ILEA Quick Tips For Event Planners: October 2016

Planning and executing a successful academic event.

Academic events have many similarities to any other event.  It is important to identify the purpose of the event, establish clear timelines, work within budget, and execute on the client’s vision.  However, you also need to take a number of things into consideration.
Identify the academic culture: Whether your academic event is for a school or company, you need to understand the organizational culture.  What are the common expectations? What are the traditions? Are there sensitive topics? Who are the VIPS? Take the time to understand organizational structures, rules, traditions, and habits.
Know your client and attendees: Your client’s role in their community is going to give insight into their event vision. In addition, determine who will attend. If your attendees are alumni make sure to contact the Alumni Relations Department. Or if you are inviting donors make sure to connect with your institution’s development department. Leaving people out results in missed opportunities.
Be inclusive: Your client is the first person you are connected to in your new working environment. Use this person to determine all the other parties you need to include in your planning. In an academic environment, people expect their ideas to be considered. Make sure you are consulting with:

  • Security / Department of Public Safety
  • Facilities
  • Custodial
  • Caterer
  • IT Department or IT Consultant
  • Marketing

It’s important to include all these groups but try not to get bogged down with a thousand meetings. Academic culture is known for love of meetings.  Listen and pull out the critical components needed to execute your client’s vision.
Work with students: Some planners will have the opportunity to work with students. Students might be your client but they can also be your staff. When working with students too much detail is not a thing. Be detailed, clear, and include diagrams.
Incorporate technology: Introducing event technology into an academic culture can be difficult. There can be restrictions on personal, resources or a fear of managing the technology. Try to overcome these hurdles with small steps. Do your research, try a free trial and present the results to a decision maker. Once a positive experience occurs, event technology will be more likely to be embraced in the future.
Sarah Cash-Darvell is an Event & Conference Coordinator at Augsburg College and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of the International Live Events Association.
International Live Events Association (ILEA) is the new name for the International Special Events Society (ISES). ILEA represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – industry professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information regarding how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact