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Planning guidelines

  • Determine your event objective, target audience and budget

    Defining the objective of an event, which should relate directly to your desired outcome, will ensure your goals and purpose are clear to the entire planning team. Your objective, combined with the type of event, will dictate the event’s complexity including determining the resources available for you to execute the event and achieve.

    You also need to identify the key stakeholders invested in your objectives and consider what type of event suits your desired audience.

    Be sure to follow proper procedures regarding the procurement of goods and services (e.g. a purchase order for goods or services exceeding $5,000).

    We have templates available to assist with this stage of your planning, including:

  • Determine your event date, time and location

    When choosing a date for your event, consider each of the following:

    Check the university’s event calendar or contact us to determine if events taking place around the same time could affect your target audience and/or event attendance in addition to confirming the availability of key participants.

    Use the online space booking tool to book on-campus space for your event.

  • Complete the on-campus or off-campus event application (Mandatory for all university events)

    Our risk management department has developed an approval process for events planned, sponsored or hosted by the university. This process helps to identify and evaluate potential risk and secure suitable insurance.

    All events, on- and off-campus, including field trips, must follow the approval process and complete the applicable event application.

    External Service Providers

    If you decide to contract an external vendor to provide services at an event (e.g. caterer, audiovisual company, shuttle bus, etc.) they must meet certain insurance requirements before final bookings can take place. Contact Jacquelyn Dupuis, Director, Risk Management, for requirements.

    Alcohol at events

    If you plan to serve alcohol at a university event, you must have prior written approval from the Office of the President and indicate such on your event application form. The process to serve alcohol on-campus can take up to 40 days to ensure all rules and regulations are adhered to as outlined by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

    Contact us early in your planning for assistance.

  • Logistics planning

    Once you've identified the concept and core details of your event, focus on the planning details and the best way to bring the event to life. This includes using the event planning checklist <insert new link> and asking questions such as:

    • Where will your guests park?
    • How will the room be set up?
    • What food and beverages will you serve?

    Refer to our list of service providers for detailed information on who to contact for particular services. We can provide photos or floor plans of past event set-ups to help you determine how to turn a campus space into an event space. 

    Other important points to consider include:

    Protocol

    For practical purposes, protocol represents following the correct procedures to ensure that official (and unofficial) occasions, visits, meetings and functions are planned and conducted in accordance with a set of rules that are formally, socially and culturally accepted and expected by the parties involved. Following the protocol is important to foster positive relations and outcomes, and shouldn't be underestimated or overlooked.

    Consider the following:

    • attire
    • honours and salutes
    • precedence
    • styles of address
    • titles

    When welcoming a government official or dignitary to campus, contact us to ensure you meet the appropriate protocols for the visit.

    Communication and marketing products

    Commonly required communication and/or marketing products include evites, registration forms, agenda postcards, bookmarks, zap stands and a-frame signage. To request any of these items, submit a Project Initiation form

    Speaker gifts and promotional giveaways

    Consider providing a token of appreciation to your guest speaker, or sending your event attendees home with a unique, branded promotional item. Find out more about how to order branded merchandise. 

  • Promote your event to your target audience

    We offer several resources to assist you with promoting your event, including:

    In addition to these promotional services, you can promote your event to the broader community, if applicable, through various community event calendars. Free community calendars include:

  • Speaking remarks

    Opening remarks for all university events should include a territorial acknowledgement:

    “The university is proud to acknowledge the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, which is covered under the Williams Treaties. We are situated on the Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, which includes Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi.”

    Depending on the nature of the event, it may be appropriate to follow the territorial acknowledgement with a Traditional Smudging ceremony, performed by our traditional Knowledge Keeper. Contact Jill Thompson, Indigenous Cultural Advisor, Student Experience Centre, to make arrangements for a smudging ceremony and indicate such on your event application. When including a smudging ceremony at your event, use the following language in your speaking remarks.

    “Indigenous peoples traditionally begin gatherings with a ceremony known as smudging. The ceremony intends to bring positive energy and to start things off in a good way. You cleanse yourself and the area you are in using smoke from burning medicines. The four sacred medicines are sage, cedar, sweet grass and natural tobacco. Individuals being smudged may brush or wash the smoke over their eyes, ears, mouth, hands, heart and body.”

    It's important to give credit where credit is due, meaning to be sure to acknowledge event sponsors at the beginning and end of any formal programming. For assistance with thanking and recognizing donors, contact the Advancement office.

    “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the generosity of the following organizations/companies/partners. Their support was instrumental in the success of this event: (list of sponsors)”

    Acknowledge special guests and dignitaries in attendance:

    “I am pleased to note the diverse audience we have today…”
    “I would like to take a moment to welcome the following dignitaries who have joined us today…”
  • Post-event action items

    Post-event correspondence (e.g. email with a link to event photos or a reminder of the call to action received at an event) should be prepared in advance to ensure timely distribution.

    It's also best practice to conduct a post-event evaluation that includes:

    • Reviewing the objectives and desired outcomes identified at the onset of planning.
    • Receiving comments and opinions from attendees.

    This provides useful information in terms of improving future events and exceeding attendee expectations. Post-event evaluations may be in the form of a formal debrief meeting with the planning committee or a short survey sent to attendees. Ensure you capture all feedback into a debrief document for a snapshot evaluation of the event.

    Lastly, don’t forget to reconcile your event budget as it's important to ensure service providers are paid in a timely fashion to maintain a positive working relationship.


Planning Resources

  • Budget template: Identify expenses, allocate funds, and track estimated and actual expenses and payments. Using a budget template enables you to track your spending during the planning process while determining pending invoices for post-event budget reconciliation.

  • Debrief template: Used to identify areas of success and areas for improvement when meeting with key stakeholders post-event. This helps determine if event goals were met and provides a platform for improvement for future events.

  • Event materials borrow request form: Request to borrow materials from the Communications and Marketing department's inventory of branded event materials.

  • Event planning checklist: Will guide you through your planning.

  • Event scenario template: Organize important event information in one document to keep key event stakeholders informed.

  • Guestlist template: Track invited guests and RSVP information. 

  • Risk Management Resources: Mandatory event forms to be completed for all on- and off-campus events.

  • Sample memo for alcohol service: Prior written permission from the Office of the President is required to serve alcohol at university events.