Event Essentials: Venue Selection Tips!


I wanted to start sharing tips and tricks for anyone thinking about planning an event. I’ve posted some Facebook Live’s on a few topics, however, felt keeping the information on my blog would be helpful to others. I’m calling these posts “Event Essentials”.

So let’s kick off our 1st Event Essentials blog post by looking at what is needed when you start looking for an event venue.

Here are some essentials to get your search and creativity going!

-       Headcount: It’s important to have a forecasted headcount to ensure the space you’re looking for will meet your needs, especially if your headcount reaches max capacity. The square footage needed should NOT be based on headcount only. Many venues give you a diagram with floor plan options. Do not base your needs on that alone.

-       Set Up: Think about elbow room between attendees, aisle space, ease to get in and out, furniture, charging stations, stage size, audio visual, camera platforms, and if you want your food & beverage in the same room. Play with the set up options to get the most out of your square footage. Mix up tables, heights, and sizes. Standard diagrams do not account these considerations, therefore, add a few hundred square feet extra depending on your preferences.

-       Additional Space: Can the venue provide a small board room or green room to work (stow boxes, etc.) in and use for quiet time away from attendees for you & your speakers? Do you need additional smaller rooms for breakouts, meals, classes, demos, etc.?

-       Agenda Outline: Having a rough outline of your agenda is essential to have early on in order to determine your timing and staging needs. You may not have your speaker line up baked in yet, however, you should know what you want to present and if you plan on breakouts, panels, dancing, music, awards, VIP room, or any surprises.

-       Staging: How large does your stage need to be? Will it be just 1 person on stage at a time or are you planning to add a panel of speakers? Are you adding nice chairs or other furniture on stage for your panel? How do you want to decorate the stage? Do you need a backdrop or lighting? All of this takes up space. It will directly impact your square footage & staging needs.

-       Stage Lighting: To create ambiance in the room you may want to add some up lights or accent lights. Up lights come in a rainbow of colors, so you can tie in your brand easily. Accent lights may be needed if you are recording your event and need to light the stage further. Depending on how many accent lights you need, keep a fan close to the stage. Once on stage speaking, your body temp rises and the last thing you want is to be sweating on camera. 😬

-       Gobo Lights: Pictured here are gobo light images. Gobo’s add a touch of class to your event. Many venues already have gobo projectors. If not, the cost will be higher for you if you wish to use them. You can use any image to highlight at the venue; a logo, name, inspirational quote, etc.  Some venues allow this in their entry ways reflecting on the floor, wall, ceiling, or even the exterior of their building.

-       Speakers: How do the in house speakers sound? Will they meet your needs? If not, you'll need to add on a speaker package.

-       LCD/Screen/TV Monitors: Most events have this based on their goal. They want to have impactful visuals and having a screen or TV monitor will accomplish that. Keep in mind, using an LCD & screen takes up more space, unless the LCD is attached to the ceiling. TV monitors are nicer, the images are crisper, and you don’t have to involve an LCD. The monitors are controlled via the AV master board, therefore, creates a sleeker look in the room. Sometimes you’ll see these items on stage or off to the sides. It will depend on your room configuration.  

-       Teleprompter/Confidence Monitor/Timer: Determine if you require one of these. If you use any of these, ask your venue where they will position the equipment so you can visualize the set up and ensure it feels right to you. In addition, if you have several speakers on the agenda, a timer close to the stage is highly recommended. Asking your speakers to respect the timer will ensure smooth moving agenda.

-       Linens: What linen options/colors does the venue provide & will they meet your needs? Ask to see them so you have a clear sense of quality.

-       Extras: Does the venue include at no charge pens, pads, candy, water pitchers, other?

-       Travel: Are there any major city events happening near your venue? This affects your rate, parking, airport flow, etc. Prepare your attendees in advance.

-       Observe staff, customer interactions, cleanliness, and odors. Use your senses while walking the space. Check the bathrooms too. Take pictures, lots of them. Panoramic pics work well to capture the entire space for a 360 view. If you plan on adding signage, banners, step & repeat, or other collateral, be prepared to take measurements for best placement.

These tips will save you time and stress later and allow you to focus on the main goal of your event. Enjoy the hunting process and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me or comment below. Best! ~Vanessa