Conference Planning Guide – The Banquet


The banquet event is probably the most important event of the conference. It allows all of the attendees to socialize with friends, many of whom they only see once or twice a year. While many of the events that take place during the banquet are quite traditional, each President certainly has the option of doing new and different things to celebrate their year with a personalized touch.

1. Assign a committee to assist in the planning of the banquet

a. There are too many things that need to be planned to try and handle by yourself
b. A committee will help in developing new and exciting ideas

2. Assign one person from the committee to be the “in-charge” member

a. This person will see that all planning is done on schedule
b. This person will work with the catering staff to ensure that all plans are in place on the evening of the banquet

3. Things to plan in advance

a. Menu, This is totally the prerogative of the President

b. Table shape and arrangement- the biggest complaint is too many at one table

c. Decorations for the head table and centerpieces for others.

d. Microphone for the head table

e. Location of the entertainment

f. Who will be seated at the head table? (Usually handled by NCRAAO Secretary at the wishes of the President.)

g. Will the head table be raised?

h. Schedule of events for the President to follow during the evening (usually done by NCRAAO Secretary)

i. List of all persons to be introduced during the evening (usually done by NCRAAO Secretary)
I. Prevents the president from mispronouncing names
II. Prevents the President from forgetting someone
III. Assists the President to keep on track


The President probably has more things to remember for the banquet than for the entire rest of the conference. The following may not encompass all things but is a good beginning.

1. The Banquet is traditionally a “dress-up” event.

a. This should be mentioned in the program
b. If the President wishes to vary from this, mention should be made in the program.

2. The banquet is usually hosted by the President

a. The President can appoint another host if they so desire
b. An appointed host needs to have the skill and personality to host a large event
c. Make sure the host has a list of everything that needs to take place.
The committee or NCRAAO secretary can assist with this.

3. Who will be seated at the head table is up to the President.

a. The list should be made well in advance
b. The list usually includes
I. The officers and their spouses or guests
II. The person giving the benediction (optional)
III. Specially invited guests
IV. IAAO President (optional)
V. Banquet speaker (optional)

c. The committee should inform these people well in advance they will be seated at the head table.

d. Seating should be marked to assist guests to find their seats and seating should take place with a common protocol
I. President should sit to the right of the lectern
II. The guest with the highest rank sits on the right of the presiding officer. Those of lesser rank are seated at the end. If spouses are seated at the head table, they should sit next to their husbands or wives. Those who have no rank but are seated at the head table, sit at the end.

e.Invited guests and dignitaries not seated at the head table
I. Should have reserved seating for them
II. Be directed to their seating at the beginning of the banquet
III. The host should be told where they are sitting for their acknowledgments.

f. People that should be acknowledged during the banquet
I. Those seated at the head table should be introduced.
II. Past NCRAAO Presidents in attendance
III. Religious dignitaries
IV. Government officials (federal, provincial, city)
V. Guest speaker, if a non-member
VI. IAAO President or officials
VII. Vendors, Sponsors, or Donors

g. Ceremonies are generally held at the banquet
I. Past-President awarding recognition plaque to out-going President.
II. Other special awards may be given out from time to time.

  • h. Banquet Speakers
    * Usually visiting dignitaries or local speakers
    * Let them know well in advance what you want them to do
    * Topic of Speech
    * Time allotted
    * Where in the program they will be speaking
    * These tend to be shorter speeches unless part of the entertainment
  • * Tend to stay away from speakers that have
    * Political agendas
    * Radical ideas that may offend the audience
    * Humor that may offend the audience
  • President-Elect is encouraged to tell attendees about the plans for the next annual conference.
    I. Should include dates and location
    II. Should include topics of any educational sessions that may have been planned.
    III. Should include details regarding any special events that are being planned.

i. Door Prizes

This is the time we give away five registrations for the next annual conference.
I. Names will be provided based on all members that registered.
II. The recipient must be in attendance at the banquet.
III. NCRAAO Secretary will take names and send a certificate in January of the following year.

Many conferences use the banquet as a time to give away vendor door prizes
I. This is a President’s decision
II. Keep the event moving
III. Acknowledge donors of the prizes

j. The President should announce if there is any entertainment or event following the banquet.
I. Guest should be told whether or not they might want to change clothes.
II. Inform guests of arrangements for the bar following the banquet.

  1. k. Above all else, the President or Host
  2. I. Should make all attendees feel welcome
  3. II. Should make all banquet attendees feel comfortable.
  4. III. Make the banquet a pleasant finale to the conference.

l. The President’s Closing
I. This is a great time for special ‘Thank you’s”
II. This is also a good place for any special messages from the outgoing President.
III. Make sure to ‘Thank” all attendees. They are the ones that made your conference.