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Zest For Success: Inspection of Venues Before Start of Event

So, occasionally, I get to write articles for secretarial publications … here’s one I did at the end of 2011 … [Michelle]


Co-ordinating a function can conjure up all sorts of visions – many of them fearful, overwhelming, maybe downright mind-blowing.  However, event co-ordination need not be unpleasant, in fact – with the right amount of planning – it can be a huge amount of fun and a successful feather in your cap.

The key to a successful function is ensuring that everything is in place, priorto the start of the function.  This will ensure that there are no surprises during the function and that the event runs as smoothly as it possibly can.

As with almost anything in life, a good list is essential to ensure great success.  Your Before-Function-Checklist should cover some or all of the following points:

People:  Introduce yourself to the banqueting staff and establish who the Banqueting Co-ordinator is as well as key waitrons that you might need to call upon during the day.


  • If it is the intention to brand the function venue with the company’s marketing materials, ensure that sufficient time is allowed for this exercise.  It might be an idea to prepare this the night before as installing roll-up banners or hanging promotional posters can be quite time-consuming.
  • Are Goody Bags being given to delegates?  If so, insist that sponsors deliver their contributions to your offices prior to the event so that the bags can be prepared beforehand.  All that then needs to be done on the day of the event is to put out the bags attractively on tables.
  • If delegate nametags are to be used, lay these out appropriately at the entrance to the conference room.  Ensure that your speakers and key function participants have their nametags at the outset [including yourself].

Facilities:  Be sure to do a test-run of all the equipment to be used during the function:

  • Projector – ensure all necessary cables and adaptors are supplied and check that the resolution setting is the right one for the Laptop or Apple Mac that is to be used for the presentation;
  • Screen – ensure that it is hanging straight; that it is clean and that there is no item obstructing delegates’ view;
  • White board [including pens] or flipchart [including paper] – make sure all the pens are working and that a whiteboard eraser has been supplied and/or that there is sufficient paper for the flipchart.  Will you need to stick up pages from the flipchart somewhere in the room?  Ensure you have Prestick [or similar] and identify where these pages will be stuck up prior to the start of the event.
  • Lectern – if a lectern is to be used, hang an appropriate banner on it and ensure that the speaker/s have what they need on the lectern e.g. glass of water, mints, projector remote, etc.
  • Microphones – remember to do a sound-check and establish who the sound-person is on the Banqueting staff so that you know who to turn to if need be;
  • Extension cords, multi-plugs and double-adaptors – it is important to have sufficient plugs and accessories so that all necessary equipment can be plugged in at the same time;
  • Lighting – make sure you know where to dim or turn the lights on/off.
  • Air conditioner – ensure that the air conditioner is on prior to the start of the meeting so that the room can be brought to the required temperature.

Room Layout and Breakaway rooms:  Double-check that the room been set out as required e.g. board-room table or cinema seating or perhaps you asked for school-room style?  Double-check that sufficient seating has been laid out and that the speaker table is ready.  Furthermore, make sure you know where all the breakaway areas are and show these to team leaders who may be leading groups of delegates to other areas of the conference venue.

Food and Beverage:  For many people, a tea or meal-time is a time to rejuvenate and re-energise and so it is very important to:

  • Ensure that the catering is as you have requested; that all cultural preferences have been catered for and that the times for all breaks are confirmed with the Banqueting Co-ordinator.
  • Double-check that the bar offers specific drinks you may require e.g. if the Managing Director really enjoys Vodka and Red Bull, ensure that the venue stocks Red Bull.

Accommodation:  Should the conference be making use of accommodation, ensure that the rooms are ready in time by doing a brief inspection of the rooms.  This would also be a good time to put any personalised messages and / or gifts in the rooms for visiting delegates.  Check that any specific requests [e.g. no feather pillows] have been adhered to.

Despite the initial overwhelming feeling that comes with being appointed to co-ordinate a function, there is no reason why the function should not be successful if a thorough site inspection is conducted.   With the right venue and the right people, and an unusual level of complete thoroughness and double-checking, the function is sure to rock.

Michelle Longman  [98/99 National Secretary of the Year]

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