MSP Tips— #5 Event Planning & Execution

Organization, coordination, and inclusivity.

First things first, what kind of event do you want to host? A panel discussion, a workshop, a tech talk, a networking event, a hack night, etc. The following will discuss more a more formal setup compared to a casual one.

Planning

  • Venue
  • Date & Time
  • Sign-up/Registration
  • Promote

Venue

Sometimes the venue can affect the date and time and vice versa! So the order here might alter. If you are doing a workshop, it’ll be a good idea to book a computer lab in case not everyone has access to a laptop. If you cannot host it in a computer lab, try to see if your campus library offers laptop rentals for students and check out a few in case students need. (Side note: If students require a laptop, make sure if they need a software to have them get it beforehand if it requires time to download + install. Put up a tiny set of instructions for them to follow to set it up on their machine.)

Date

The date and time will determine the potential amount of people that can attend your event. If it is your first event try to do a poll beforehand to gauge people’s availability. Try to be mindful of midterms, finals, holidays, and other community events.

Sign-up

I find it important to get people to register so that they not only get excited to attend but they commit to it. I’d advise against doing solely a Facebook event since a lot of people just put going and may not actually attend (I am one of those people). It’s a good first start, but point people to an EventBrite or another registration platform for a few reasons. Firstly, if you are serving food you can gather data on food restrictions. You can identify if people require vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.  Secondly, you can limit the number of people if your capacity is limited. If that is the case make sure to have a waitlist people can sign-up to. Thirdly, it helps to get a bit more of a commitment out of people, although you will still experience a drop off rate. After all, we are students! Lastly, you can keep track of attendees as it will be important for your venue and metrics in the future.

Promote

You know your community best so you will know what works best for you. In my community, posters are not effective. So, we mostly do everything digitally or by word of mouth. Here is a list of some options: mailing lists, posters, Facebook groups, Facebook Pages, classroom announcements, etc.

Execution

  • Be prepared
  • Do the thing
  • Feedback

Be Prepared

If you are doing a workshop or presentation then prepare for all possible mishaps. The Internet might cut off so download your slides locally. Your laptop might crap out so upload your slides to the cloud so you can access them anywhere. Your laptop might not be compatible with the room equipment so it is a good idea to bring converters and adapters. Something may happen with your room of choice, equipment malfunction or a prior engagement has priority, so try to have a backup room!

Make it happen

Just because something doesn’t go to plan doesn’t mean your event is ruined. Most probably no one will know since you were the one who planned it and not everyone knows the minute by minute plan you made. So keep your head up!

A great tip is to put a hashtag on the board or in your slides and encourage people to tweet, Instagram, etc about the event. By leveraging hashtags, you can refer to the event afterward to do a recap report or even for marketing for the next event.

Get Feedback

Tomorrow I will be talking about measuring success, but I’ll do a quick run through here. Getting feedback is great for you to improve and run more successful events in the future, but it is not always easy. Try to limit the questions you ask and the input options for your questions. If you ask how likely are you to recommend put it on a scale of 1-3 (3 being yes I would recommend, 1 being no I wouldn’t, and 2 being neither yes or no) or 1-5 (1-10 is too many options in my opinion).  Try not to have text input too often, it’ll make it hard to analyze your data. Brainstorm before the event areas you’re unsure of and focus your questions there. Topic too general, too advanced, the date and time not convenient, etc. One I would recommend is asking How did they hear about the event? This question will allow you to focus your energy on marketing on the right medium that is having a successful reach to your audience.

Don’t forget!

Make some new awesome connections with the people coming out to your event, learning and connecting is not just for your audience 🙂

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