Organise an event

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Whether it’s a music gig, a festival, a conference or a public lecture: all events need lots of hard work and people power. Here are some tips on how to go about making sure your event runs smoothly and successfully.

Before the event

Set your goals

Before you do anything else, you need to work out why you’re organising the event. What is the cause or purpose? It could be raising money or raising awareness or both.

Gather a group

Getting the right people to help out is really important. For example, if it’s a school or campus event, pin down some school or uni mates together with any staff that could give you a hand.

Widen your search to collect as many people as possible who will promise support, spread the word and turn up on the day.

Make a plan

To make the best use of your people, you’ll need a clear and detailed plan. This should cover everything you can think of, and then more. For example:

  • Budget and funding
  • Speakers or performers
  • Technical equipment
  • Food and drink
  • Security and safety
  • Rosters and staffing
  • Permits and permissions
  • Publicity
  • Parking
  • Lighting
  • Transport to and from the venue
  • Toilet facilities
  • Clean-up
  • Road Closures (contact your local council)

The more detailed your plan is, the less likely something will go wrong.

Set a date

Try to set dates and deadlines as soon as possible, and put them into your plan. Then your group can make some realistic timelines that set down when something needs to be done.

Spread the load

You can’t do it all, so you need to delegate. Once your plan is in place, share out roles and tasks to members of your group according to their skills and availability. This way, everyone knows what they need to do and there’s less risk of doubling up on work.

Keep track of progress

It’s quite possible that someone who has committed to helping you out may, for some reason or another, pull out closer to the date. If you’re regularly following up with people, you’ll find out about changes sooner rather than later.

Line up your guests or speakers

A list of potential speakers or guests should be part of your plan. You’ll need to call or visit them to check they are:

  • A good match for your event
  • Supportive of your cause
  • Available at the right time
  • Willing to donate their time or accept a reduced fee

This is the time for you to win them over, so be as informed and enthused as possible about your cause and why it is so important.

Find out what you need to do to confirm their participation. Then send them some detailed information about the event including:

  • Format
  • Broad topic for their contribution
  • Timing and order of speeches or performances
  • Other performers or speakers confirmed for the event

Give serious thought to the order of events. The first person to speak or perform needs to be enthusiastic and passionate, but you also need to maintain a good pace to keep people at your event.

Publicise and promote

Good publicity for your event can be the difference between 10 people attending and 100. For more information, go to our Promote an event page.

If you’re getting local media to cover your event, make sure you know how they operate, so you can answer those curly questions that they may throw at you. For more information, go to our Work with the media page.

Practise and rehearse

It’s not always possible, but it’s always a good a idea to have a run through of the event before it happens. A practice run can show what you’ve overlooked or underestimated, especially issues with technology, sound, space and timing.

On the day

There will obviously be a lot happening during the event. But there are some key things to remember.

  • Make sure your group is on location well before anything starts, to set up and help out in case of emergencies
  • Check constantly with any external organisers to make sure they are coordinating with your group
  • Greet and assist the presenters or speakers with anything they may need and thank them for helping out

After the event

Just because the event is over doesn’t mean your job is done. After the event you need to tie up any loose ends, for example:

  • Securing media coverage
  • Formally thanking presenters and speakers who attended
  • Checking everything is paid
  • Returning or cleaning equipment

Remember to thank your group, congratulate them on a job well done. If it’s in your budget, show your appreciation with cards or small gifts. Also take some time out with your group to reflect on what worked well and what could be improved for next time.

For more information about getting an event ready, check out the Event Preparation page on the Victorian Electoral Commision's Pasport to Democracy website.