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spacefem's event planning checklist

Every year, my SWE section hosts a giant public engineering expo for kids. It's great fun, a little stressful, but much easier now that we've got a lot of the planning down pat, we've done it for years. So it's made me opinionated when I see a big public event going on that does NOT look like it's been planned by people with years of experience... or maybe the people are experienced, but they plan in a closet and never listen to anyone's ideas.

The biggest issue is that events are planned by people who are so IN IT they don't realize what a person needs to just attend the dang thing. They'll set up a website full of meeting minutes from the board, but neglect to post up, like, the date.

So here's my checklist of the things everyone needs to know for almost every event we plan:

  • The damn date. Seriously people - the date and time of any large public event need to be in the TITLE of the web page, and on the header, and in the text description - your DOG should be able to tell when your event is by looking at your website for 1 second.
  • Time & location
  • Is the location one of those weird ones that doesn't work well on google maps?
  • When does it end
  • Is it a "come and go" thing, or a set time?
  • What's going on, who's speaking or performing, the schedule
  • What to bring - chairs? pencils?
  • Dress code. Are sturdy shoes recommended?
  • Who's invited
  • Can you bring the kids
  • What are the headcount limitations
  • Is RSVP required
  • How much does it cost
  • Where do you buy tickets
  • What entrance of the building we'll use
  • Is there an after party
  • Where to download a flyer
  • Link to the event on facebook to invite all your friends
  • Is photography allowed
  • Is there food
  • Is alcohol allowed
  • Where are the restrooms
  • Are we wearing nametags
  • Where do you go to find the people in charge in case of emergencies
  • Will there be security
  • What time is the big group photo
  • Who are the sponsors


In other words, if an alien from mars was to call you and say "So there's a fair this weekend? Tell me about it." your website should be a reflection of what you'd say to that alien. If you walked by a coworker who happened to be at your event website, would you be tempted to walk behind him and say, "Hey I'm glad you found my craft auction, you should totally go! Just click on 'about the event > calendar > 2013 > october > saturday schedule' and there's a link for tickets!" That's a bad sign. Your website should not need a narrator.

If people contact you to ask questions, put the answer out on the website. Lots of others probably had the same question, just never bothered to contact you.

Finally, every website should have some basic pages: about us, contact info, and a suggestion box. We use google surveys for that one, but seriously you never know what interesting and creative suggestions people will offer up. And if you don't have a place to collect all feedback, then you'll only hear from the REALLY angry people who want to make an extra effort to be heard, and that'll just make you feel beat up. People will always have suggestions, there's no such thing as a perfect event, consider it a gift if they take the time to help you out. Do not respond with "well if you don't like it then YOU run the committee"... maybe the suggestion is no big deal and you can just do it. Yay.

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
browngirl
Oct. 11th, 2013 05:52 pm (UTC)
Well said.
*takes notes*
aposteriori
Oct. 14th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
++

Great post!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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