The Humble Checklist – simple yet effective!

Heather Reid


The humble checklist is used everyday… in life saving situations and in mundane routine living! Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto” makes the case for checklists being used in any manner of endeavours – from business to investing, from law to medicine, and from construction to aviation. In fact, most parents of a school age child have probably just used a simple “Checklist” to get their child’s “back to school” supplies coordinated!

So, you may be thinking – why am I writing about “checklists”? What do they have to do with negotiating venue contracts? Well, in my experience – my trusted 52 item checklist is the only way I guarantee myself that I have considered ALL of the aspects of a venue contract.

A little history….
Years ago… okay, over 2 decades ago… when I first had the responsibility of negotiating venue contracts – I had to learn everything from scratch and it was overwhelming. I started keeping hard copies of everything I found as reference.

Eventually, I found “my pile” (or should I say “piles”) to be ineffective and cumbersome… I needed a different strategy. Thus my “venue contract binder” was birthed! With a simple set of alphabetical sorters A – Z, I sorted “my pile of papers” into keywords such as attrition, letters of intent, cancellation and unionized workers. Now 22 years later, I have amassed 52 keywords that relate to venue contracts and my binder is absolutely essential to my everyday work!

So, how does my venue contract binder help me?

What’s in my binder?

  • I keep explanations of keywords that I find useful
  • I have definitions printed out
  • I have documents that contain the opinions of respected legal counsel
  • I have examples of bad clauses
  • I have examples of balanced clauses
  • I have examples of case studies

How do I use it in reviewing my contracts?

  • I reference the materials in my binder to ensure that I am accurately representing and explaining what I need to achieve a BALANCED contract
  • When I’m requesting a concept that is lesser known (ie., Co-dependency clause), I reference case studies and examples to defend my request
  • When I’m reviewing the contract for what is NOT there… I use my checklist because I can’t possibly remember everything that should be addressed!

So, what do I recommend you do?

  • Start your own reference binder – either in hard copy or electronic
  • Add anything you find that offers context, wording, explanation, precedent to concepts in venue contracts
  • Reference it every time you do a venue contract review
  • Stay tuned here… because all 52 items will be identified over time!

Although reviewing venue contracts is not a life and death exercise, doing a thorough and in-depth job is essential!

It is essential… to the integrity of the venue contract that is the basis of your event.

It is essential… to growing your expertise in one of our core responsibilities.

It is essential… to collectively moving the professionalism of our industry forward.


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