Special Events Planning

Early Planning, Organization Key to Successful Special Event Planing

By Amelia Barron, Heather Kamps, Carmen Micke, Kimberly Zillmer

Whether planning a group meeting or the American Marketing Association (AMA) Fun Run, organization and timeliness are key. Jim Brockpahler, Program and Information Management Coordinator from the Activities and Programs Office suggests starting with the five “W’s” and “H”– who, what, when, where, why, and how to ensure thorough planning and avoid major mistakes. Brockpahler recalls, “A student once created a bunch of publicity for a concert and he unfortunately forgot the “L” in 'public ticket prices'.”

To avoid embarrassing mishaps like this, follow the tips highlighted below:

Small Group Events

The most common business small group event is the meeting. Business students at UW-Eau Claire find themselves involved in group projects for many classes. Out of the five “W’s” and “H”, determining the “where” for events is often the first, most important step.

Where – The meeting place should accommodate the size of the group, the technology needed, and the desired atmosphere. Students have several options of locations to meet on campus.

  • The McIntyre Library allows students to reserve a meeting room online with a Blugold ID. Brockpahler recommends making sure the meeting place is equipped with the technology needed. Use the Reserve a Room link to choose from different size rooms with various technology options.
  • Reserving a room in Davies Center can be done on the Event Services web page. By following the meeting room or event space link, students can browse room availability. An account must be created to send a request to book the room.
  • Classroom reservations in all academic buildings can be made on the Registrar’s Room Reservation web page. Students can search for open classrooms and send requests to Carrie Butler Becker. If planning a large conference or festival Becker should be contacted directly.

Who – A meeting should be called only when more than one person needs to make a decision or do a project. Invite only those who absolutely need to be there; have others e-mail information or input if their presence isn’t required.

What – Set three or four obtainable goals to accomplish by the end of the meeting. The topics of the meeting should be discussed from most to least important. All members should be aware of these goals before the meeting so they are well prepared.

When – Hold a meeting at an appropriate time for members and deadlines. Brockpahler emphasizes that “calendar dates are closer than they appear” and to leave enough time to deal with set-backs.

Why/How – To pull the meeting together send out an agenda a few days in advance. The agenda should include the essential information and a timeline. Clearly state what each member should have accomplished before the meeting.

Large Events
Large annual events like the AMA Fun Run take much longer to plan. Goals need to be set well in advance to determine the number of runners, volunteers, and solicit donations. A timeline is developed in order to ensure the success of the entire event.

According to Kimberly Olsen, president of AMA, 15 members plan the event with about 50 people volunteering. In order to create a smooth transition, she said, each year all of committee chairs keep detailed, step-by-step instructions of what they are doing, so that they can make suggestions and recommendations for the people holding their positions next year.

Creating committees is a popular strategy when planning a large event. This way a few organizers don’t overwork themselves and others can contribute their ideas.

“Keep open and constant communication with all parties involved,” said Brockpahler.

Although organizing events and meetings can be stressful, keep the end result in mind and have fun while doing it.

To find out more about planning an event and current events on campus, visit the Activities and Programs Office in Davies Center 133. Check BizWire’s “Mark Your Calendar” for upcoming College of Business events.


Amelia Barron Heather Kamps Carmen Micke Kimberly Zillmer

Amelia Barron, far left, is a senior management major from Waukesha, WI; Heather Kamps, middle left, is a junior accounting major from Appleton, WI; Carmen Micke, middle right, is a junior marketing major from Wrightstown, WI; Kimberly Zillmer, far right is a junior accounting major from Fairchild, WI. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.

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