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Conversation Countdown: A Checklist and Timeline for Planning Your Awareness Day Event

Being prepared and organized is key to a successful National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day "conversation" event. This checklist outlines some general planning steps from the moment you begin planning until your event takes place in May.

Planning (2 Months Out)

  • Convene relevant staff/partners to determine the goals you would like to accomplish with your event. (Marketing your organization/services, new partnership development, press coverage)
  • Based on your goals, create a draft agenda for your event. It may change as part of the planning process.
  • No matter the type of event you are having—focusing on art, music, or dance—become familiar with the Conversation Starter: How to Join the Conversation file in this toolkit as the basis for your conversation.
  • Once you have your goals in place, choose the type, size, and audience(s) for the event.
  • Establish team roles and create an event binder for all records.
  • Determine budget and timeline, and begin recruiting sponsors if extra support is needed.
  • Scout and select event location (determine transportation access, medical or mobility needs, and accessibility to the physically challenged, etc.).
  • Identify and invite speakers.
  • Prepare/update your invitation list, including email addresses for invitees.
  • Begin developing your marketing materials—save the date, invitation, and backgrounder about your event—to support promotion, partnership development, and media outreach.
  • Determine what materials and services you will need from outside vendors. Include tables and chairs, signage, decorations, and entertainment.
  • Plan logistics (room or space setup, food, audiovisual equipment).

Planning (1 Month Out)

  • Send out a "Save the Date" notice to partners/sponsors/audience members via mail, e-mail, or fax.
  • Call potential speakers for confirmations.
  • Inform sponsors about your progress.
  • If you’re having food, contract with a vendor and make selections.
  • Establish your event registration process.
  • Finalize and distribute invitations.
  • Determine all technical needs, like audiovisual, and make arrangements with the venue.


3 Weeks Out

  • Draft a media advisory along with a list of outlets that may be interested in covering the event.
  • Contact speakers to discuss their presentations and see if they need information or support.
  • Conduct a site walk-through and verify all event details with venue, including audiovisual needs and special instructions.

2 Weeks Out

  • Distribute the media advisory and follow up with relevant reporters to interest them in the event.
  • Make staff assignments (including registration staff, audiovisual lead, speaker support) and explain duties to all staff members via an in-person meeting.

1 Week Out

  • Continue calling reporters to encourage attendance.
  • Touch base with speakers to confirm date and location of the event, as well as the time they are expected to speak. Give them the name of the person who will greet them upon arrival.
  • Print final agenda and assemble materials for distribution to participants; send them to the venue.
  • Draft a press release describing the event for release on Awareness Day.


The Day Before

  • Make sure that all materials arrived at the venue.
  • Create and distribute an event reminder to all registered guests via email.
  • Print name tags, if applicable, and pack an "emergency kit" with any materials you may need (cell numbers for speakers, tape, scissors, stapler, Velcro, pens, paper, etc.).

Day of Event

  • Distribute the news release.
  • Arrive early and check that the space is arranged correctly and that technical equipment is set up and functioning. Check all microphones, projectors, audio equipment, and computer connections.
  • Make sure name tags and supplies are plentiful at the registration area. (Have staff members or volunteers at registration approximately an hour before the start of the event.)
  • Make sure staff or volunteers know the location of key spaces (like restrooms), are in correct locations, and that all areas are covered for the entire event.
  • Allow time for run-throughs if requested by your speakers or needed by entertainers.
  • Make sure that signs directing people to the event are posted.

After the Event

  • Conduct wrap-up meeting with planning committee.
  • Collect pledges from heroes of hope and complete evaluation form and send to The Campaign.
  • Review invoices and send payment.
  • Send thank-you cards and notes of appreciation as appropriate.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs to talk, please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Return to main page of SAMHSA.gov/Children | For more information, click here to email AwarenessDay2014@vancomm.com