Before the ideas for a program even begin to flow, the group must know its goals and mission.  For example, the biological honor society probably would not want to sponsor a comedian/hypnotist.  Once you know your basic organizational mission, you can begin to think of good program ideas.

A great source is your group members. There is a world of knowledge and limitless ideas in the minds of the people in your group.  You might want to begin by setting goals and objectives for the semester with your group to help everyone know what should or could be accomplished.  Next, get together and brainstorm ideas.  Let your imagination go wild.  Write down every idea for about two minutes, and then begin to narrow down the true possibilities.  

Make sure that when you are planning an event, you take into consideration every expense possible.  This could include guest speaker costs (performance, lodging, transportation), refreshments, audio/visual equipment, staffing, promotion, etc.  It may be a good idea to budget a little extra money for last-minute expenses.

You don't want to have a program on the same night as another big event.  Also, you don’t want to repeat events that have recently been sponsored, like bringing two big bands within few weeks of each other.  It is also good to know what is happening so that your group can program cooperatively with another organization.  For example, if one group is sponsoring a fashion show and would like to have some entertainment before the event, your group may sponsor a band to perform.  You can check with the Center for Student Enrichment or visit the events calendar to find out what programs or activities are happening during the time period when you would like to do a program.

Delegating responsibility to group members is not only necessary, it can be a great experience.  Make sure that members sign up for duties they want to perform, and assure them that you are there to answer their questions.  Remember:  new members need to have responsibilities, too.  It is to your group’s benefit to have a group member take the extra time to help them through the first time they perform a task.

Program promotion is probably the most important thing that happens in the planning of an event. All your hard work in organizing something doesn't pay off unless people know about it.  While organizing your promotional campaign, consider the following:

  • What is your objective in organizing this event?  Is it intended to inform, entertain, etc.?
  • Who is your target audience? Is the event just for organization members?  The whole campus community?  The Marquette community?
  • What is your timeline?  Should your group have a promo teaser?  When should posters go up?  What kind of power-promoting do you want for the couple days before the event?
  • Make personal contact with people!  Will you visit classrooms or other organization meetings?  Will you talk to Housing and Residence Life staff to get their help?  Will you do a skit in the dining rooms at meal times?
  • How can you make your promotional efforts unique to the event you are sponsoring?  Try things such as banners, buttons, or interviews on WUPX.

The more interesting, direct, and different your promotion is, the more people will notice and want to know more.

The production aspects of each event are going to vary greatly depending on the type.  Making sure that staging, lights, audio/visual equipment, etc., is set up and ready to go will ensure a smoother performance.  Also, double-check that everyone knows his/her role; delegation is much more effective when people are sure of what to do.  For more information on reserving equipment, facilities, etc., stop by the Center for Student Enrichment, 1101 Northern Center.

It is very important, no matter if this was your organization’s first event or twentieth, to evaluate your performance as a group.  Evaluation should be solicited by both group members and by those in attendance at your event (if applicable).  Soliciting an evaluation from group members is easy and can be done either immediately following the activity or at the next group meeting, and should be written.  Even more important is the feedback received from your audience.  This can be collected in many ways:

  • A written evaluation of the event to be completed before the audience leaves.  Keep it brief and simple.
  • A doodle poll a few days after the event to get a sampling of what the audience felt.
  • A written evaluation sent to audience members to be completed and sent back.  Don't forget to set a deadline for returning such a survey.

After gathering all the feedback, you can share it with the group as a whole and discuss ways to improve your next event.  Be prepared for both positive and constructive feedback and help the group process the information so that it is useful and not a source of disappointment or frustration.  Keep a written evaluation record for future reference.

Programming Assistance

Staff in the Center for Student Enrichment are always available to assist student organizations with planning and executing a successful program.  Areas where we can be helpful include:

  • Finding and securing funding.
  • Scheduling a date that minimizes conflict with other events and maximizes attendance.
  • Executing contacts and other agreements.
  • Developing effective promotion and publicity.
  • Arranging for production details (sound, lighting, equipment needs, ticketing, etc.).

Please call us if you have questions or need assistance - the sooner the better!

Event Planning Checklist