Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Focus on - Preparing for an Event

Checkpoints for planning the venue.


  • Is it accessible to everyone?
  • Is it in the same building or off site?
  • Will you have to pay a hire cost?
  • Is it easily accessible for bringing in any equipment?
  • If off site, how far away from the entrance is the car park?
  • Can you offload before parking up?
  • Will there be lots of steps into the building?
  • Once in the building will there be stairs to negotiate or will there be a lift?
  • Will there be someone to help you?Is a trolley available or do you need your own?
  • Is the room suitable for the number of people to be present? (Sometimes also called delegates.)
  • Can you arrange the tables as you want to?
  • Are there tables and chairs as standard?
  • If not who will organise them?


  • Where are the power points or plug sockets?
  • Will you need an extension lead?
  • Will this be provided? (The toolkit of a speaker can be extensive.)
  • If you are using PowerPoint, is there  a screen? Video projector? Is there a remote control? Do you have a remote mouse for your computer?

Recording attendees.

You will need some kind of registration of participants on arrival. This could simply be an A4 sheet with room for name, company/department, and contact details. This should conform to health and safety in the case of a fire or any issues arising afterwards. It also gives you record of attendance.


Will you have a badge for each delegate to wear?
If it is a round-the table-meeting will you have a tent card on which each of the delegates can write their name? These will face outwards and are so useful. The back (the side facing the delegate) of course will have your company logo, name and contact details printed on it. A small but effective marketing tool, especially as people often like to take things away with them.

Promoting the Event.

If this is an inter-departmental or class event, you will probably only need to advertise internally among your colleagues. A simple outline will suffice; something to ensure that the ones you expect to attend, actually do attend.
It may be that you are holding a talk/presentation of an open kind within your organisation. You will need to plan and produce some posters and/or flyers to post around the building. Keep these simple and to the point. You could include a photo of yourself and another relevant image. (If you are undertaking a course of study, this may count towards some aspect of it e.g. communication evidence as long as it is relevant and fit for purpose.)
For something more formal or wide reaching, you may even be putting up posters around your village or town wherever you think is suitable. e.g., Community Centre, Library, Student Common Room.
Who will pay for this? Do you have the facilities and/or expertise? Do you have to find someone to help you?


  • Will drinking water be available? Is it needed? Sometimes there is a water fountain. You the speaker will need to have at least a bottle of water and a glass handy in case you get dry. Taking a sip of water can also serve to buy you some time in order to gather your thoughts, calm your nerves, especially if you have been asked an awkward question.
  • Will coffee be available?
  • Is it needed? If people have travelled, it is quite usual to provide this.
  • Who will pay for it? Even in colleges, the catering department will make a charge.
  • Who will deliver it to the room?
  • If you are hiring a venue, is the cost of coffee included in the room hire?
  • Will you just have coffee on arrival? Alternatively, will you just have a break halfway through the session?
Other things to take into consideration emerge when planning larger, formal events. As this book is mainly to concentrate on preparing for a talk/presentation in both formal and informal settings and ‘getting the message across’ we will not stray too far from the main topic.


You will need to be aware of the fire exits, first aid facilities/first aid kit. The contact number of first aider. If the event is off site, you will need to find out the risk assessment and health& safety policy procedures; are they applicable?
Last but not least, make sure that you send out joining instructions including a map showing the exact location of the venue and entrance / parking etc.

Before the event but not on the day.

In my own experience in running workshops and speaking at events, I always find a checklist essential to ensure that I don’t forget anything. In my later career in writing, I have maintained and adapted this for book events and speaking engagements.
I am happy to share it. You will most likely want to adapt it to suit yourself. I am happy for you to do so.

It looks something like this:

Prep for < here insert the name of event and date>.
  • Banner (s). (To promote who I am, what I write.)
  • Large sheet of cloth material. (I find that the books and marketing material look better when displayed on a black cloth as opposed to a bare table. A single sized bed sheet could suffice.)
  • A5 flyers. (To hand out if applicable.)
  • Your business cards and promotional material such as bookmarks/postcards/ flyers.
  • A3 posters. (They look better on the wall than smaller A4 size.)
  • Books — all titles - or product for demonstration etc.
  • Contact form for e-mail updates to delegates.
  • Sticky tape.
  • Blue Tac. (Handy for putting up posters or other visual aids.)
  • Pens.
  • Float. (A small amount of money for change when I sell a book.) If applicable.
  • Award certificate in holder. If applicable
  • Brochure holders
  • A5 display holders.
  • Book for reading (a passage to the audience). If a book event.
  • Reading/speaking notes.
  • Camera. (I put photos on my website. You might need evidence for your CPD Portfolio.)
  • Net book and lead. Mouse or remote mouse.
  • USB Memory Stick. (With a copy of your presentation loaded.)
  • Extension lead.
  • Overhead projector. (If applicable)
  • Mobile phone.
  • That is quite a lot to think about isn’t it?
  • ‘But I am only giving an informal talk,’ I can hear you saying to yourself.

Well, you don’t know what you don’t know until someone tells you and it is better to be informed upfront rather than after the event.
Even a short, informal talk needs to be well prepared and delivered in a professional way. You never know who is present and thinking ahead to where you might go in the organisation or what you could be trained up for. You do want to give a good impression don’t you?
Therefore, good communication skills are needed.
(This is an excerpt from Talking the Talk: Getting the Message Across. Follow the links - live in eBooks - at the end for more information. )