What maps are to travellers, event planning checklists are to a corporate event planner. Checklists point event planners and their teams in the right direction and help them know what to plan for, and by when they need to have planned it, so that everyone involved can reach their journey’s end feeling proud at having pulled off another top notch event.

If your event planning checklist is regularly updated, it should already contain a wealth of wisdom and practical experience that you have garnered over the years. That being said, the following are some considerations that may be new to you, so do listen up:

Are you ensuring that your event’s are green enough?

‘Greening’ your event is now quite a thing – did you know? ‘Going green’ refers to intentionally reducing the size of your event’s waste and carbon footprint. This can be done by selecting vendors and venues that are concerned with environmental sustainability. Choosing caterers who use organic or Fairtrade produce, for example, can help green your event. Digitising processes is another way to go green, as this reduces the amount of paper and resources wasted by using conventional processes. For more statistics on why there is such a push for greener events these days, have a look at this infographic by the Event Manager Blog.

Do your events have a clear and strategic purpose?

Do you know the end game? You need to add a few key questions to your event planning checklist to help you define your event’s purpose. We found these handy prompts on how to review a conference’s purpose in a Velvet Chainsaw Consulting blog. They suggest that you ask:

  •  What strategic business objectives does your event support?
  • Are you running the event to make a profit, rally investors or increase brand awareness and acceptance?
  • How much networking and engagement does your event need to facilitate?

Are you in touch with what your data is actually telling you?

According to another Velvet Chainsaw blog, you don’t just want to hone in on event data that makes you feel good. Instead of focusing on how many people attended your last corporate event, for example, look at who attended and to what extent participants have actually engaged with your brand after your event. This is the kind of data that will help you tailor-make your next event to achieve your business’ strategic objectives.

Have you paid attention to all the types of experiences that your event might offer your guests?

You need to give consideration to how guests will experience your event and brand from the moment they receive their Save The Dates and invitations, right through to their experience of your event’s registration and follow up processes.

Email invitation software is a great solution for automating and professionalising your event’s invitation and RSVP process to ensure a positive experience overall for your guests.

Because security and safety are another key factor to be included on your event planning checklist, we have developed a checklist to help you remember the steps needed for ensuring a risk-free environment for your event. Download our Event Compliance Checklist for more information.

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event checklist


When it comes to your event planning checklist, dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s involves far more than making sure you event is well attended, or that your key note speaker is booked well in advance. The legal aspects of event planning are vast, and if ignored, can have serious consequences for all involved. By including these in your event planning checklist, you’re safeguarding yourself, your guests and any vendors from potential danger – whether physical or reputational in nature.

Your event planning checklist serves as a map, directing you and your staff towards a successful – and compliant – event

First things first; prepare and school yourself on all elements that require some form of compliance. (Reading this blog is an excellent start.) Finding out at the last minute that your event doesn’t have sufficient health and safety plans in place is less than ideal, so avoid any unpleasant surprises by evaluating your event from beginning to end. Every event will have different requirements as far as compliance is concerned. If just one of these is overlooked (by accident or on purpose), the ramifications can be dire.

Your event planning checklist needs to cover the following eight aspects of event compliance:

  • General Safety and Fire Prevention
  • Liability and Insurance
  • Electrical Procedures and Requirements
  • National Building Regulations for Temporary Structures
  • Safe Working Practices; Gas/and or Naked Flame Application and Usage
  • Rigging Guidelines; Ladders and Scaffolding

Conducting a safety assessment of your venue needs to be at the top of your event planning checklist

In order to identify any possible safety hazards, both the organiser (that’s you) and the contractor (if you’re building a temporary structure like a free-standing bar, stage or Bedouin tent) need to inspect the entire venue. Once you’ve thoroughly evaluated and pin pointed any potential red-flags, you’ll be able to draw up a Disaster Management Plan. As well as equipping yourself with a plan should an incident occur, this will act as an important safeguard against any legal action that may result should an incident occur.

A Disaster Management Plan is only compliant once it’s been approved by the local Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and the local Fire Safety Officer

Your event planning checklist must prioritise the compilation of your Disaster Management Plan, as well as contacting and obtaining approval from the relevant parties. Make sure you’ve set adequate time aside to compile an exhaustive and detailed plan – as stipulated in the South African National Standards (SANS) 10366: Standard for Live Events.

Importantly, your event planning checklist must include steps to document all of your event compliance procedures

Going to all the trouble of ensuring all aspects of your event are compliant is moot if you don’t have the documentation in place to prove it. In addition, without written proof that all parties involved in your event (your suppliers, vendors and contractors) are competent and dedicated to following best practice when it comes to health and safety (including theirs) – you can be held liable should any incident occur. In addition, make sure your event planning checklist includes a full brief of all role-players before the event – this will ensure that everyone is informed of their responsibilities, as well as aware of the procedures to follow in case of an accident or emergency.

Last but not least, make sure that you’ve included steps to ensure that the handling and storage of all guest information is POPI-compliant

This oft-neglected task is a pivotal part of event compliance. You need to make sure that the information your privy to (for example, names, occupations, demographics, etc.) is safely stored and managed in a way that’s in line with the stipulations as set out by the Protecting of Personal Information Act. This includes ensuring that all content management systems (yes, even your smartphone) are password protected, and that you notify the guest in questions as to your intentions for processing their data. (Read the full run down of your responsibilities as set out by the Act in our blog here.)

Our event registration software is fully POPI compliant. Find out more, here. We’ll help you to ensure that your events are compliant. Get started by downloading our free Event Compliance Checklist.

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Before any event can come to fruition, you need to be able to present yourself and your company to clients in a persuasive, professional manner. This is easier said than done.

Pitching to a client is nerve wracking – regardless of your event planning experience. After all, the stakes are high when it comes to corporate events and it’s up to you to make sure that these are in your favour. It’s no secret that, to make it as a successful event planner, you need to be confident in your abilities and have the confidence to demonstrate this to potential clients. Before you break out the Rescue Remedy, read through our top seven tips for pitching to a client, without the nerves.

Do your homework

If you’re not familiar with your client then there’s little chance that you’ll be able to convince them of your expertise. Just as you would prepare for a job interview, do your research. Familiarise yourself with the client in question, and equip yourself with the necessary information. Not only does this make it that much easier to plan a presentation that’s in line with their company ethos and identity but being aware of what to expect goes a long way in instilling confidence in your own abilities.

First impressions last

Before you’ve even opened your mouth, you’re making an impression. Make sure it’s a professional one. No matter how talented or experienced you are, the way you present yourself plays a huge part in the client’s decision to hire you. An event planner who’s meticulously groomed and well-dressed is far more likely to get the job than one who’s sloppily put together.

Always stick to the brief

Clients compile a brief for a reason. No matter how creative or exciting your diversion from a brief may be, your client wants to know two things: if you’re able to do what’s required, and your plan for going about the task.

While thinking laterally is a must as an event planner, when presenting to clients make sure that your presentation is matched to the brief. As excited as you may be by a sudden brainwave you have while presenting, resist the temptation to veer off track, keeping your pitch short, sharp and to the point.

Use a ‘pyramid’ shaped pitch

The best pitches are composed of layers – a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each stage is just as important as the next, and when seamlessly weaved together they form a convincing case.

Think of the start of your pitch as laying the foundation of what’s to come – this is where you can talk about your credentials and experience in the industry. The middle part of the presentation forms the ‘meat and potatoes’ of a pitch. This is where you talk about the actual brief, and the ways in which you’d go about planning and managing the event in question.

Once you’ve demonstrated your proposed plans, it’s vital that you end off with a (brief) recap of your presentation. This plays the important role of reinforcing what you’ve just said, and helps the client to fully grasp your presentation.

Just as crucial to the layout of your pitch, is the language you use. By talking in terms of ‘we’, instead of ‘you’ and ‘I’, you’re placing your client as part of your team. Speaking as a cooperative goes a long way in solidifying your position as an event planner who views teamwork as a crucial part of the event process.

Cover your bases

Always arrive early – it’s far better to have to wait for the client than have them wait for you. This will ensure that you have adequate time to set up your presentation, familiarise yourself with the equipment and make sure that your projector or laptop is working. In addition, always have your presentation on a memory stick as a back-up. As prepared as you may be, technical glitches can and will happen.

Practice makes perfect

As we emphasised earlier, being prepared can make or break the pitch. Rehearse your presentation before hand – practice the pronunciation of your client’s name and prepare answers to any questions they might have to avoid being put on the spot. Clients can easily pick up on someone who’s trying to ‘wing it’ – the aim is to get to the point where you don’t even have to look at the screen. This also allows you to make eye contact with your clients, turning your presentation into an interactive, personal pitch instead of a stilted lecture.

Don’t hog the limelight

As in life, an event planner can’t be all things to all people. Instead, position yourself within a team of capable people. Not only does this make you look more credible to the client, it also enforces your ability to deliver. Your team may consist of a creative director, a technical expert, a health and safety officer, etc – depending on the event in question.

If you’d like to ensure that you’re able to offer clients the most professional service, find out about our RSVP and event planning software here.

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Event planning is hard work. The many intricate tasks that need to be organised often outweigh the amount of time you have to do them. If you want to retain your sanity while planning an event, most people use an event planning checklist. Making use of a task list is an easy way of breaking what often feels like an insurmountable task into smaller, achievable steps. You’ll be able to assign different people to various tasks – right from the planning stages though to the post-event evaluation.

We’ve compiled a list of ideas you can use to create an event planning checklist. These are merely suggestions, as your requirements will change depending on the event in question, so use these as a guideline to formulate your own list that’s pertinent to the event at hand.


Here are our six suggested categories for your event planning checklist:

1. Venue – Is your venue of choice indoors or outdoors?If your event is taking place outside, you’ll need to make provision for inclement weather. If you’re planning a wedding for example, have an alternative plan in place so that if there’s a sudden downpour, you’ll be able to quickly escort guests inside and provide them with fresh towels. Is there adequate parking available? What about restrooms? Are there wheel chair-friendly entrances and exits? It’s useful to familiarise yourself with the layout of the venue beforehand in order to locate things like the service entrance, power mains, and emergency exits.

2. Catering Plan – Will you be catering on-site or are your meals going to be delivered ready-made? If you’re planning on hiring chefs to cook for you on the day, is there a kitchen, and is it equipped with everything they’ll need? Regardless of the food is made on or off site, you are going to need a place to store, plate or finish food. Will you need to hire crockery and cutlery? Who will serve the meals, and what time frame do they need to be served in?

3. Financial Plan – For obvious reasons, your budget is one of your most important considerations. Price changes and the breakage of equipment are some of the things you’ll have to budget for. The last thing an event planner needs is having to rely on faulty equipment on the day, or having to cope with a shortage of staff due to budget constraints. (Don’t forget that the annual increase in “sin tax”, which happens in April, will adversely affect the prices of alcohol.)

4. Guest Planning – Have you identified who your VIPs are? Have you compiled a “B” List? Do you have all of the correct contact details? Who will be tasked with sending out the invites? If you’re short for time, you’ll want to outsource this process to a specialist in guest list management, who’ll be able to streamline the process, as well as ensure you get the highest number of RSVPs.

5. Safety and Security – Begin by identifying all possible emergency scenarios, with plans in place for each. Will you need to hire your own security, or does your venue provide this? Have you taken out the relevant insurance? Make sure you have security onsite, make sure you have event insurance. Are your staff trained in first-aid? Do you have the number of emergency services on hand? The safety of your guests is in your hands – which means you need to prioritise this responsibility.

6. Post-Event Plan – After the event, make sure you have a plan in place that will enable you to thank guests timeously. It’s absolutely crucial to gather and evaluate their feedback too. This will provide you with useful information that’ll allow you to improve future events. Don’t forget to plan the breakdown and clean up too.

Our suggested categories are a great starting point from which to tailor your own event planning checklist. Having a clearly defined plan of action not only ensures that everyone involved is on the same page, it also allows you to keep tabs on your progress and be alerted to any hiccups as and when they arise.

 Image Credit: Starlight Inspirations