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Event Planning 101: Tips for Successful Events

By Brooke Erickson, Josh Hurt, Emily Pasciak, and Kerry Samples

College of Business students have hundreds of opportunities to get involved with organizations both on-campus and in the community. Depending on the type of role you commit to, you may be participating in planning and coordinating events. This can be a challenging and valuable experience for business students, so being prepared is essential for success. Two individuals who are familiar with event planning are Meredith Wolf, COB communication and events coordinator, and Shelby Carlson, BUS events planning committee member.

Shelby Carlson played an important role in organizing the 2009 Tee-Off for The Arc-Eau Claire Golf Tournament. Shelby credits a successful event to positive attitudes throughout the process.

Ms. Wolf works closely with COB students who need advice while coordinating events. Both individuals stress the importance of organization, communication, and having a back-up plan during event planning. suggests six steps for staying organized while planning an event. The remarks from Wolf and Carlson support these recommendations.  


1) Develop strategies for success
Start planning as soon as possible, no procrastination! While three months is usually sufficient, some events may even take a year or longer to plan. 

2) Make a checklist
A checklist will provide you with a guide of the tasks still needed to be complete. Make sure to update your checklist as the planning progresses.

3) Create a budget
Keep track of both revenues and expenses. Know how your budget stands, so you do not run out of money before the event planning is complete.

4) Consider logistics
Make fitting arrangements for the size of the event, including space and support staff.

5) Plan publicity
Use a variety of resources to make the event known to the appropriate audiences. 

6) Evaluate the event
Get feedback from those in attendance as well as those who helped plan the event.  This insight will help develop dos and don’ts for planning future events.

» Read more about event planning


“Teamwork is so important. For example, if you’re organizing an event with a team, communication can make or break the group,” advises Shelby Carlson.  Planning any event requires a multitude of people. As the event planner, communication with these people is necessary for the event to run smoothly.  Ms. Wolf suggests, “The event planner should be available to guide, and to answer questions throughout the planning process. Communication is critical to the success of any event.”

Communication may include e-mail, telephone, as well as face-to-face conversations. The planning phase and type of information will determine which mode of communication is most important. For less formal conversations, e-mail is appropriate. However, face-to-face meetings are necessary to make sure everyone involved is informed.

Back-up Plan

“The most difficult part about planning any event,” Wolf states, “is the unknown.” Many of these surprises include technology, since it is so widely used. Therefore, having a back-up plan is important. During Shelby’s experience in planning events, she also recognized the need to have a back-up plan, especially when the event is outdoors, such as the golf outing. Shelby describes her thoughts on the unexpected, “The team leader needs to be dedicated to the event for it to be a success.  There were times where I could have quit because we had no idea what to do, but I got creative and we moved past the speed bumps.”

No matter what the event, being prepared is always important. By focusing on organization, communication, and a back-up plan, any event can be successful.

Brooke Erickson Josh Hurt Emily Pasciak Kerry Samples

From left to right: Brooke Erickson is a senior marketing major from Wausau, WI; Josh Hurt is a senior management major from Chippewa Falls, WI; Emily Pasciak is a junior accounting major from Granton, WI; and Kerry Samples is a senior management major from Owatonna, MN. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.

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