I had never planned a college event before this year, but when we decided at Green Campus Initiative that we wanted to have a Fall Forum, I knew that I wanted to host it. Because I am the GCI energy chair, we decided to make our event about energy: Biomass to be specific. Now that I have gone through the month long endeavor that is planning an event at ESF, there are a few things I have learned that should make event planning easier in the future.
1. Find a group of people that can help you. It’s an easy mistake to assume that you have to do everything yourself. There may be things that you have never done before but other people in your organization have experienced. For example, when planning the Biomass Forum, I did not know how to get parking passes for our guests. Luckily, Emily, the Club President, knew how to do this. Having other people involved also leads to better ideas because you can brainstorm with them. Obviously, if you get help from other people, it’s only fair that you help them with their events.
2. Advertise, advertise, advertise! All events need good marketing. This, unfortunately, was something that I did not do. I designed a poster for the Biomass forum, but I did not put up enough posters or put them up early enough. Facebook is also a great place to market an event, but it cannot be a substitute for handing out fliers and putting up signs. Not everyone has a Facebook, and college students that do may be saturated with event invitations, most of which they may not be interested in attending. It’s also difficult for people who might be interested in an event to find it on Facebook unless one of their friends is attending. Unlike Facebook, posters are accessible to everyone on campus.
3. Pick a day when you can get the room you want. The reason for this is simple; if you cannot get a room like Nifkin Lounge in the evening on a school night, this means that there is probably something going on in Nifkin that is going to attract more people than a Biomass forum. Be sure to reserve the room that you want more than a month in advance, and check the calendar to see what else is happening on that evening.
4. Order nice food for your panelists or speakers. The panelists and speakers are donating their time to help you, so make sure you treat them well. Give them real food, not just chips and dip. Also, be sure that your food is delivered on time. This may mean that you need to schedule the delivery earlier than you are planning to feed your guests.
Good luck and happy event planning!