Guide to Successful Event Planning

iStudent Blog

Published: March 24, 2024 by Kesheena Doctor

In a previous blog, I mentioned I am the current College of Professional and Global Education (CPGE) RSCA Advisory Committee assistant. In this role I helped organize the CPGE Online Student Conference.

While this was the first professional conference I helped organize, I have many years of experience organizing small and large-scale events as a member of the Portland, Oregon zine community. I transferred many of the skills I learned from community organizing to the planning of the CPGE Online Student Conference and wanted to share some tips for successful event planning.

Event Planning and Libraries

No matter our career pathway, as future librarians, our work might require organizing public events. As information professionals, we may also be called upon to do additional work beyond our roles, such as being on a committee or getting involved with a professional organization, which may also have an event planning component. Having some event planning skills is highly beneficial for librarians in any field.

Gaining Event Experience While at the iSchool

Though the iSchool does not have any courses specifically on event planning, iSchool students may still be able to get this sort of practical experience. iSchool students can join a student group, volunteer with their local library for events, or join a professional organization’s event committee. LinkedIn Learning also offers some courses on event planning, including Event Planning Foundations and Virtual Events Essential Training.

My Insight into the Event Planning Process

Some tips I have learned as an event planner for both the iSchool and community organizing are below:

  • Start as early as you can. Event planning can take a lot of time, and depending on the size of your event, it can take many months. Having a lot of time on your side can really help with the process and make it less stressful.
  • Be organized. Tools like Microsoft 365 or Google Drive are great ways to organize documents and ensure event committee members are aware of planning activities.
  • Create lists. Create a primary task list of everything you need to do for the event. Then, organize the tasks by task type, e.g., social media, or by the person assigned to each task.
  • Space out tasks. Another good idea is to space out your tasks as much as possible. The week leading up to your event can be very stressful, and tasks can easily build up, especially if you forget something or have any last-minute tasks to complete. If possible, try to have any task that is not time-sensitive well before your event date so you have more free time to dedicate to any last-minute work before the event.
  • Plan for all possible scenarios. This can be difficult, but one great way to be well-prepared for unexpected issues is to have a reverse timeline. This tool visualizes tasks in case dates change or smaller events are added to your schedule.
  • Communication is important. Meetings for your event are highly recommended, and if you are not able to meet often or at all, having a group email check-in with any updates or tasks you’ve done can also help with the planning process. Using tools like Google Chat and Google Space can also help streamline the communication process, especially if committee members are virtual or have a full schedule and cannot meet in person.
  • Know when to ask for help. Another suggestion I can provide is to always ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed, unsure, or confused about an aspect of the planning process. Especially in cases where events are planned by a volunteer committee, committee members should provide some amount of leeway since overcommitting often happens in librarianship. 
  • Be inclusive. Try to incorporate as much inclusivity as you can into the planning of your event. Some ways to do this are to provide accessibility information for in-person events, offer closed captioning for virtual events, and make sure your marketing materials are readable for all users. 
  • Feedback is important. One thing that I really found invaluable as an organizer was getting feedback, both from participants and from your organizing team. It’s a great way to identify any gaps in your events, including accessibility and inclusivity issues.

Overall, having a great event planning team will be your best asset in a successful event. It is key that everyone is committed to the work. In an earlier blog, I mentioned some tips for group work that could easily be transferred to event planning, specifically the section on keeping in touch and accountability. I recommend some ground rules in communication and meetings to ensure better trust, transparency, and communication with the event planning committee members.

Have you organized an event? What strategies did you use to plan your events? Please feel free to share in the comments.


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