How to organise an event - ESRC


Planning your event

No matter how large or small, every event needs to be properly planned, allowing enough lead-in time. For example:

  • a major event with an expected audience of more than 200 people should be planned up to a year in advance
  • a one-day event organised for around 100 people should be planned at least four months in advance
  • a seminar for 30 people may need just three months, depending on delegate and speaker diaries.

Setting objectives

The first step in organising your event is to set out your objectives. Begin by asking yourself why you are running the event at all.

Questions you should be able to answer are:

  • what you want from the event
  • what you want the event to say
  • if the event is primarily about giving information, could you achieve the same objective by sending out a publication or by referring potential delegates to a website instead
  • if the event is primarily about new ideas that can emerge from the interaction – sessions will need to be highly participative if that is the case
  • who your audience is
  • what you want your audience to do during and after the event.

Setting resources

Set the budget for the event at the outset.

If you are organising a large-scale event, consider employing a professional conference organising company to handle the bulk of the administration for you. Although this can be expensive, it can save on hidden costs such as staff time.

We do not recommend charging for the majority of events because of the administrative costs involved. The overall decision on whether to charge will need to be made in line with your event objectives.

Insuring your event

If your event is large, you should insure it to cover abandonment, cancellation or curtailment of a conference for any reason out of your control, for example:

  • non-appearance of speakers
  • train strikes
  • failure of power supplies
  • extreme bad weather making it difficult for delegates to attend.

Last updated: 31 August 2021

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