Tips & Tricks of Event Planning
The Communications Team at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry is here to support you and work with you as you plan upcoming events. Reach out as soon as you think you’ll be hosting an event and we’ll do our best to help you along the way.
We know many of you are quite capable of organizing and hosting events on your own. To assist you along the way, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks that may be helpful in planning and executing a successful event.
BRAINSTORMING THE EVENT:
Before you plan an event, you’re going to want to do some research. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the goal of the event and how will you achieve it?
- Who is your potential invitee and is the content relevant to them?
- What are the key messages you would like to convey to attendees?
- What are you providing to your guests?
TIPS & TRICKS:
Once you have determined the goal, core audience, and key messages, begin thinking about the event logistics.
Determine the type of event. Is this an open event or a ticketed event? Is it a lecture, symposium, cocktail reception or formal dinner? The type of event will determine if RSVPs or ticket sales are needed and dictate your next steps in event planning.
TIPS & TRICKS:
Is your venue accessible? Does it have adequate parking? These are important factors to consider when choosing a venue.
Considering Catering: What type of catering is needed? A coffee break, lunch, dinner or cocktail reception. Consider the type of event you’re hosting and the length of time guests will spend at the events. If the event is being hosted on campus, it is recommended that Great Hall Catering at Western University be used. If the event is being held off campus, explore what preferred vendors the venue requests using.
When hosting an event with catering, it’s helpful to track RSVPs so that you can order the proper amount of catering.
Will there be alcohol served? If the event is catered by someone other than Great Hall Catering, and alcohol is being served, you much submit a campus alcohol policy form 2 months prior to the event date.
Determine with the caterer when they need final numbers by and use this date to help determine your RSVP close date.
Create a budget. This should include every expense and revenue; such as catering, venue, rentals, promotional materials, travel/accommodation and small things such as supplies (pens, name tags, photographer, etc.) along with ticket sales, sponsorship and gifts in kind.
For a list of preferred vendors, a sample event budget and help anticipating event costs, contact the Communications Team.
Create an event plan.Include all of your planned details and all of the tasks you need to complete leading up to and following the event. For an example of an event plan, contact the Communications Team.
Do you need volunteers? Depending on the size of your event, you may need additional support on event day. Be sure to have clearly outlined roles for each volunteer and assign roles tailored to individual strengths.
Communication with volunteers leading up the event is key to the event’s success. Send out a volunteer brief a week prior to the event can help get everyone on the same page and consider hosting a volunteer meeting if the event is large enough to warrant one.
CREATE YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS, LAUNCH AND MARKET THE EVENT:
How is the School’s brand being considered, reflected and/or enriched?
Create your promotional material: Reach out to the Communications Team before creating your marketing materials. We can offer support creating the materials and ensuring they’re properly branded. Reference the Branding Guidelines if you’re unsure about whether or not you’re event materials meet the School’s standards.
Attract your attendees: Now that you’ve created your event plan and have the marketing materials approved, you’re ready to launch your event. Consider all of the platforms available for marketing – social media, e-newsletters, poster boards, visix slides, etc. Design your messaging and graphics with the intention of attracting individuals to the event - make them need to attend and not miss out.
PUTTING THE EVENT PLAN INTO ACTION:
Stay organized: You will need to keep track of a lot of moving parts and small details leading up to the event, so it’s important to reference your event plan frequently to make sure you’re hitting all of the key deadlines.
Consider using briefing notes: To ensure your presenters, staff, and volunteers are on the same page, consider creating a detailed briefing package for them. This helps your volunteers or key dignitaries feel comfortable in their role during the event. Depending on the individual, the package might include items such as speaking remarks, a detailed itinerary, and/or a map to the venue. Once the briefing packages are prepared, review them with your volunteers or key dignitaries to make sure they fully understand their role and responsibilities.
Confirm the details: It’s also extremely important to confirm everything in writing and keep copies of the confirmations. If you’ve ordered flowers for your event, make sure to save the email correspondence, invoice, and receipt. That way, should any confusion arise surrounding what was ordered, you’ll have all the details in writing.
On event day, always arrive early for set up and make sure your volunteers have arrived (if applicable). It’s important to stick to the schedule that you’ve created for the event.
Say thank you: Thank you notes are a cost effective and thoughtful way to thank your event participants such as volunteers and or presenters.
Host a wrap up meeting: Schedule a meeting with your team and or group of volunteers after the event. As the event manager, you aren’t able to be in all places at once; it’s important to get feedback from as many as you can at your event. For example, someone working registration will likely have very different feedback than someone handing out awards or working the AV. Take notes from the meeting and use the feedback to improve future events.
COMMUNICATIONS TEAM SUPPORT:
The Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Communications Team is available to support events throughout the School. Please contact the Communications Team with any event related questions or to request any of the following materials:
- List of preferred vendors
- Event plan templates
- Sample briefing notes, budgets, and/or remarks
- Design support
- Promotional support