Advance Planning For Successful Events

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Tasha Garriga, Events Assistant
Tasha Garriga, Events Assistant


Currently, I am planning an event that is two months away. So pre-planning and scheduling are on my mind. Since joining the University of South Alabama, I have assisted with setting up a conference, a dinner, and a dedication. Of the three, the short dedication ceremony, involving multiple speakers and a small reception, stands out to me. Why? Because all involved in planning and staging the event not only embraced their various roles but were also very helpful to each other. The event schedule was sent out ahead, the room was set up well in advance, volunteers were procured to assist directing guests, a program was prepared, and the audio system was tested in advance of the speakers. Thorough pre-planning led to an extremely smoothly run event.

When you are planning any event, you want to set a schedule for yourself in advance so if anything happens the day of, you have enough time to sort it out and overcome the challenge.  If you have others assisting you on the event, find out their ideas, work as a team, and delegate.  In addition to the timeline you set for yourself leading up to the event, you should also have a schedule of events for everyone involved to ensure everything runs smoothly and on time, especially if time is a concern for those attending.

Planning events for a university is a much different challenge than planning an event on your own or in the private sector. As a state-run institution, we must adhere to more rules and regulations, like using Aramark for catering and Blue Rents for rental items. While these two contracts can make the planning process easier since there are no bids to get for each event, sometimes they present a challenge when, for instance, the available menu selections don’t fit your theme or the table linen color you were thinking of isn’t available for all the tables you are decorating. Planning ahead can help minimize these difficulties, allowing you to adjust themes and color schemes in advance.

For the event I’m planning right now, my first major scheduling item is to select a location because that decision will affect many other facets of the event, such as parking, catering, rentals, a/v equipment, and more. My goal is to meet with all involved at least a month before the event to finalize all of the details. What tools do you utilize in planning your events? What kind of strategies do you follow when you need others to make a decision?

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