Are You Maximizing Your In-Person Sessions? Unleashing the Power of Planning and Organizing Physical Resources, Venues, and Materials

Discover the secrets to planning and organizing physical resources, venues, and materials for successful in-person sessions. Learn how to optimize efficiency and effectiveness in your next event.

In this post, we'll share our best practices and insider tips for organizing the venue, resources, and materials you need to host effective in-person gatherings, whether it's a small team meeting or a large multi-day conference. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive checklist and framework you can follow to avoid last-minute scrambling and set your event up for success.

Step 1: Define Your Event Requirements
Before jumping into planning mode, you first need to get crystal clear on your event goals and parameters. At the LGP, we always start by asking these key questions:

  • What is the purpose and desired outcome of the event?
  • Who is the target audience and how many attendees do you expect?
  • What is the agenda and types of activities planned (presentations, breakouts, etc.)?
  • What is the duration of the event and what are the scheduled start and end times?
  • What is the budget for the venue and resources?
  • Are there any special requirements (accessibility needs, security, etc.)?

Documenting these requirements provides a North Star to guide your planning. It also helps quickly narrow down your venue and resource options to only those that meet your criteria.

For example, if you're planning a hands-on workshop for 30 people, you can immediately rule out lecture halls and venues with only theater-style seating. If your agenda includes breakout sessions, you'll need a venue with multiple rooms or a space that can be divided. And if you have remote attendees joining, you'll need strong WiFi and A/V equipment.

Step 2: Choose the Right Venue
With clear event requirements in hand, you're ready to tackle one of the biggest decisions and expenses – selecting the venue. As we like to say at the LGP, the venue can make or break your event. It sets the tone, shapes the attendee experience, and directly impacts your budget and flexibility.

When evaluating potential venues, these are the factors we always assess:

Location and accessibility

  • Is it in a convenient, central location for attendees?
  • If many are travelling from out of town, is it close to the airport, train station, and hotels?
  • Is there ample parking available? If not, are there public transit or ride-share options?
  • Does it meet accessibility requirements? Are there ramps, elevators, lactation rooms?

Size and capacity

  • Can it comfortably accommodate your target number of attendees?
  • Is there sufficient space for your planned activities (stage area, breakout rooms, exhibitor tables)?
  • How is the space configured (classroom style, banquet rounds, theatre) and does it match your needs?
  • Is there flexibility to rearrange furniture or open/close air walls to adapt the space?

Ambiance and amenities

  • Does the venue have the right look and feel for your audience and event type?
  • Are the chairs comfortable and appropriate for long sessions?
  • How are the acoustics in the room? Will people be able to clearly hear from the back?
  • Is there proper lighting, heating/AC, and ventilation? Natural light is a big plus.
  • Are there ample electrical outlets and charging stations to keep devices powered?
  • What type of WiFi is available? Get details on the speed and number of devices supported.
  • Are there gender-neutral restrooms? Mother's rooms? Prayer/meditation spaces?

Catering and refreshments

  • Does the venue have in-house catering or a list of preferred vendors?
  • Can they accommodate dietary restrictions and food allergies?
  • Are there ample water stations to keep people hydrated?
  • Is there a variety of seating options for meals (private/quiet space, group tables, standing cocktail)?

Technology and A/V

  • What built-in A/V equipment does the venue provide (microphones, speakers, projectors, etc.)?
  • Do they have on-site tech support? What are the fees?
  • Is there a designated space for a registration/check-in desk with storage for materials?

Fees and contract

  • What's included in the rental fee? Does it include furniture, linens, WiFi, and cleaning?
  • Are there any extra charges for things like technical support, early access for setup, or going over time?
  • What's the payment schedule? Do they require a deposit?
  • What's the cancellation policy? Do they offer refunds or credit for future events?
  • Are there any restrictions on signage, decorations, outside food/bev, or noise level?

If possible, we always recommend visiting the venue in person before booking, ideally around the same time of day as your event. This allows you to experience things like the lighting and get a true sense of the space and layout.

We also suggest doing a full walk-through with the venue's event manager to review your requirements and ask detailed questions about the space, services, and contract. Getting everything in writing upfront avoids surprises and unnecessary stress down the line.

Step 3: Organize Your Materials and Supplies
With the venue booked, the next major task is gathering all the physical materials and supplies needed for your sessions and attendees. No matter how much you plan, it seems there are always last-minute runs to the store for extension cords or printer ink. But with a bit of organization and prep work, you can avoid many of those mad dashes.

At the LGP, we maintain a master checklist of supplies that we review for each event. This covers things like:

Registration and wayfinding

  • Name tags and lanyards
  • Sign-in sheets or attendee lists
  • Branded welcome signage and directional signs
  • Markers and blank name tags for walk-ins
  • Cash box and receipt books for on-site payments

Attendee gifts and resources

  • Welcome bags/packets
  • Notebooks and pens
  • Printed agendas, handouts, and surveys
  • Speaker bios and contact list
  • Parking passes and public transit maps

Session and speaker supplies

  • Flip charts and markers
  • Post-it notes and index cards
  • Laser pointers and slide advancers
  • Timers for keeping speakers on schedule
  • Back-up laptops, cables, and batteries
  • Dongles and power strips

Food and beverage

  • Plates, utensils, napkins
  • Serving platters and trays
  • Ice buckets and tongs
  • Coffee urns and tea/cocoa packets
  • Coolers for storing cold items

Comfort and accessibility

  • First-aid kit and basic medications
  • Umbrellas for unexpected rain
  • Assistive listening devices and interpreters
  • Extra chairs for accessible seating
  • Nursing/pumping area supplies and signage
  • Feminine hygiene products in restrooms

We usually start gathering and packing materials at least a week before the event. This buffer allows time to order any supplies we're running low on, print materials, assemble welcome packets, and deal with any last-minute changes.

To keep things organised, we use labelled clear plastic bins and a master contents list that specifies how many of each item is packed and which bin it's in. That way if we need more whiteboard markers mid-event, we can easily find them.

We also designate a point person on our team to handle buying supplies and packing. They're responsible for doing an inventory of what we have on hand, identifying what needs to be purchased, placing orders, and updating the contents list. Consolidating this ensures nothing gets missed.

Step 4: Do an Event Dry Run
If you really want to take your planning to the next level, schedule time to do a full dry run of your event. This is especially important if you're using a new venue, testing new technology, or have a lot of moving parts and complex logistics.

About a week before the event, gather your team and any key partners (A/V techs, caterers, etc.) at the venue. Walk through each portion of the agenda as if it were the actual event. This allows you to:

  • Confirm room layouts and seating is set up correctly
  • Check WiFi login process and speed
  • Test microphones, sound levels, and lighting
  • Ensure slides and visuals are formatted and displaying properly
  • Do a AV run-through with each speaker to test their equipment
  • Assess visibility of screens and sightlines from different areas of the room
  • Check registration area layout and flow
  • Confirm locations of directional signage
  • Identify any tripping hazards like loose cables
  • Find the best places to store supplies and materials
  • Note the locations of outlets, light switches, and temperature controls
  • Time and practice any especially complex portions of the agenda

While it takes extra time and coordination, doing this dry run is invaluable for working out any kinks, identifying potential issues, and helping your team feel prepared and confident. As we like to say at the LGP, "proper planning prevents poor performance."

Step 5: Have a Detailed Day-Of Plan
The final key to a smooth event is having a minute-by-minute day-of plan that accounts for every detail and task. We create a master event agenda that outlines what's happening in each time block, who's responsible, and any associated materials or equipment needed.

Here's a sample portion of what this may look like:

8:00 AM – Setup

  • Registration desk and signage [Name]
  • Audio/visual equipment test [Name]
  • Breakfast and coffee setup [Name]
  • Seating and table arrangement [Name]
  • Materials and handouts – 1 per seat [Name]

8:45 AM – Preregistered attendee check-in begins

  • Check off master list as people arrive [Name]
  • Provide agenda, meal tickets, and name tag [Name]
  • Direct to breakfast and seating area [Name]

9:00 AM – On-site registration opens

  • Assist any walk-ins with sign-in [Name]
  • Sell tickets and provide receipts [Name]
  • Make name tags and give agenda [Name]
  • Direct to breakfast and seating area [Name]

9:30 AM – Opening remarks

  • Close registration desk [Name]
  • Speakers and VIPs to green room [Name]
  • Welcome slideshow on screens [Name]

9:35 AM – Emcee welcome and housekeeping

  • Wireless mic check [Name]
  • Remind to silence phones, contact info for help
  • Note location of restrooms and mother's room
  • Point out emergency exits
  • Announce agenda and timing for breaks

9:45 AM – Event Time

  • Intro [Name]
  • Assist with AV and slides [Name]
  • Time and give 5 min warning [Name]
  • Audience Q&A [Name]
  • Debrief [Name]

6:00 PM – Breakdown and cleanup

  • Remove signage and recycle [Name]
  • Collect any lost and found items [Name]
  • Pack up any leftover materials [Name]
  • Inventory and pack supplies into bins [Name]
  • Rearrange room and furniture [Name]
  • Final venue walk-through [Name]

Having this detailed plan ensures no task gets overlooked and everyone knows their specific role and responsibilities. It also makes it easy to quickly pivot if something goes wrong or you get off schedule.

We print copies of this day-of plan for each staff member and place them in a central location (like the registration desk) so everyone can easily reference it. We also recommend assigning specific team members as "floaters" who don't have scheduled tasks so they can handle any unexpected fires that pop up.

Those are our top tips and best practices for organising the logistics and resources for an in-person event. As you can see, it takes a lot of advanced planning and attention to detail. But by following this systematic approach, you'll be able to pull off a smooth, successful gathering that achieves your goals and wows attendees.

The keys are to:

  1. Get clear on your requirements before planning
  2. Choose a venue that aligns with your needs
  3. Thoroughly prep your materials and supplies
  4. Schedule a dry run to finalise details
  5. Use a day-of plan to keep everyone on track

With these steps, you can avoid those dreaded last-minute scrambles and event-day chaos. Instead, you'll be able to focus on delivering an engaging, memorable experience for all.

At the LGP, we've learned that while you can't plan for every possibility, you can plan for most of them. The more you can anticipate and prepare for on the front end, the smoother your event will run and the better results you'll achieve.

So go forth and plan those logistics like a pro! And if you ever get stuck, just remember – at the LGP, we're always here to help.

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