The How-To Guide to Planning an Event
What type of an event are you going to host? What is our goal? These are the critical questions you must ask yourself when you begin to organize an event. If you are not clear as to what your vision and goals are, neither will your guests. A clear vision of your event will also help to streamline the many details that go in to planning a successful event.
Few events are organized by a single person. Often there is an entire committee, for whom this is not their first responsibility, who will provide input into the event, as well as be responsible for a portion of the planning process. It is critical that one person be designated to oversee the entire event from planning to execution. If you do not have one person who knows the status of everything, there is a very good chance that one or more details will be overlooked.
The Booking Details
Once you have your concept, and know who will be working on the event, now you must ask yourself the following questions.
- When do we want to hold the event?
- What time will it begin and end?
- Will it be a banquet, reception, lecture, party, meeting, etc.?
- How many people do we expect to attend?
You must be able to answer these four questions before you can call to book a location. The person reserving the room needs to be able to asses your needs based on this information and provide you with the appropriate space.
If your date is contingent on the availability of an outside speaker or guest, first talk to that person and get two or three dates they are available. When you call to book the room, ask that it be put on hold, for up to 30 days, for all of the possible dates. Once the room is secured, finalize the date with your speaker or guest, immediately cancel the dates not needed. Remember, if you do not cancel the unwanted dates within 30 days, you may lose them all.
The Planning Details
Once you have booked your room, there are many other pieces of information you need consider when planning.
- Do we need invitations or programs? If the answer is yes to either of these, contact the Public Affairs Office.
- How does the room need to be set up? Theater style with rows of chairs? Banquet Style with round tables and chairs? A special set up?
- Do we need a podium?
- Do we need any type of audio visual, including microphone(s), CD player, screen or projector?
- What, if any, food do we want to provide? Will there be a bar, and if so, will it be hosted or cash? Remember, all food and beverage must be provided by Clark Dining Services, and will require 30 days notice if having a cash bar.
- Is extra staffing required? This includes people from your committee, technical staff and University Police. University Police must be present for all cash bars.
- Does your speaker or guest require additional security? If yes, contact University Police immediately so a plan of action can be created.
As you answer the above questions, contact the department in charge of that aspect immediately. The more time you give them, the less chance you have of something going wrong. Make sure you follow up with the departments three to five days prior to your event to make sure everything is all set.
You should plan to arrive at least a half hour before your guests to make sure everything is ready. If you have a complicated set up, you will want to check the room even earlier in case any changes need to be made.
Make sure you have adequate staffing from your department of organization. You will also want to familiarize yourself with where the lights are for the room, and where the volume is for a sound system.
Finally, try to relax and enjoy yourself. If you are nervous and tense, your guests will be able to sense it. If anything goes wrong during the event, remember to keep a cool head. If you get upset about anything, always leave the room until you have calmed down, the worst thing you can do is let your guests know you aren't having a good time.