Last month, Switch collaborated with Arts & Education Council to host an Art Makers learning session – a free event catered toward not-for-profit movers and shakers. Because the content of the forum is applicable to events beyond the nonprofit realm, we wanted to extend the event planning tips and best practices to our blog.


Budgets and granular KPIs vary depending on the client and type of event, but the inherent purpose of a live meeting is to create a meaningful experience for each person in the audience. But before digging into creative direction, such as speaker content, themed décor and special entertainment, there are preliminary parameters to establish that assist in adherence to budget and to accomplish your goals.

Considerations when choosing a venue:

1. Try to not recreate infrastructure. This is a pretty straightforward best practice for keeping costs reasonable. Choose an event space that can accommodate your needs. As cool as an empty warehouse might look, it’s probably not the best choice for a fancy gala or charity dinner. Prevent the extreme costs involved in transforming a space by going with a more appropriate ballroom or convention hall.

2. Negotiate for adequate set-up time. Setting up the day before is usually best for both production vendor and client. Not only do you not have a lot of union overtime, you can also ensure ample time for the client to view content or run through rehearsals. Depending on when the event is, most venues will be ok with setting up the day before – but make sure to communicate your expectations to avoid any major setbacks. Most hotels, for example, probably won’t give you the day before a Saturday/Sunday event, as they would prefer to book that space for a separate function.

3. Question the venue about added fees. Most venues add a bunch of fees on top of the room rental – including power. Some places will charge just for electrical drops and the electrician to come out and give you power. Other venues charge for everything, including use of a normal outlet just for plugging in your phone or laptop. Some venues also pay a staff member to monitor load in/out – and that cost may be added to your bill unless you can work out an agreement. It’s ok to ask for the venue to line item these costs on your contract before you sign.

Once the first major step is complete and you have your venue, you can concentrate on content. As you begin to build an agenda, keep your audience in mind to ensure the event caters to their interests and needs.

1. Know your audience. If attendees are an older crowd, a rule of thumb is to wrap early – by 8 or 9. Younger crowds won’t be in such a hurry to leave, depending how the event is going. Just make sure to avoid an energy crash; keep it going fast and strong with video motion graphics, music and lights, and you can guarantee a good time.

2. Watch out for “speechifying.” If a speaker’s speech runs a bit long, the audience will tune out the presentation and turn to their phones. The best way to avoid this is to have a third party read and edit the script beforehand. There might be items that seem necessary to the writer but mean nothing to fresh eyes reading it (and ultimately the audience). If the event includes award winner speeches, try to get ahold of them before the event in order to edit them down.

3. Less is frequently more. A good event doesn’t always hinge on presenters. Short speeches, engaging videos and great entertainment are the building blocks to a successful event. Oh, and don’t forget the menu; when attendees pay for their seat at the table and the show, a nice dining experience goes a long way.

From technical support to content creation, the intertwined components of event production can become overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. A trusted, experienced partner can work with your team in beginning stages to establish goals and KPIs – and provide the right tools for measurement as your ideas are brought to life.