Event Planning Questions

Questions to ask yourself in the early stages of planning an event.


  • What is the date of event?
  • Who is/are the speakers for event and what is the program?
  • What is the location of event – capacity of location (seated dinner vs. buffet)?
  • What time is the event (cocktails, dinner, speaking)?


  • Who will handle caterer, set up, flowers, etc.?
  • Who will handle speaker arrangements (hotel, air, ground transport)?
  • Who will participate on the day of the event?
  • Have the appropriate internal resources been contacted (esp. IT, Facilities, Communications)?


(should go out 6 weeks [or more], minimum of 4 weeks prior to event)

  • How are speakers/VIPs going to be invited – personalized letter, printed card, email, phone call?
  • How are attendees being invited – printed invitation, email, web posting, postering?
  • How will responses be recorded – website registration, email, phone call, fax?
  • Will you be charging for the event and if so, how/when will you receive the fee – check, cash, Paypal, Harvard credit card processing?
  • Who will produce invitations?
  • Who will create the website
  • If letters, do you need SEAS stationery and envelopes?
  • Will any invitation letters be signed? If so will each be signed by hand or will a scanned signature be used?
  • Do envelopes need to be hand-addressed?
  • Will you need the services of a mail house?
  • Is a map and/or directions necessary? How/when will these be distributed?

Invitation lists & attendance

  • Who internally needs to review list?  If spouses are included, are single invitees invited “and guest?”
  • Are there any additions/deletions to the existing invitation list?If sending invitation letters, who should review salutation list (including spouses)?
  • Who will write the bios?
  • Will you be making phone call invitations to any VIP guests? If so, who should make the calls?
  • What turnout will we consider a success?  Keep maximum room capacity in mind. (Depending on proximity to event, may need to have a B-list ready to go – if you are doing invitation letters, you may want to have these ready when you produce the A-list, just in case).
  • In some cases, hosts have sent a written confirmation, sometimes with additional information such as directions or advance reading. 


  •  If a seated dinner, who will plan/review the seating chart?
  • Do you need to produce placecards, nametags, tablecards?
  • What other printed materials will you need on the event day?