Advice and Best Practices
- Audiences and Reach
- Timing of the Event
- Determining the Space
- Registering the Event
- Titles and Descriptions
- Day of the Event
- What audiences are expected to attend? Knowing who will attend is critical for planning an event. Common audiences for campus events include students, faculty, staff, the general public, alumni, and prospective families.
- Will your audiences be able to attend at the chosen time? Students have classes on weekdays, including Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Some staff and faculty commute to campus and cannot attend events in the evening. Etc.
- Are there other events occurring the same day that your audiences would want to attend? Most people will not have enough time to attend many events in a single day. For instance, students may be interested in and could attend two events in the same evening, but will elect to attend only one in order to have time to complete coursework, socialize, etc.
- Are you trying to engage an entire audience or only part of an audience? Events focusing on a subset of an audience (information session for students wanting to study abroad) will likely be preferred over events which are for any member of that audience (a lecture).
- Is there a signature event occurring the same day? Signature events are deemed to be a priority and will receive the highest level of promotion and resources. Event coordinators are strongly discouraged from planing an event which occurs the same day as a signature event.
- When in the semester does the event occur? The last few weeks of each semester have many events, particularly with performances and presentations as courses near their end. Likewise, students and faculty are busy around midterms and finals and may not have the time to attend events.
- In which semester does the event occur? Spring semester tends to have significantly more events than fall semester. Event coordinators are encouraged to plan their events for the fall semester to minimize their chance of conflicting with other events.
- How many will be in attendance? Generally, the ideal space comfortably accommodates the number of people expected to attend. Consult the room directory to see the capacity of each space. Each space also lists similar spaces on campus which may work better or as an alternative for an event.
- What will people be doing at the event? Each space is set up to best accommodate certain types of events. For instance, meetings and workshops might benefit from movable furniture or proximity to other rooms whereas lectures and performances need larger, fixed rooms.
- What are the limitations of the space? Confirm in the room directory and with room coordinators that there are no limitations on what the space can be used for. For instance, food and drink is not allowed in many rooms, or some spaces are only available to certain kinds of events or at specific times of the year.
- Does the room already have the furniture and audio-visual equipment needed? Using a space already equipped with needed furniture and technology, such as movable tables or a projector, avoids needing to request campus resources to provide these needs.
- Does the event need audio-visual support, additional technology, or room setup? For events which need a sound board and multiple microphones, are being recorded, etc, make sure the event space has enough space for both the event and the additional equipment. The space should also be reserved for some time before the event to give campus staff time to set up for the event.
- Is another event occurring soon before or after this event? Events occurring in the same space around the same time can limit the time available for setup or require the quick removal of equipment. Event coordinators with events in this situation should contact and collaborate with the other event coordinator(s) and shared campus resources (IT, Facilities, Bon Appétit) to ensure a smooth transition between the events.
- Is the event occurring outside? In the event of inclement weather, outdoor events should have an indoor space booked as an alternative location.
- When should an event be registered? Event coordinators that need promotion or campus resources should register their event as soon as possible once the event's main details are decided (title, date, time, description, location) and the event's space is reserved.
- Is there enough time to promote your event? Events are promoted on the Master Calendar, on digital signage around campus, and in daily event reminder emails. Event coordinators should register their events at least two weeks in advance to ensure it is available to be promoted in these channels for the maximum time possible.
- Is there enough time to request additional campus resources? Campus resources involved in event planning, promotion, and operation expect to receive requests for assistance at least two weeks in advance in order to plan and provide support. Event coordinators must also register their events before requesting campus resources. Resource requests received less than two weeks in advance may only receive limited or no assistance depending on circumstances.
In addition to fundamental details about when and where an event takes place, a title and description are required when registering an event. Both of these elements should work together to help users best understand what the event is and why they may want to attend.
The title is an event's most visible element, appearing in all forms of promotion on the website and across campus. An ideal title should inform users of what the content of the event is as concisely as possible..
- Focus on the content of the event. What is the topic of a lecture, panel, or workshop? What will attendees be doing in an activity based event? Give users enough information to imagine what the event will be and will be about.
- Try to be creative and compelling. While a title such as "Public Speaking Workshop" is good and gives a clear idea of what the event will be, it does not go a step further to capture the user's attention. Try writing alternatives and decide on one which is both descriptive and compelling. For instance, the previous title could instead be, "'Learn to Speak with Confidence' Workshop".
- Avoid including the names of guests. Unless a guest or speaker is universally known (a politician, actor, etc), an event title such as, "Lecture by Jane Appleton," tells nothing about the event's content: "what is the lecture about?" One exception would be when the guest is the topic of the event, such as tabling sessions with employers: "XYZ Systems Employment Session".
- Avoid including the names of hosts (offices, departments, etc). The names of hosts often echo the broad topic which a descriptive title would make clear: "Attendance in Rural Schools" implies a tie to education. One exception would be when an event is part of a larger event or set of events, such as with a residency: "Ferrall Residency Performance: 'Dancing without the Music'."
- Be concise. The title should give enough information to get a user interested while being concise and easy to skim in a list.
- Avoid acronyms. Unless universally understood (CPR, NASA, etc), not every user will understand what an acronym stands for. Always list the full name of campus entities, even if their acronyms (LAPC, COA, etc) seem to be well understood.
- Formatting the title. Capitalize the first letter of first, last, and each significant word. Never use ALLCAPS for a title.
Examples of effective event titles which provides a user enough information to understand what the event is:
- "Aliens in the Fossil Record: Understanding Early Complex Life"
- "Café Loco (Spanish Conversation and Culture Hour)"
- "Coffee with the President"
- "Men's Soccer At Lawrence University"
- "Scaling Lo-Carbon Energy for the Developing and Developed World"
- "Zumba Fitness"
The description provides the user a complete sense of the event's content. Users will read the description to have their questions about the event answered so they can make a decision about attending or not.
- Focus again on the content of the event. Users will want to know what the event is (lecture, workshop, etc) and will be about (altruism, polar bears, etc). What will attendees see, experience, learn, etc? Have the description answer any common question a user might ask.
- Descriptions are required. Event titles alone cannot provide all the information about an event. Use the description to give more context; do not leave it blank or copy the title into the description. For instance, regular campus committee events can use the field to give users a sense of the committee's purpose on campus, what is often discussed at meetings, and whether the meetings are open for the public to observe or participate in.
- Do not use, "to be determined". Events still in the early planning stages should have their topic and purpose determined, even if details on the exact speaker or event schedule may not be. When first submitting a request, focus on these elements when writing the description and request an update later once more details are determined. Avoid stating that details are, "to be determined," as users will be discouraged from attending events which do not provide any information. For example, the description for a workshop being planned could be: "This workshop is intended to help students become better speakers through sessions focused on observing, writing, practicing, and presenting speeches."
- Write for any and everyone. Have the description be a short introduction to a given topic so that anyone, regardless of previous knowledge, is able to have a sense of the event's content and purpose. This is less important for events with a narrow audience, such as a math colloquium intended for senior math students, but even a somewhat understandable description could inspire a user to attend and learn more.
- Include information on guests as a supplement. The biography and qualifications of a guest speaker alone does not provide a user any information about the event itself. Use it to supplement the description of the event, providing context to why the guest is speaking about the topic or their qualifications. For instance, a cancer survivor or a medical expert speaking about cancer prevention.
- Avoid repeating details. An event listing is set up to show details such as date, time, duration, location, host (sponsor), contact, webpage, etc. Avoid sharing these details again in the description.
- Use to expand on details. Workshops can outline sessions taking place during the larger workshop. Lectures and panels can list readings that attendees are suggested to read for more context. An event of a series can mention the next event so that those interested but unable to attend the first have an alternative opportunity. What meaningful details can be included to expand the user's understanding of the event or related topics?
- Is a guest or an outside vendor (rentals, deliveries, etc) coming to campus? Provide any guests or outside vendors specific directions to reach and navigate campus as well as direct contact cell phone number should they need assistance or to inform you of their arrival. Be prepared for their arrival and ready to assist them as necessary.