Christian Meeting Planning Resources – December Update

Here is what we’ve added in December by category


Site Selection


Meeting Planners

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.


How To Use Dropbox

Have you arrived at a venue for your event and needed a document?  More than likely, you had to get your laptop out, get an Internet connection and find the document.

Let me tell you about Dropbox, and how it could make your life simpler.

Dropbox is a fantastic app for storing documents and accessing out of the office.  And it’s easy to use.

Let’s Get Started
To get started visit and click on “Download Dropbox.”  This will walk you through setting up a user name and password.  This will setup a folder on your computer were you can store your documents to access via the Dropbox app.

The cool thing about this folder is you can open a doc from there, work on it and then save it back to your Dropbox folder.  No reason to move the file to your computer.

Once you have your account setup, download the free app for your mobile device from that devices app store.  Open up, login and you should be set to go.

Each Dropbox account starts with 2GBs of storage.  Now that might not sound like a lot, but if you’re only storing documents, that will be plenty.  You have the option to upgrade to a Pro or Teams account.

More space is also rewarded to your account via referrals from Facebook or Twitter.  I’ve done this, and have been able to increase space in my account by 2.5 gigs!

Digging In
Now that you have the Dropbox folder on your computer, you can start adding documents.  The default folder to save documents to is Public.

One of my favorite things about the Public folder is the ability to email files to others from the app.  This is great if someone needs to see a contract or itinerary you have in your Dropbox.

Another of my favorite features is the ability to share folders with others.  This is great for teams to use.  Setup a folder for your event, and share it with the people that need to access documents pertaining to that event.  They will need a Dropbox account as well.

Final Note
One important final note.  Dropbox is read only on mobile devices.  That’s ok if you’re only needing access to say PDF documents.  There are some other great apps you can get to make changes to documents on mobile devices.

Have you used Dropbox for event planning?  What tips do you have?

A Few Ideas On Using Evernote To Plan Your Event

I recently wrote about my new favorite app, Instagram [link to that post]. Today, I wanted to tell you about Evernote, an app that is great for productivity.

Evernote is a fantastic note taking app. But it’s really more than that. Evernote will lend itself to working great for planning your event. Let me share with you a few ways you can use this app.

First Step
To start out download the app in the App Store on your iOS device or Mac, Android Store or directly from Evernote’s website. There is a paid version and a free version, and I’ve been a user of the free version up until the last few months. So far I have seen no reason to pay for the premium version. However, there is note sharing capabilities in the premium version. If you have a team using Evernote, that could potentially be a feature you would enjoy.

One of my favorite features of this app, is that it syncs across all my devices and computers in the cloud. If I add something on my phone, it’s on my computer when I open Evernote and vice versa.

Let’s Get Started
Now that you got the app download, let’s get started. When you first open it up, you’ll notice the default notebook is your user name. We’ll talk about that later, but first start your first note and save it there. You’ll notice that Evernote will use your current location. That’s great because it will also save that information in the Note Info. You’ll also see a tab when you open Evernote called Places. In that tab, you’ll see the location that each note was created.

One feature that I like about Evernote is Tags. One way you can use that feature for your events is to always tag every note for your particular event with that event name.  For instance, maybe you have a speakers note. If it’s tagged your event name, you’ll be able to search for the speakers note for your event in the tags tab. I use this all the time when searching for notes tagged a particular way.

I mentioned Notebooks earlier. Another idea is to create a Notebook (and you’ll see that tab when you open Evernote) for your event, and file each note pertaining to your event in that notebook.

I believe incorporating Evernote into your workflow for event planning will make it your go to app. How are you using Evernote to plan your event?

Don’t Let Your Event Attendees Get Bored During Free Time!

You know how conferences need to have free time in between activities and speakers? Well, they also need to have free time elsewhere. If you plan too much, your attendees could feel overwhelmed and are even more likely to skip an activity or simply not pay attention to a speaker. Here are some tips on how to give them the free time they need to focus, enjoy the conference, and simply stay awake.

First, you need to make sure you actually leave some free time. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can start every day at noon to give your guests all morning to relax and explore the conference center or town. You can end one day a little early to give them a night free to try a different restaurant. You can even give them a long lunch one day to pray or hike. Some of this will depend on what activities you have planned, what the weather is like, and what part of the world you are in.

To go along with that, check out what there is to do in the area, and give them an easy-to-read, organized, and extensive list or brochure of the cool activities, noteworthy restaurants, and distinctive places in town (and even at your own venue) to check out. You can learn what’s around by simply calling the site and asking a customer service representative. You can also check out some websites (even their own) to see what’s in town.

What else can you do to help? Provide local transportation information (taxi numbers, bus schedules, etc.), local area maps, prices of each restaurant and activity, directions and addresses to suggested destinations, and any other insider or “local” tips that the venue’s customer service can give you. While some attendees might want to stay in their rooms during free time, encourage them to take advantage of the situation. Your guests will thank you for the hospitality.

What else do you do to help attendees enjoy free time at a conference?

3 Things to Avoid When Naming Your Event

The name of your conference won’t actually matter because people care about the content and activities, right? Wrong. The name of your event is just as important as the title of an article or blog or book.  This name is going to be repeated over and over. It’s going to be written on everything you print out, type out, or hang up. You’re going to be saying it, guests are going to be saying it, and if it’s not great, they’re also going to be complaining about it.

Since your attendees will be telling their friends, family, and coworkers about this event (and hopefully telling them all to attend), it needs to be a name that people can remember and understand. After all, the title is making the first impression of your event, isn’t it?

Here are 3 mistakes you mustn’t make when naming your event.

  1. DON’T make it too long. Most events I remember the names to have two or three words and, if they don’t, everyone shortens them to two or three words. (Don’t you do that with TV shows and, really, titles of everything?) No one wants to study the name of an event to remember it, so keep it short and simple.
  2. DON’T make it forgettable. Do you ever read a book or hear a song, but never remember what it’s called? You don’t want to have that happen to your event. Use catchy terms and relevant words that make sense with your event topic. Seriously, if you or your coworkers can’t remember it after hearing it twice, it’s probably no good.
  3. DON’T make it confusing. Remembering it is one thing, but understanding it is another. Do your guests have to read the title 3 times just to comprehend what the event is about? The title must consist of topical words that quickly explain what the event is going to be about. A long title with replaceable or unnecessary words that won’t even make sense to people in your niche? Don’t torture your guests before they even step foot into the door. Easy, common (in your niche) words in a catchy phrase are your safest bet.

Have any other “naming your event” tricks worked for you?

Top 10 Posts – 2nd Quarter 2012

I think it’s safe to say we’ve entered the dog days of summer and I’m already looking forward to fall. This means the 2nd quarter is behind us and it’s time to share our 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Hopefully this will help you find a worthy post you might have missed in the past…

  1. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming – Brainstorming with your planning team is a great way to ensure you provide an event your attendees will find engaging and worthwhile.  Here are 3 steps to take that will go a long way to making your next session more productive.
  2. What’s A Hollow Square – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here’s a little help in translating…
  3. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat –  If you don’t also spend time on strategically promoting your retreat, you may end up with a great retreat that no one attends. With that in mind, here are 8 ideas for helping to promote your upcoming church retreat.
  4. Ridgecrest Recipe:  Rutland Chicken – Have you been looking for something new to do with chicken?  Enjoy and then let us know what you think!
  5. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over – Everyone has gone home and you want to relax but here are a few things that still need to be done and will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.
  6. Creating A Standout Womens Retreat – A podcast interview with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade, 2 of LifeWay’s long-time women’s leaders sharing what they’ve learned about planning women’s events.
  7. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.
  8. 3 Tips To Creating An Unforgettable Event – Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience.
  9. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  10. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.

Which post have you found most helpful?


Are You Considering The 2 “Why’s” When Planning Your Event?

I hope you’ve been keeping up with our series on the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of planning an event. Today’s post, “Why”, is the 5th and final question in the series. Are you ready?

There are two giant questions in this post which may seem very similar, but are, in fact, quite different.

1.  Why are you having this meeting/retreat/event? Is it to feel closer to God?  Is it a staff retreat with 30 of your coworkers? Is it to learn a specific skill, trait, or idea? Is it an annual conference? Or is it because you were able to book a big-time speaker and are focusing the whole event around them?

Whatever the reason, you will need to consider it throughout the other four key elements of organizing this event. If you want to have a small event where everyone gets close to one another, you won’t want to invite everyone on the Internet and rent a giant lecture hall. If you’re focusing on one key subject like writing or painting?  You must make sure to advertise to people who are interested in the topic. Keep your central theme in mind throughout the whole planning process so you don’t lose focus on what’s really important.

2.  Why are your attendees coming to this event? To learn? To grow? They have to? Whatever the reasons are, it’s critical this issue be addressed throughout the planning process. Once you determine why you’re having the event, you need to think of why your potential attendees would sign up and actually show up. Make it worth their while. Whatever your theme may be, make sure your attendees will leave the conference with a greater knowledge about the topic. Making your attendees happy should be your number one goal, so keep that on your mind at all times!

In my opinion, I think you should know who is speaking, what the conference is about, and why you’re really having this event before you start figuring out where and when. That way, you know exactly how you want the event to be, which will help you find the perfect place to hold the conference. Oh, and remember to be a little bit flexible on everything, because something always happens differently than you originally planned.

I hope this series has been helpful to you and let us know if you’d like to see a series on any other topics, we’re here to serve.

4 Things You Should Be Doing During Your Event

We have spent a great deal of time on this blog talking about critical tasks such as budgeting, planning and marketing your event. Hopefully you have found those posts to be helpful! But, what do you do during your event?

Chances are you will spend weeks, if not months, planning your event. Once the big day arrives and your event begins, you can kick back and take it easy…right? WRONG! Your job as the event planner is to make sure everything runs smoothly as planned…or as close to the plan as possible. This is easier said than done, but here are 4 things you can do during your event to help make sure this happens:

  • Always carry a copy of the schedule – You and your team put a lot of work into the schedule. What speakers are presenting, what breakouts/activities you’re offering and when, which meals are at what times, etc. Every person at the event should have one of these schedules and, while it may not run exactly on time, it’s your job to ensure the whole show runs smoothly and as close to on time as possible.
  • Always have a backup plan – Everyone assumes that some speakers or activities will run longer than expected, but please don’t forget that some may fall short. I once saw a speaker get off stage with an hour left in his time slot. What did the event planner do? He had an impromptu Q&A panel that went on without a hitch. Having backups is important at events because, no matter how rigorously you plan, thing can still go awry.
  •  Continually and clearly express your main message – What is the main theme or message you want to get across during your meeting? Think about why you’re having the conference and what it is about, and use those clues to write up a statement about your main message. If it’s a simple one like, “I want everyone to learn team building strategies,” that should be easy to convey. But if you have a more specific message, pay attention to ensure that it’s clear and precise, and expressed just enough that it sticks in your attendees’ brains.
  • Constantly evaluate – To determine if your event was a success or not, you must first define what success means to you. It could mean that everyone had fun, everyone learned the main message, or simply that most people showed up and everyone stayed until the end. However, don’t just wait until after the event to evaluate how things went. Try to constantly evaluate during the event (attendees’ body language and actions, as well as talking with guests) to get a great overall view of your project in motion.

As a planner, what are some other things you focus on during your event?

5 Ways to Save Money When Planning Your Next Conference

When planning an event, what do you consider the most important aspects? Having fun? Learning? Growing? Okay, all true, but what’s another significant part? How about saving money and staying within your budget?

Chances are if it’s not you, then someone else in your organization sees saving money and hitting your event budget as pretty important. Therefore it’s something you should probably spend some time focusing on. To help, here are 5 things you can do to save a little cash:

  1. Plan early. Actually, plan earlier than you think you should. Not only is it usually easier to get better deals when you plan early, it’s also easier to get what you want, when you want. If you leave it all to the last minute, you run the very real risk that everything might already be booked and/or more expensive. Think ahead.
  2. Be flexible. If your dates and times are flexible, it will be much easier to save money. The venue you’re booking might be cheaper during the week than on the weekends, or if you check-in on a Sunday night, or if you book for four days instead of three, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel or conference center for their best deals throughout the year and inquire about their least expensive times of year when booking. If you’re wanting to hold your event during high demand times be prepared to pay top dollar. Flexibility to take a lower demand date will definitely help you to save money.
  3. Do your research. It is usually easier to save money if you explore multiple options instead of just booking the first one you find. Submit RFP’s (requests for proposals) to multiple hotels/conference centers, entertainment companies, catering companies, etc and then compare to see who has what you want at the price you’re looking to spend.
  4. Use connections. If you have a friend in the DJ business, see if he or she can hook you up with a deal, instead of hiring a stranger. This concept goes for anything from caterers to party planning companies to audio/visual equipment vendors to, again, venues. Friends, friends of friends, and old business associates are much more likely to charge you a fair rate, or even give you a discount. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  5. Focus on the budget. Really look at your budget at all times. Once you create your event’s expense budget, try everything possible not to spend money on something you did not budget for. This will, to no surprise, help you stay within your (probably tight) budget.

What other money saving tips have you found to be helpful? Let us know by commenting below!

Are You Considering The 3 “When’s” When Planning Your Event?

I hope you have been following our series on the Who, What, When, Where and Why’s of Event Planning.  If you missed the first two on the  Who and the What, I hope you’ll check out these links now.  But as we are continuing on, the “When” also has three important factors to consider when planning your upcoming event.

They are:

  • When will the weather be ideal? Depending on where you’re going, the when in this equation is important. If you plan on going hiking in the afternoon to take a breather in between two intense speakers, you might not want to plan a trip for the middle of summer in Arizona or the middle of winter in Colorado. If you want to go skiing, well, do exactly the opposite of what I just said. You can even ask the venue staff if it rains extensively in June or if the snow is packed hard enough in January to fit your needs.
  • When can you get discounts? Who doesn’t love a great deal? Does the center you plan on renting have specials at certain times of the year? If you book the venue a few months early, will they knock 15% off the total price? Or, have you rented there before and repeat customers get discounts or extra amenities? Look into this, and don’t be afraid to ask.
  • When are other (competing) conferences booked? This is a 2-parter. First, when you’re thinking of a date, I suggest you have a few in mind; the venue might already be booked for the weekend you really want, but if you have a few more choices, you will be more likely to reserve a week or weekend that fits your schedule. Secondly, you want to make sure that you’re not booking your conference at the same time as another conference in your industry. Adding the stress of competition to your already important planning schedule will not make anything easier. This is an easy way to lose many potential attendees, which is the last thing you’d want!

Can you think of any other “When’s” that I’m missing?