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General Event Planning Tips

Planning an event

1. Start small.

Rather than trying to do a large event the first year, begin with something small. For example, for the first year, plan a Lunch and Learn seminar for your office. Plan a larger seminar the next year that is open to the whole organization. If that's successful, you may want to open it to the community the third year. Network each year, and gather lessons learned to gradually expand your event.

2. Plan early.

The earlier you start, the more likely you'll get the speakers you want, the resources you need, and the time to plan an event that runs smoothly. Getting clearances, legal requirements, insurance, speakers, resources, and adequate locations often takes longer than expected.

3. Form a planning committee.

You may want to do this a year in advance for larger events and four to six months in advance for smaller ones. Determine responsibilities and timelines as soon as possible, and put them in writing.

4. Find a location that is convenient and comfortable for participants.

Consider parking, accessibility, indoor and outdoor temperatures, seating, and proximity to food and restrooms.

5. Talk with others to find good speakers.

You will be amazed at how many people have heard or know dynamic, knowledgeable speakers. Network with friends, colleagues, and outside organizations.

6. Give people an opportunity to network.

You can accomplish this in many ways, including having question-and-answer sessions, planning roundtable discussions, providing interactive activities, displaying exhibits, having a luncheon, or providing refreshment breaks. You may want to have nametags available and/or provide a participant list for people to take with them if appropriate.

7. Distribute materials.

Consider having presentation outlines, print materials, websites, and other resources on a table for people to learn more about the issues discussed. Be sure to get written permission from speakers before distributing their materials.

8. Include activities to reinforce information.

Consider including a walk, cooking demonstration, healthy snacks, workshop, or other activity. A co-sponsor might be able to help with this.

9. Ensure information is up-to-date and accurate.

Resources are available on the CDC website, including products and publications to distribute at your event. Supplies are limited and subject to change and availability.

10. Evaluate your event.

Develop a short evaluation form, make plenty of copies, and encourage participants to complete and turn it in after the event. Lessons learned are an invaluable resource when planning your next event.

This tip sheet is provided as a service only. Some details may vary, depending on your organization's resources and needs.

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