If your event occurs monthly, seasonally, or even annually, the records of past events will be an invaluable resource as you begin the planning process. A basic file will record attendance figures, agendas, and schedules; a good file will recap both positive and negative aspects of past events.

But even if your event is new, or you don’t have records to consult, you can assemble much of the necessary information. Here are some aspects you should consider before meeting with your event planner:

Attendance or Audience Size

The number of people who attend your event is a critical piece of information. Often, you’ll have to begin work based on an estimate, because firm attendance figures won’t be available until just before the event occurs.

Audience size determines which venues will work for your event, and how much time you should allow between sessions. Small groups can move quickly; larger groups require more time to check in, to return from breaks, even to file into a room and be seated.


The venue is another starting-place for planners. You should choose a comfortable size for your expected attendance. While you don’t want an over-crowded event, it’s also uncomfortable when a small group meets in a large venue. The empty space is disheartening, and can even create a false impression of poor attendance.

Atmosphere can be important, too. Some venues are visually neutral, while others make a strong visual impression. The Charles E. Young Grand Salon in Kerckhoff Hall, for instance, offers a wealth of architectural details such as wood panelling and stained glass windows — wonderful for chamber music, but less appropriate for a luau or square dance. Outdoor patios can be particularly flexible. Lights, banners, canopies and potted plants can create a colorful fiesta or a dignified award presentation.

Venues also offer the possibility of varying the presentation format. For instance, conference rooms with air walls allow you to have a large general session and then divide (literally) into smaller spaces.

Click here to view photos of the different venues.

Services & Equipment

When you’ve developed your agenda or event schedule, consider what services and equipment are implied. Will you need a check-in area, for badges or materials? Will tickets or admissions be sold at the door? Is there a need for a podium, or a slide projector, or an internet connection? Sometimes a hospitality area, with coffee and pastries, can be a lifesaver for early arrivals or volunteers.


It’s easy to forget details when you’re planning a large event. Checklists are one of several methods you can use to make sure your event stays on track. One way of organizing checklists is by due date: what must be done four weeks in advance? One week in advance? Three days in advance? The day of the event? Checklists can also be divided up according to responsibilities of an individual or committe: promoting the event, arranging for snacks or meals, providing information packets, etc.