Best Planned Events

Great events don’t just happen they take careful planning. Over the course of my career I have planned hundreds of events from grand openings, to book launches, to special events, to simple holiday parties. There is a formula for successful events and it all starts with organization.

Start with an objective or goal. Then ask yourself a series of questions. What do you want to accomplish? How many people will be coming? What venue is best? Do we need entertainment? What is your budget? Once you have established some benchmarks, check for dates. It is always good to be aware of other organizations schedules and holiday’s or religious dates. If your event is speaker driven the date will revolve around the speaker schedule. Secure that as soon as possible and work backwards from there.

Remember to brand your event. Think about a theme, work on a name this creates a good buzz. In Miami, when I was running a CEO women’s group, I partnered with a University to create a survey of Top Women Led Organizations. As part of the theme we released the results of the survey and called the event the Top Women-Led Business’s in South Florida. With branding today, it is important to have #topwomen and other readily available tools for attendees so you can get tweets and social sharing for your event immediately on all platforms.

Beyond the branding, logo and press releases announcing the event with location details, the real secret sauce is in the special touches. Thinking intuitively and creatively makes the difference between a good event and great event.

At one event I planned, the President of a Catholic School was speaking. She was a women of faith and a Sister of the cloth. I liked to hand pick walk up music for the speakers based on their personality or job. It took me a long time to come up with something clever for Sister, but I knew she had a great personality. As she approached the podium over the speaker came, You Gotta Have Faith, by George Michael. Sister Linda laughed out loud and said, “I wondered what you were going to select for me, I am just glad it wasn’t monks with chimes.”  Those little touches made an impression. When people left the event I could hear them laughing and saying “these lunches are always so much fun”.

Always remember to be grateful. Having thank you gifts or cards pre-wrapped at the podium or in the mail the day of the event is a classy way to remind people you appreciate them. The cards arrive within a day or two after the conclusion of your event and you are still top of mind.

Treat your speaker with the utmost respect. Speakers like some down time to compose their thoughts. Greet them upon arrival and whisk them away to a quiet room with a bite to eat and drink. If there are books to sell or sign, I would pre-sign book labels to accelerate the lines and have volunteers on hand to get things moving as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Planning great events is all in the little details. I must have done something right because I received this kind hand written note days after an event from one of my most favorite speakers. Obviously, she practices showing gratitude and knows the value of a tiny gesture too.

Please and Thank You

Please and Thank You!

By: Jodi Cross

In this day and age, I find myself wondering if anyone else heard those simple words of wisdom. It seems like good manners are hard to find.

In our house, we were required to send thank you notes after birthdays or even when someone went out of their way to help us.  Today, I send gifts relatives and don’t even get an acknowledgement text message. Have people become ungrateful?  Or are they just too busy to show the tiniest bit of appreciation?

Good manners are something best taught from a young age. Even before kids can write you can let them draw a picture and write the words thank you. As they get older, reinforce what appreciation means and use a few adjectives to describe how receiving something made them feel. Even something simple as thanking a person for thinking of you would suffice. Make it a habit every time they get a gift to follow up by sitting down and writing a thank you note.

Teach your children that each time they ask for something it should start or end with “Please”. Once this habit is formed it will come naturally, which is much easier than trying to reverse a bad habit later in life.

Here are some tips to help make “Thank You” notes more convenient:

  • Always keep a box of beautiful blank note cards in the house. When someone sends you a gift or does something nice for you, drop them a note.
  • Don’t get hung up on the perfect words, just keep it simple and short to show your appreciation.
  • When you travel or stay at someone’s house, carry a card and small token gift to leave behind as an immediate gesture of gratitude.
  • Purchase a note book that holds cards for special occasions, Hallmark has some lovely books that make it very handy to keep all your upcoming birthday cards, thank you notes and other special occasion cards in one place.
  • If a handwritten note is just not in the cards, be sure you call or at the very least text to say you received the gift. This at least assure they will think of you in the future and remember your grateful spirit.

Thank you notes can be treasured for years to come. Just recently I came across one from my late grandmother that I had kept and it was so meaningful to know that she had touched that note and crafted the words so long ago.  

I hope the spirit of gratitude fills your heart and in turn you take time to remember those who touch your life in a special way. As always, thank you for reading my column.


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at or at