographs.

9. The sponsors will be reminded that they will have added name recognition within their community as an active 'partner' in promoting this event ­ i.e., excellent good will.

10. A mutual link between the web sites of the hosting organization and the sponsors is another way to provide sponsors with recognition and potential sales.

NOTE: Be conscious of sponsors that are perceived to be negatively linked with your overall theme or your own organization's general image. For example, it might to avoid having a casino sponsor a workshop on addiction prevention nor a cigarette company sponsor a health care event or a workshop for teenagers.


It is important to keep track of the revenues and expenses for any event. Don't assume that little costs don't matter (e.g., paper clips, pens, markets, and tape) ­ if you do not keep track of these costs, you will not have a fair estimate of the actual cost-benefit to holding similar events.

One of the costs that may, or may not, go into a budget is actual staffing costs. This can be a misleading item in a budget unless you hire someone only for event planning. For example, if you are organizing a large conference, then the cost of hiring an event planner or company to do that for you is clearly an expense.

However, if someone in the organization takes on planning a one-day workshop as part of their work load, then you might choose not to include their time as an expense since you would have to pay them their salary anyway. The distinction is important only in regards to how much revenue you may want to generate from such an event. If the revenues are (1) to cover that person's salary and (2) raise funds from the event for other programming, then the registration fee would likely have to go up substantially to cover both goals. This may, in turn, reduce the number of people who want to attend the event.

Here are possible sources of Revenues and Expenses. Appendix 3 provides a simple example of a one-day workshop's budget.


Registration fees

Sponsorship fees

Grants (e.g., from charities, not-for-profits, government sources)

Advertising (e.g., in the event program, on flyers/brochures/posters and in handout material)

Donated materials

Donated room rental

Donated audio-visual equipment

Donated media pre-coverage and coverage of the event itself (newspaper, local radio and TV)

Donated "Public Service Announcements"

Donated "gifts"


Speaker(s)'s fee

Speaker(s)'s Travel and Accommodation

Overhead for paper, copying, pens, pencils, markers, tape, etc.

Room Rental including meeting space to plan the event

Food (lunch, snacks, drinks)

Audio-visual rentals

Promotional materials (flyers, brochures, newspaper ads)

Planning and registration software package to help organize all the information related to the event

"Thank you" gifts, if any, to speakers, sponsors, staff, volunteers, and others

Staffing costs (on a per hour basis)

Any extra costs to assist/accommodate people with their physical or intellectual needs. Ask participants if they require any assistance to fully participate in the event rather than offering a 'blanket' accommodation to everyone which often looks good on paper but is expensive and rarely meets individual people's needs. For example, it is not necessary to have:

  1. all of your handout material transcribed into Braille if no one needs it,

  2. translation devices for an audience where everyone speaks English,

  3. portable ramps to enter and leave the building if no one is using a wheelchair.

Quietly offering individuals what they require is often less expensive, less time-consuming and much more appreciated.

Insurance ­ often the venue has insurance to cover some of the items below. Some of the other items may be unnecessary to insure against (e.g., speaker cannot make it) because you have a back up speaker available locally.

  1. for damages to venue,

  2. for canceling the event due to circumstances beyond your control, e.g., extreme weather conditions (e.g., flooding, hurricane), airline or transit strike, terrorism

  3. failure of the speaker(s) to appear

  4. for liability, e.g., loss or damage to participants' property, a participant's injuries while at the workshop

  5. failure to vacate the venue on time

  6. legal and contractual liabilities.

Some of these costs must be covered up-front. For example, speakers typically charge 50% of their fee in advance to reserve that date. The remaining fee is due on the day of presentation. Hotels, audio-visual companies, promotional materials, may all require at least a deposit if not the full amount.

Sponsorships will help cover some of those initial expenses up front. Registrations would be used to cover the remaining costs on the day of the event or soon after. In determining whether an event can go ahead or not, it is important to know what other sources of money you can use up front to cover early expenses. One source might be from the education, professional development or the public relations budgets within your organization. You will, naturally, have to return the loan immediately after the workshop. It may be helpful to create a proposed budget (revenue and expense estimates) before contracting with the venue, speaker(s), etc. to determine if you have sufficient up-front money and expected returns to make the event financially successful. The greatest risk is that the event will not generate sufficient revenue to cover all expenses. That potential financial risk must be acknowledged and understood at the beginning of the process so that the decision makers are clear on the risks and potential benefits of hosting an event. In some cases, a hosting organization is willing to run at a "loss" financially if the event succeeds in promoting public awareness of the organization and/or increased cooperation between groups within the community.

Choosing a Speaker

Having the right speaker (or speakers) to present your theme with a speech that makes most sense to your audience is the key to a successful day. People may complain about the small details such as the room temperature, the snacks, or delays in traffic but if they complain about your choice in speaker, then the day is ruined and, perhaps, your reputation as well. Therefore your choice must be based on clear criteria:

1. Have you seen the speaker in action? If not, has anyone else in your organization?

2. Does the speaker have excellent references?

3. Is s/he an expert and leader in this field? If yes, are they used to speaking to the type of audience you expect? If the speaker is new to your field but considered an expert or outstanding speaker in another field, how could they still be suitable for your needs?

4. Is s/he represented by a speakers' bureau? If yes, you know that they have gone through some sort of screening process ­ speakers' bureaus get a commission on speaking fees (usually 25%) so they can ill afford to work with poor speakers. If no, do they have a sufficient track record to prove they are worth their fee?

Speakers come in various fee ranges.

Level 1 ­ $250 honorarium to $2,500 for a one-day workshop or keynote

This is the most common group of speakers for workshops and conferences. They are often the presenters of concurrent conference sessions. They are experts in their field and may also be excellent speakers. Most professionals who speak as part of their work (e.g., physicians, lawyers, nurses, technical experts and scientists) fit into this category. Their income comes primarily from their work rather than from their speaking so they often speak for an honorarium.

Level 2 ­ between $2,500 and $10,000

These are professional speakers who are also experts in a specific field. Most of their income comes from speaking and teaching rather than from their specific field. In this category would be people who used to work elsewhere and have become self-employed public speakers and content experts. They summarize work done in a specific field to keep their audiences current. You can expect that their presentations are more professional, easy to understand and based on solid adult learning principles. They may also be more informative, entertaining and motivating as speaking to audiences is what they do best.

Note: For people new to presenting in public, you might suggest my books: How to Teach Others and Chapter 4 of Prescription Leadership, available here.

Level 3 ­ between $10,000 and $25,000

This is the group of speakers whose names are easily recognizable by people inside and out of a specific field. They might be entertainers, famous authors, athletes, retired senior executives, and motivational speakers. They likely have books, CDs, and other products to sell at their speeches. They get a lot of publicity and often draw a good crowd to their presentations.

Level 4 ­ over $25,000

This is the elite in the speaking world. In this category would be the likes of retired U.S. Presidents, top earning entertainers, elite athletes, and executives of multinational corporations. They are often written about in books, are on magazine covers and appear on talk shows. For our purposes in this book, we will assume that you want a level 2 speaker who is both a content expert and a professional speaker. This example goes beyond the typical of hiring someone locally who is not an experienced speaker and, therefore, this example will provide opportunities to explain more details of how to organize such an event. You want someone who can help fill a room with their name and reputation and someone who can deliver a keynote or one-day workshop that is energizing, enlightening, motivating and practical. You want your audience leaving the day asking for more. You want someone who has written or has audio/video material that can add value to their content.

Ideally, you will also want an out-of-town speaker who speaks on various topics to spread the cost of their travel and accommodation costs. For example, the speaker may be paid an additional fee to offer a public presentation before or after their one-day workshop. The speaker will likely give you a 'deal' since they are in town already and for a little extra work can earn extra money from a different audience. They may also have various topics quite distinct from their one-day workshop. They could do another workshop or presentation for a completely different audience.

How would multiple presentations help your organization? Imagine a speaker who can speak to a health care audience (professionals, volunteers, students, patients and families) on one day about how to provide more supportive care in the home and in health care facilities. In the evening he or she does a similar presentation for 60-90 minutes for the general public in the same venue. The next day, he does a one-day workshop on leadership development or financial planning or another topic very distinct from the first. This second workshop can also be put on by your organization, or you can link the speaker to another group in your community or region and share the transportation and accommodation costs between you. A sample contract may be helpful for you to modify and get agreement with your speaker on the key points of their presentation for you. In Appendix 6 is the contract I use with my event planners.

Speaker's Code of Conduct with You

Speakers should be aware that you have expectations of them beyond customizing their generic presentation for your specific audience.

Some simple expectations to pass along to them either in the contract or personally:

  1. provide photo and promotional material upon request

  2. provide a sample "introduction" upon request

  3. assist with promoting the event through advance or on site media interviews

  4. they need to be in the town/city the day before the event (to ensure they will be at the venue on time ­ minimizes delays due to transportation problems)

  5. they need to call you when they arrive in town so you don't worry the night before the event

  6. they need to show up to the venue one hour before the event and introduce themselves to you personally (sometimes, speakers might actually be in the venue having a cup of tea without you knowing they have arrived!)

  7. that you do not want them 'selling' they products during the presentation but that someone else (the person introducing or thanking them) will mention any products for sale after the presentation

  8. that they stay after their presentation to answer personal questions from the audience. Some of these requests will not be possible in certain circumstances (e.g., arriving the night before, staying afterwards to answer questions) but you must be clear with the speaker of what is expected of them and repeat these expectations on your last contact with them before the event.

Choosing a Venue

There are many different types of places where you can hold a workshop. What you choose will reflect both your position in the community and your budget. Here are some examples of venues:


Board room, lecture theater or similar room within your own organization

Hotel/motel conference room

Conference center

College, university or high school

Theater (film or stage)

Faith community buildings (e.g., church, synagogue, temple)

Community center


Less typically


Art Gallery

Town/city recreation center

City/municipal hall


Shopping Mall


Business school

High Tech Center

Computer Training Center

Apartment/Condo building recreation room

Music School

Institutional and corporate conference or board rooms (e.g., hospital, long-term care facility, town/city's leading manufacturer)

The earlier you book a place, the better. Many excellent venues are booked well into the next year. We will look at contract considerations shortly. But first, some questions to ask yourself. Remember, we are using the example of a one-day workshop. For conferences and larger events, you will need to be more detailed than the following list.

1. Is the venue available for the time that you want it?

2. Is the venue within your budget? Would moving it to a low season (often July, August and December for meetings) be helpful?

3. Is the venue close to the airport and train station for out-of-town speaker(s) and participants? If not, are there sufficient taxis or buses to get people to their hotel and venue? If not, can you arrange for enough volunteers to help people get to where they need to be?

4. Are both the venue and hotel facilities easily accessible for people with physical disabilities? If not, how can you ensure that participants with disabilities get to and from the venue easily and comfortably? Within the venue are all locations accessible for those with wheelchairs, walkers and mobility limitations ­ that is,

  1. are there alternatives to stairs?

  2. are the hallways wide enough?

  3. are the meeting rooms easy to reach and move around in?

  4. are the washrooms appropriately equipped?

  5. are lunch venues accessible?

5. Is there ample parking at both the venue and hotel? If not, where else can people park? What costs should they expect?

If people are staying in a hotel, find out:

  1. 1. If the check-in process will be expedited for your participants.

  2. 2. If the hotel staff are cordial and helpful.

  3. 3. If people will get help with their luggage, if they need it.

  4. 4. What the typical 'tipping' guidelines are for the hotel.

  5. 5. If the rooms are comfortable, clean and affordable. There should be a corporate discount rate for event participants. Usually a block of rooms is set aside for a period so people can make their own reservations. After that time, participants will have to pay a higher room rate.

  6. 6. What amenities are nearby (e.g., shopping, restaurants, convenience store, all night drug store, theaters, cinemas)?

  7. 7. If the hallways and lobby are clean, spacious, safe and bug free.

  8. 8. If the rooms have smoke detectors and a sprinkler system.

  9. 9. If there is a place to lock away valuables in the hotel.

  10. 10. If there is a room deposit required and by when to confirm registrations.

  11. 11. If the hotel overbooks its rooms (i.e., rents out more than it has because some people cancel at the last minute) and if so, how to ensure rooms for your participants.

  12. 12. Who is responsible for any damage.

  13. 13. If there is a security force in the hotel at all times.

  14. 14. If room rates are guaranteed.

  15. 15. If the hotel will be undergoing any noisy renovations or other construction during the event. If so, is there a discount to participants?

  16. 16. If there are any expected management changes during the time of the event that might impact this contract.

  17. For your speaker, find out:

  18. Does the hotel have room service, an iron and ironing board in the room, free parking, laundry service for longer stays, recreational facilities, and restaurants nearby?

At the venue, find out:

  1. 1. If there is a comfortable area for registration and coat check service or convenient racks.

  2. 2. If you can hang banners in the registration area and inside the event room.

  3. 3. If there are large enough restrooms nearby.

  4. 4. If there are enough elevators and stairways nearby.

  5. 5. If all areas are accessible for people with physical disabilities.

  6. 6. If you can regulate the temperature of the registration and event rooms.

  7. 7. If the spaces are well lit and fresh smelling.

  8. 8. If there is adequate sound proofing from other rooms when the doors are shut.

  9. 9. If there are sufficient breakout rooms, if necessary.

  10. 10. If the rooms can be set up in a suitable style (e.g., theater, classroom, round tables) for the expected number of participants with a clear view of any screens used and a clear view of the speaker. Are there any impediments to a clear view (e.g., pillars, mirrors, and windows)?

  11. 11. If there is a way to block out light that may interfere with people's view of the speaker or screen.

  12. 12. If there are any pillars or similar obstructions that will prevent participants from a clear view of the speaker(s) and any visual aids (e.g., screens, flip charts).

  13. 13. What type of lighting does the room have and how does it work.

  14. 14. Who is the contact person for a/v needs and maintenance during the day.

  15. 15. Where the electrical plugs are and if there are enough.

  16. 16. If signs, flip charts and banners can be taped or pinned to the walls and doors.

  17. 17. How early can you set up before the event.

  18. 18. How quickly must you leave the venue in case another event is happening after yours.

  19. 19. If the venue provides any 'free' items such as pens, notepads and drinking water.

  20. 20. If there is a sound system in the room and who will operate it.

  21. 21. If there is a deposit required and by when.

  22. 22. Who is responsible for any damage.

  23. 23. If there is a security force in the hotel at all times.

  24. 24. If you have to pay for any insurance premiums.

  25. 25. What is the cancellation policy.

  26. 26. If menu prices are guaranteed.

  27. 27. If the venue will be undergoing any noisy renovations or other construction during the event. If so, is there a discount to participants.

  28. 28. If there are any expected management changes during the time of the event that might impact this contract.

  29. 29. View all of the above from the point of view of a participant with limited mobility. Is this person able to be a real part of the whole day?


1. Negotiate a reduced fee for a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town participants.

  1. 2.Negotiate a detailed contract (no hidden costs) for:

  2. Room set-up and clean-up

  3. A podium or small stage

  4. Audio-visual equipment rentals (if any costs)

  5. Water jugs and glasses

  6. Snack and drinks for break time

  7. Cost per participant for lunch (if part of the workshop) or provide participants with alternative restaurants nearby

  8. Cost of any taxes and gratuities

3. You may negotiate a free room(s) for event planners to stay the night before in order to ensure that everything is set early the next morning. This also gives you time to introduce yourself to out-of-town speaker(s) and participants.

Venue Setup

Your speaker(s) may have a preferred layout style for the venue room. As a general rule, a room that can seat 100 people theater style can normally hold: ·

75 people in round tables or top table layout

50 people in classroom layout

25 people in a boardroom or U-shape

50 people in theater style with lunch

Choosing the Audio Visual Equipment

There are many audio-visual tools that may help with your event. Some venues provide this equipment for free while others have a fee for each. It is important that you know exactly what your speaker(s) want in advance so that you have enough time to reserve the equipment. Let your speaker(s) know you that you cannot make last minute changes to the equipment list.

The following are some of the typical audio-visual equipment needs:


1. Lapel microphones (I prefer these for maximum flexibility in moving around the room)

2. Lectern microphones

3. Musical instrument microphones (e.g., if you are playing guitar and singing)

4. Audience microphones or table microphones for panel discussions

Flip Charts

1. Sufficient stands/easels and pads of paper

2. Masking tape or pins to attach any to walls if necessary (and allowable at that venue) Overhead Projector ­ although 'old fashioned' these projectors rarely break down, don't involve much technology that can fail and permit the room lights to be turned up normally so that participants aren't spending the day in a dimly lit room.

1. Projector

2. Extension cords

3. Spare bulbs

4. Stand with room for overheads Slides/Films/computer shows (e.g., PowerPoint Presentations)

1. Appropriate projector (e.g., LCD for computer projection)

2. Extension cords

3. Spare bulbs

4. (Most often, speakers bring their own laptop computers but some may request to use a laptop at the venue)


1. Player (either portable or in larger venues they have built in systems)

2. Extension cords


1. Player (either portable or in larger venues they have built in systems)]

2. TV monitor or large screen

3. Extension cords

4. Spare bulbs

Other Items

1. A laser pointer for the speaker to point out something on the screen.

2. It is helpful to have extra-wide masking tape or duct tape to cover extension cords so people do not slip.

3. Extra markers, overhead projector pens, pads of paper, etc. to accompany any of the audio-visual machinery.

4. Signs for directions to event registration and room(s) including easels

It is unlikely for a one-day workshop that you will need the more expensive items such as:

1. Large screens (like at rock concerts or political rallies) so large audiences can see the person speaking better

2. Recording devices like audio or video cameras to record the one-day event.

3. Strobe or spot lights

4. Special stage designs or platforms

  1. 5.Dry ice machines for mist/smoke

NOTE 1: You need to decide whether to record the event and if so, what kind of recording, i.e., video, audio, still photographs or transcription. You may need to rent this equipment as part of your a/v package.

NOTE 2: You will need to decide how to adapt and enhance you're a/v needs to meet the needs of any audience members with special requirements. For example, will your audience need:

  1. simultaneous translation

  2. sign interpretation

  3. special seating for those with visual or hearing impairments

  4. the speaker talking somewhat slower to be better heard and understood

  5. extra seating for any attendant support they have with them

  6. access to an electrical plug for those recording the event and/or using a computer?

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Event Planning Guide

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Copyright © 2006 Harry van Bommel

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