32 people. 5 committees. 1 very large university – 40,000 + students to be exact. When planning events for a diverse network of students, the first and most important thing to keep in mind is to think outside yourself and your network – go beyond your personal boundaries and get into the minds of your audience.
First thing is first. When planning an event you want to make sure you are in a supportive and comfortable environment – the connection you have with your team is essential to the success of the event. When it comes to new ideas and thinking outside the box, comfort allows for the free-flowing open forum of blurting out the most ridiculous things – and not feeling too silly or dumb doing so.
BRAINTSTORM! In my case, we propose different types of music we can bring to the Rutgers community. At the beginning-it was difficult. Because music is such a big part of my life in particular, and defines who I am, I take a lot of pride and ownership in the different types of music I was introducing to the group. This can be tricky- when you feel so strongly about a specific topic or idea, sometimes you do not want to let go of it. Which introduces my next important item on things to keep in mind when planning an event.
When introducing your ideas it is important when working with a team to collaborate AND sometimes compromise (Remember theses are two different things.) With different people from diverse backgrounds it is fun to collaborate on an event. This introduces new ideas and ways of framing an event for the university. It can open your mind to something you may not have even thought of before. Compromise on the other hand is also incredibly important ot the student team. This usually occurs when a team members holds an idea very dearly to their hearts (like me and my music choices.) For instance, when planning a concert that will host a series of bands you may really want to see all 5 of your choices perform, but its important to get a mix from all the team members – it could be fun to mix and match – and compromise will turn your event into a musically empowering machine! But really, it will make your event that much better.
When planning an event it is always important to keep in mind the number of students you want to attend, the location, and time of the event and most importantly your budget. It’s like putting together the pieces of the puzzle! You may want to see Britney Spears perform at Rutgers but you may only have 40-50 thousand budget plan (and that needs to include sound, hospitality, talent transportation, and the list never ends! (literally) These key factors are especially important for Concerts and Coffeehouses when we plan our smaller niche musical performances. If I wanted to host a Christmas Medley event I wouldn’t necessarily host it at the Hillel. It just does not make sense. If you are hosting an event for say your Greek organization, most of the time you’ll probably host it at the student centers MPR’S because they hold large amounts of people at one time. And we definitely wouldn’t want to have 700 dancers in the Easton Avenue Gym over the College Ave gym for dance marathon –talk about squished! Again, your audience is the most important thing when it comes to these factors and time gets tricky when you need to plan for your guests to jump on the REXB from cook, a weekend bus, or the frigid nightly temperatures in the middle of the winter (talk about a GREAT time for tabling at Brower Steps! NOT!)
Reservations are a key aspect to logistics. Being at a big university spaces fill quickly so plan ahead and get those spots reserved (wouldn’t want to plan the entire event and show up to find the space is already being used!)
So you’ve got your ideas, budget, space and all. It’s time for something we like to call proposals over in RUPA. Council gets together (32 members and 5 advisors) to review events and get a bigger opinion on what will work and what may not necessarily match the community needs at Rutgers.
Once you got your events on lock its time to get down to business. When working with talent you will receive riders with all the necessary foods and necessities requested by the artists. Schedule meetings with the FM’s to discuss your event set-up and what you need in/removed from the spaces for the event. If it is a large-scale event and security is necessary, set up meetings with public safety to ensure the safety of your guests. Schedule meetings with your team to keep them updated on the status of all necessary attributes of the event. Set-up a Day-Of Show / event timeline so that everyone that is on your team knows exactly what time they need to be there and what time everything will be occurring to keep things running smoothly.
Scream it from the roof-tops, just kidding. There is no such thing as an event if no one attends. Make sure you send out invitations via a mailing list for a small event. Social media is your best friend for larger events – include the important details (location ,time, date) in the biggest fonts (next to the title of-course) because you want to make sure people know where they are going. Our friends over at the Student Life Marketing Office make beautiful flyers for us that help us get the word to every campus. Flyering and tabling are some of the best ways to spread the word because it is the first step in initiating direct contact with possible guests. Make them feel comfortable – don’t get too sales pitchy- they are just like you and I, they’ve got places to go and people to see. If you have to entice them with some candy or a fun activity – it’s harmless and a fun way for them to really remember who you guys are.
DAY OF EVENT!
You set up your reservations, got your food vendors in line, the best EDM performer is contracted and set to arrive. WHAT TO DO NOW. Sit back, relax, and watch the beauty of a wonderful event take place. You always want to make sure your volunteers are happy, and in the know. If you have unhappy volunteers it could lead to a negative domino effect. Feed them well, and clearly define their role at the event so they do not get lost or confused. And give yourself a pat on the shoulder, because all that hard work opened new doors for the Rutgers community!
Fun things that help in the planning process are the checklists – keep your important contacts at the beginning (advisor, food vendor, talent/equipment team, fellow team members/volunteers). These will be your savior when you’re running around day of event and do not understand why the food has not arrived. ALWAYS, send thank you’s to the people involved in your event.