How exciting that your chapter or organization wants to plan an event or create a workshop! As someone with years of experience with event planning and presenting, I’m more than happy to share suggestions. First, you’ll need to focus on your goals and gather information. Ask yourself:

1) What kind of event or workshop do I want to provide?
2) How long would I like this event to run?
3) Is there an available meeting room?
4) What equipment and technology are available?
5) What facilities, equipment, technology, publicity, and other assistance can my organization provide?
6) When will this event be scheduled?

Naturally, various presenters will have different topics, styles, objectives and rates. Event planners and presenters should carefully consider whether a particular presenter is a good fit for an event, so that things will work out smoothly.

Ask potential presenters for:

1) A list of workshops/titles offered
2) Time estimates for length of workshops
3) Equipment and other necessary accommodations (LCD projector, laptop, etc.)
4) Rates, and
5) Scheduling availability.

Event planners must take their budgets into consideration and carefully control costs. Some presenters may adjust rates. Rather than asking presenters to “cut” their rates, it’s better to provide information about your budget. If you can hire one presenter to provide two or more workshops or performances, you may save on travel expenses, contracting for a minimum rate based on savings in flight costs. Be professional. If presenters’ rates do not fit your budget, don’t ask presenters to volunteer their time. Rather, see if there’s another local organization that will share costs. Perhaps both organizations can split traveling expenses.

Your organization can consider the presenters’ rates when setting registration and admission prices. You may also be able to raise funds by recruiting sponsors for your event. Local businesses may make donations (receiving tax write-offs for these charitable expenses), and some restaurants will offer gift cards that you can use in putting together a compensation package for presenters. Exhibitors may be willing to buy ads to be printed in a program book or on flyers. Exhibitors may also pay for verbal announcements about their products and services.  Member discounts my be provided. Perhaps you can allow your committee members or top volunteers to receive free tickets to your event. Research costs and compare workshop charges. Calculate your budget based on how many participants would be needed to “break even”.

Sample list of presentation expenses:

1) Airline tickets
2) Hotel/lodging
3) Meals
4) Airport parking
5) Transportation to and from the airport
6) Rental car/fuel costs for picking up the presenter yourself
7) Tips
8) Copy/print expenses for handouts and flyers
9) Internet/phone fees
10) Luggage charges
11) Booking fees
12) Advance deposits
13) Unexpected circumstances (weather, hurricanes, accidents, etc.)
14) Refreshments for workshops
15) Other unforeseen/miscellaneous expenses

Some presenters will require deposits to cover airline expenses. Some won’t mind applying their honorarium to reasonable travel expenses. You can come up with fund-raising ideas such as writing grant applications, seeking donations for a silent auction, or finding sponsors. Determine to find ways to cover your expenses without being unprofessional by pressing presenters to cut their established rates.                        

In my work over the last thirteen years, I’ve seen organizations treat presenters with different degrees of courtesy. Some hosts are unwilling to handle the extra tasks required to bring in necessary funds. Don’t fall into this pattern. Rather, treat presenters respectfully. You may one day be a presenter, yourself!


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