Hand of acesI’m intrigued by the interesting people and conversions you can have on a flight. It seems like most people believe that they will never see this stranger again and so why not divulge some of our greatest secrets.

After working on a real estate marketing program with some Dallas ad agencies I flew to Tampa to present a healthcare marketing plan to a client. Next to me was a man who showed me no matter how many times I shuffled the cards, he could deal any hand he wanted to and look legit. But, the most valuable lesson he taught me is something I use today when planning events or instore programs.

Here are some practical examples of event planning checklists to keep you organized.

Detailed Event Planning Checklist
Generic Event Planning Checklist


If you’re looking for a quick traditional list, look above for the typical event planning checklist that will keep you on track. My list may not include some of the traditional checklist items (permits, fundraising, etc.) that you would expect from an event planner. A traditional event planning checklist is important and some of those items are included. However, your list should include ways to make an event memorable, worth sharing with others. 

1. Appeal to the Senses: Water, Fresh Cookies, and Hasselhoff

My gambling friend told me that water is the key to keeping people at a casino longer. Waterfalls provide tranquility. Maybe if patrons hear the sound of a waterfall they won’t be so troubled by the money they are losing. Water can be used just about anywhere when planning an indoor or outdoor venue. Venue is key; set up is even more important.

A friend of mine who used to manage a rock station in Dallas told me he once used a life size cutout of David Hasselhoff to attract grocery store customers to the back of the store. Just like putting milk in the back corner, store marketers know the more time you spend in the store, the more money you will spend. It is not that much different for an event or fundraiser; the longer they are there and more enjoyable the experience, the more effective your event should be.

Try bringing in fresh baked cookies. The smell and taste will help lock in the effects of a positive event and make an average one a little more pleasing. While these ideas may seem a little deceiving or slight-of-hand, my hope is that you will use these ideas to help create something memorable, not manipulated.

2. Questions to Ask Before Setting a Budget

  • How important is the event? Seems obvious, but does this event have the potential to bring in new customers or donors or serve people in a way that can generate over $100,000 or $1,000,000. Or, is this just a quarterly off-site event that is not a revenue generator?
  • Does the event need to be advertised and how? Printing expenses?
  • Can securing a more expensive guest bring in more money?
  • Marriott has a few useful planning checklists.

3. Securing the Best Speakers

  • Maybe a better heading is ‘Securing the Most Appropriate Speakers’ – (Does the speaker fit the venue?). Ask the speaker about some of their recent events.
  • Finding an effective speaker is easy, there are many touring. However, if you choose a speaker who is currently promoting a book, it might be easier to leverage the publicity you can provide with an opportunity for them to plug their new book without detracting from the event.
  • If you are organizing a charity event or are willing to tie a charity into the event, chances are there is an effective speaker or celebrity who is vested in your success or the success of their charity. Don’t expect FREE, but communicate with their publicity manager on making it a win-win for the event and the speaker.
  • Leverage the speakers’ online platforms. Do they have a following of 10K plus on Twitter? Are they willing to promote the event on their platforms?

4. Leverage Social Media

Use all the tools available to pre-sell, save-the-date, and cross promote with all partners involved. Sometimes even bringing in little known partners who have loyal online fans can help spur their advocates to adopt your cause.

The primary focus should be on creating an event that is worth speaking about. No matter how much promoting or advertising is thrown at an event, people will choose to talk about it or not. See ‘Word of Mouse’.


The key to becoming an event planning expert is learning from other events, proper planning and rehearsal, surrounding yourself with experts, and a little common sense. For outdoor events, look at the typical weather for that time of the year. Is the location and time convenient for your target market?

And ask ‘is this an event that is worth sharing with others’? Working in radio for over 20 years, events were almost a weekly occurrence. If you need advice of how to create a compeling radio remote, I’d be happy to help. I’ve had my share of flops. At the least, I can help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

What is one thing you’ve learned from events you’ve attended in the past?


Inbound Marketing Checklist