So you want to run an event? 5 classic pitfalls to avoid

Making money, Scanner resources 2 Comments

I know that lots of scanners have ideas for live events – whether it’s a themed party or a speaking event like Scanners Night. So I invited our resident expert and my co-organisor of Scanners Night, Sarada Chaudhuri of Event Detective to give her most essential tips for beginners:

Many, many years ago, when the world entered a new millennium, Britney had just “Done It Again”, and Facebook and Twitter were yet to take the world by storm, I was learning the ropes on how to organise events, with no idea that I’d love doing it so much, it’d turn into a full-time career. But my journey to becoming confident in working with suppliers, fixing an AV disaster at the last minute, and calming down a nervous speaker was paved with its fair share of mishaps and embarrassments…

These days, when I’m not planning an event, I love to show people how to do them. In particular, I can guide you in how to avoid the most common problems that can happen, especially if you’re organising an event for the first time.

Here, I’ve put together a list of the 5 most common pitfalls – yes, they’ve all happened to me too. But more importantly, I’ll show you how to avoid them, so your first event can go smoothly.

Number 5 – Plan? What plan?

Yes, it’s that old cliché – fail to plan and you plan to fail. Yes, it is possible to ‘wing it’, especially with small events, but the problem is that 99% of the time, something will happen that you didn’t quite expect…

So if you’re putting off getting an event plan together because you think it’s complicated, think again. Even something basic will do e.g. date and time of the event, roughly how many people you expect, whether or not you’re providing catering, whether or not you need any technical equipment etc. The beauty of this is that as long as you have a basic outline, you can add to it as you go along.

This is how many event plans and schedules evolve, even for massive live events involving thousands – the more you do them, the more you see the common things you need to include each time, and less chance of things going wrong!

Number 4 – Help! I’m being attacked by a swarm of suppliers!

The common mistake is that you ‘stick a pin in the Internet’ and Google spews hundreds of caterers, AV technicians, venues etc. and you get so overwhelmed, you just pick the first one you come across for an easy life. The trouble is, though, that you rarely get what you want, and can end up seriously out of pocket.

So, before you reach for the computer, take a moment to think about people you/friends/family may already know who can provide you with a venue, food, PA system for a low cost, and who will listen to what you want. Try Twitter, Facebook and Linked In too – you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help.

Number 3 – Do I really have to visit all those venues?

Yes, I’m afraid you do.

When planning an event, the venue is generally your biggest expense, so you want to spend a bit of time making sure it’s the right one. Yes, I know that many venues have lovely websites with dazzling photos, but there really is no substitute for visiting the venue, and getting a feel for it yourself. A photo won’t tell you if the AC works, or if the toilets are nearby, or how far the nearest Tube is (trust me).

Again, if you follow the tips in point 4, you won’t be spending time visiting hundreds of venues for weeks – just start by picking your favourite, and go from there.

The added bonus of visiting a venue? You get to sweet talk the manager into giving you a good deal!

Number 2 – People would be crazy to miss this event! So why is no one signing up?

Do people actually know your event’s happening? You know, it’s so easy to get wrapped in the awesomeness of your event, the magic of your sound-and-light show that your technical friend put together, and the wonderful home-made cookies people will get as they walk through the door, that sometimes we (yes, that has included me) forget the very basic things of actually promoting our event.

And now that we’re in the age of social media, there’s no need to spend a lot, or even any, money on this. Set up a Facebook Event and invite all your friends. Or, if you want to be fancy about it, set up a special Facebook Page. Maybe use a free blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger to put together a basic webpage that tells people the key details like when, where, what, how much etc. And, don’t forget Twitter!

And the cherry on top? Make sure to tell people why they should literally drop everything and rush down. If you’re really proud of some aspect of the event (the cookies, the technical extravaganza) then please let people know! This is no time to be shy…

Number 1 – Well, I’ve been super-organised and booked all the suppliers etc. well in advance. That should be it, right?


Sadly, I’ve been on the receiving end of misunderstandings with suppliers as to exactly how high that balloon sculpture should be, or where the loading bay is. I tell you, the no.1 enemy of successful events is miscommunication.

So, once you’ve had your initial meeting/booking with your supplier, check in regularly as the event draws closer, so you both know what’s going on. It’s also the best way to nip any problems in the bud.

So there you have it. Just keep these things in mind, and you’ll be able to handle most of the things that will crop up in your event.

But hang on. What if there’s more problems that freak you out? Well, don’t worry – you can get more help from me below.

– Sarada

Get more of Sarada’s event tips

Go to and signup for regular free tips on how to avoid event nightmares.

Or ‘Like’ the Event Detective Facebook Page and ask Sarada a question.

And of course, say ‘Hi’ when you next come to Scanners Night!

Welcome To The New Scanners Night

Scanner Nights, Scanner resources, ScannerCentral news 3 Comments

John Williams at Scanners Night - photo by Jim Friedman

This week we ran our new look Scanners Night at a new venue with our biggest crowd yet. (See pic above – that’s me, John Williams, in the foreground)

The focus in our new format is on you and helping make your ideas happen – with the help of 60 other creative people who are writing books, building blogs, launching businesses, starting their own event, using social media to promote their art, or making their escape from the 9 to 5.

And instead of long talks, we lead you through an exercise to get help on your ideas so that you leave with new insights and new contacts to make things happen over the next month.

Plus we share the real-life stories of people who have launched some brilliant projects onto the world and even turned them into a lucrative business.

Rave reviews

Here are some great unsolicited comments we got on twitter after this very first “Scanners Night 2.0”:

Fantastic scanners night with @johnsw and @FreeRangeHumans yesterday – lots of inspiring people and ideas, lots of energy, whoop!

I found it really helpful tonight. I have some very clear actions to take this week. Thanks.

Scanners night was really good tonight, really enjoyed it.

Newly discovered play project starts tomorrow thanks to a great scanners night!

We want your opinion

If you were there, let us know what you think: What did you get out of it? What was most helpful? What would you change? We’d love to know – so please leave a comment. If it helped you to pursue an idea or project, let us know that too!

If you haven’t experienced the new look Scanners Night yet, but you’ve been to our other events, leave a comment to tell us what you’d like from the night – and make a date to join us in February.

The next Scanners Night is 9 February. (Scanners Night is on the 2nd Wednesday of the month so put it in your diary as a repeating appointment if you’re a fan.)

Read more and book your tickets here (before it sells out!)

Barbara Sher: 4 Great Videos for Scanners

Artists, Creativity, Making money, Productivity, Scanner resources 1 Comment

Here are several superb new videos from Barbara Sher who originally coined the term “Scanner”.

These were shot on her recent Scanner Retreat in France which she runs several times a year. The next one is in Corfu.

They’re short and well worth watching.

What you love is what you’re good at

Barbara says, building a successful life begins with seeing the importance of doing everything you love.

Barbara Sher talks about Happiness Levels

H-Levels are one of the many ways to find what you love.

Barbara Sher talks about Resistance

Barbara introduces the theme of Resistance. Getting to know the nature of your inner obstacles is one of the steps to building a life you will love.

Barbara Sher: Do you like to Design, Execute, or Maintain?

Who you are will determine how you do your best work. Are you a designer, or do you love turning plans into reality? Maybe keeping things running is what you do best…

You can follow Barbara on twitter as @barbarasher. And while you’re at it, why not follow me with news of Scanners Night and other creative tidbits – @johnsw.

Find out how you can use the power of youtube and twitter for your projects and businesses at July Scanners Night.

How to make yourself famous

Making money, Scanner Nights, Scanner resources 3 Comments

March Scanners Night was buzzing last night. Joanne Mallon showed us how to get publicity for our projects and businesses without spending £5000 a month on a PR company.

We then did a little bit of Scanner-style networking to help everyone get key contacts and ideas for their current projects. Some of the results were remarkable!

You can listen to the recording of Joanne’s whole talk by clicking the link below:

Joanne Mallon: Scanners Night March 2009

I really recommend signing up to Joanne’s newsletters which are full of interesting tidbits. Joanne’s website is Also check out her blog.

And if you’d like to be interviewed on TV about what you do but don’t know how to make it happen, take a look at this.

The next Scanners Night is planned for Wednesday May 13th – read the full down here.

Be sure to enter your email on the front page to get notified of future Scanner Nights.

ebusiness on the back of a napkin

Making money, Scanner Nights, Scanner resources Comments Off on ebusiness on the back of a napkin

Daniel Wagner's Internet Marketing on the back of a napkinThis picture shows the 4 step system to making money on the Internet. It shows how you can create a one page website, instantly switch on a stream of carefully targetted visitors to it and sell a product you don’t have to deliver and don’t even have to create.

The picture is from Daniel Wagner’s talk at October Scanners Night. If you weren’t there, you might need a bit of explanation! That’s OK, because we managed to record Daniel’s complete talk and you can listen to it for free right now.

Click the play button below to hear Daniel’s explanation of how you can implement this 4 step system on the Internet for yourself.


Special Offer on Daniel’s One Day Workshop

Daniel has made a special offer to the Scanners who want to learn this complete strategy for making money on the Internet. His one day workshop is normally £297 but if you use the special link below, you can save a total of £200 and grab a place on this intensive course for just £97.

PLUS you can take a friend for free (and that makes it less then £50 each)!

The workshop is nearing capacity so click the button below to read all about it and grab the discount now.

Read more about Daniel Wagner's Internet Marketing workshop

PS. Daniel’s workshops are the best way I know of learning how to productise what you know so you can start to make money from your expertise without turning up! If this appeals to you, please do check out this one day workshop.

Do you Squidoo?

Making money, Scanner resources Comments Off on Do you Squidoo?

Squidoo is a place you can share your expertise on a topic with the rest of the world. It’s a cross between Wikipedia and a blog and it’s perfect for Scanners. Write a “lens” on your latest passion and then you can link to your own website to create traffic.

Scanners Night regular Rosemary has written a lens on “Earning money when you have a Scanner personality”. Have a read.

Squidoo was created by marketing brainiac Seth Godin. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, have a read of his blog. I love it.