Alison Quinn Virtual Assistant Checklist and Top Tips Event Planning With Key Speakers

10 Steps To Event Planning With Key Speakers

Guest blogger, Sophie Castle, has put together 10 Steps to Event Planning with Key Speakers. This advice comes from her long career working in Public Libraries. Running an exciting, engaging and successful event is no mean feat, but with the key principles outlined below, you will be well on your way to creating something truly memorable! If you need an extra pair of hands to help you with your event contact me to book a discovery call.

Having worked in Public Libraries for over 14 years, mainly as a Children’s Librarian, I have extensive experience in running author events for people of all ages. Here, I will share with you 10 steps to organising events with key speakers.

1. Initial Planning

Take time to consider the logistics! The more detailed you can be in the early stages, the more likely your event will run smoothly!

Plans are nothing, planning is everything.

Albert Einstein

Who will this event be for? How many people do you want in the audience? What venue will you use? Are there any health and safety limitations?

Tools such as Airtable and Trello can really help with the planning process, especially where you have a team involved.

2. Audience

What age will the event be aimed at? If the event is for children, will they need to accompanied by an adult? Will chairs be provided or will people/children sit on the floor (schoolchildren can be seated as they would for an assembly)?  

3. Costs

Now the basics have been thought about, a budget needs to be considered. Different authors/illustrators/speakers have different rates, some charge per hour, and some charge per half-day/full-day. There are also travel expenses to consider and possibly overnight accommodation – especially if they are travelling a long way. Will you charge for tickets for the event? Will you charge for refreshments? Will you need to pay for the venue? 

4. Booking Your Speaker

Authors Aloud can recommend authors, illustrators and poets for all age ranges and for all budgets. If you approach publishers directly with your budget, audience age and location they can recommend someone for your event. Book the author as far in advance as possible, as some authors are booked up to a year ahead. Platforms such as the London Speaker Bureau can help if you are looking for a speaker in a particular field.

5. Advertising and Promotion

There are lots of ways to advertise – both physical and virtual. Posters are very good for promoting events, but there is an additional cost implication with the creation and printing of materials. Events can be promoted via social media/websites and/or emails to clients or customers. Platforms such as eventbrite are useful for keeping an eye of the numbers, collecting funds and having a record of expected attendees. You can use the services of a Virtual Assistant to help create branded promotional materials.

6. Support Materials

Publishers can provide posters, bookmarks, stickers for events, and also books that can be on a sale or return basis. Local bookshops may be able to provide books at the event and a member of staff to do the book sales.  

7. Equipment Needed

Make sure you know in advance what technology will be needed at the event. Will the author be bringing their own laptop or do you need to supply one? Will a flipchart be needed? Do you need any resources for the audience (slideshow printouts, paper and pencil, etc)?  

8. The Actual Event

Prepare a risk assessment! Is the event well signposted so the audience members know where to go? Are refreshments/ food available for the author and/or audience? Is the venue heated/cooled to a comfortable temperature? Is all the equipment available? Is there someone to tick off audience members as they arrive? Is there wheelchair/pushchair access to the venue if needed? Do you need a microphone or hearing loop available? How will you introduce the author? What is the structure of the session (is it a panel/Question and Answer session)? How long will the event last for?  

9. Feedback and Evaluation

This can be collected via questionnaire at the end of the event or via an electronic survey using Survey Monkey and MailChimp. It’s important to find out what the audience thought of the event, this will help with future planning. What could be done differently next time? 

10. Establishing Contacts

Contacts are key for any future events! Have a list of contacts, whether they are from within publishing houses, individual authors/illustrators/speakers and this will make running future events much easier.  Popular CRM tools such as Hubspot can ensure this information is easily accessible.

I hope you find these 10 Steps to Event Planning with Key Speakers helpful! Let me know if you have anything you would add, in the comments section below.

Further Resources

The Ultimate Event Checklist to Foolproof Your Planning

London Speaker Bureau

HSE Guidance on Running Events Safely

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