Planning in advance reduces chaos – from remembering dates to aligning every detail, you may feel like you need a genie to accomplish everything on your to-do list.
We’ve put together recommendations on how you can be more proactive about your events in the New Year. You’ll be on your way to ensure your attendees enjoy their experience from beginning to end and you’ll create nothing short of a kickass event.
Create or use an event checklist.
Using a detailed checklist for you, your event chair or leadership team is beneficial when organizing events from start to finish. Some colleges plan anywhere from 100 to 500 events a semester and it can be overwhelming to track where you’re at in the event planning process. Below is a quick checklist to cross your t’s and dot your i’s for 2016.
Make your event inclusive.
Think ahead about location. Buildings and event facilities are supposed to meet requirements of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) for people with diverse abilities, but that isn’t always the case with outdated facilities on college campuses. Students may not speak up if they feel uncomfortable at an event. They may leave without providing any feedback and maybe discouraged from attending events in the future. Your institution may have resource pages available for you when planning events. Washington State University at Vancouver and Mount Holyoke College are great examples of institutions who’ve created online resource pages on how to plan and market inclusive events on campus.
We asked fellow #SApro’s to weigh-in, too:
Dear #sachat, What is the #1 thing people overlook when planning an event?
— Kayley Robsham (@kayleyrobsham) December 16, 2015
@kayleyrobsham accommodations. Even as simple as including text on a presentation or making presenter use mic.
— Sarah Maddox (@sarahhmaddox) December 16, 2015
— Jody Miele (@mielejody) December 16, 2015
@kayleyrobsham if there an audience interested in the topic. i can count multiple times where ive seen boxes and boxes of pizza and 0 stdnts
— Matt Cummings (@mattwcummings) December 16, 2015
If food is served, is there something for vegetarians? If bottled beverages are present, are recyclables gathered? https://t.co/f1RM1zoENG
— Alexander (@AlexanderMoylan) December 16, 2015
If there are any activities at your event, think of ways you can make the activity inclusive to students with varying physical abilities.
Offer an assortment of food and beverages. Start a conversation with campus dining (Sodexo, Aramark, Bon Appetit, Chartwells, etc) to find gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian options. They may be able to provide a list of ingredients and nutritional labels to display during the event for students with allergies, unique diets, or religious reasons. Small changes like these create a sense of belonging for students and speak volumes about your event.
Develop an event narrative.
It’s important to get everyone that’s helping plan the event on the same page. Here are questions that will guide you to guide your team to get there. Create a storyline for your event:
- Why are we hosting this event? This might be easy to answer on your own and it’s helpful to bring back to the group at large for different perspectives.
- To whom are we talking? Think of your target audience’s mindset, lifestyle, and personalities – what makes them tick?
- What should the event look like and feel like? Determine what type of music, lighting, and space you need.
Attendees at your event remember the energy created in the space, the time you take in preparing every detail won’t go unnoticed.
Organize the best check-in.
This is the first opportunity you have to create a positive experience for your event attendees. Paper check-ins and head counts are a thing of the past. Millennials and Generation Z students are looking for new and creative ways to be engaged with at events and expect event organizers to use the most up-to-date technology.
Branch out from behind the table and interact with students on-campus. It’s important to give each staff member a role whether it’s checking in students via card-swipe mobile technology, welcoming them to the event, or managing social media so everyone has a role in making the event a success. Splitting up roles also allows for better problem solving during your event: you don’t want to leave a bad taste in a student’s mouth because of a poor event experience.
Small interactions with student leaders or staff determine the happiness level of the students attending your event.
Assess your event.
Event organizers often send emails or surveys to students to receive post-event feedback. It’s hard to get raw feelings about a student’s event experience days or even hours after an event. With our vast team experience at Check I’m Here, we decided to create a live poll feature which allows students to answer questions at the beginning of the event via mobile so we don’t have to hound students for every piece of information later. Some examples of live poll questions include:
- How did you hear about this event?
- Did you bring a friend with you?
- What type of event would you like to see in the future?
Anticipate, don’t avoid.
After your to-do list has been checked off, go back and double check every item to make sure your team is fully prepared. Planning an event, no matter how big or small can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Something may fall through or you may think of a new component you want to add to the event. No matter what, smile, breathe and be your own event guru!