7 steps to amazing activist events
Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need to host an amazing event. If you’ve ticked off everything on this list, we’re sure you’ll have an inspiring event for your attendees!
Step 1: Knowing what you want to do
- What do you want to achieve by hosting this event? We can use events to; raise awareness, explain something, raise money, get new members, inform key stakeholders, or to create media moments for our campaigns. Agreeing in advance what the purpose of this event is can be extremely useful for making decisions further down the line and ensuring you get the outcomes you need.
- Who do you want to come? Once you’ve agreed what the aim of your event is, agree on who your target audience for your event is.
- What do you want your audience to do next? In the stress of making an event, preparing the content and getting people to come, it’s easy to forget to prioritise what you actually want people to do after the event. Preparing an ‘action’ for your audience to take after the event can be a good way to ensure your event achieves its aims.
Step 2: Getting organised
- Who is going to coordinate the event? Assign a coordinator to hold the event delivery and allocate roles for your campaign team to take on to make the most of the event. Roles might include; outreach/promotion, logistics/tech, liaising with speakers etc.
- Do you need advice from other people in helping you organise the event? If your event involves working with other groups, requires expert knowledge, or involves reaching audiences you don’t currently engage in your campaign – work out if you need advice from anyone to organise the event, and reach out to them far enough in advance of the event that they can help you.
- How are you going to involve other people in planning your event? If your event has lots of different stakeholders, work out how you want to involve them in the planning of your event. Perhaps you want to organise on a group mailing list, perhaps you could set up a WhatsApp group? Set it up early, so people get used to working with one another. You may need regular meetings before the event to prepare. Could you book all of these meetings in advance, so people can plan their time accordingly?
Step 3: Plan the content of your event
- What will happen at your event? Remember what the aim of your event is, and who your audience is. What kind of content do you need to meet the aim of your event? How do you want your audience to feel when they leave the event? Inspired, informed, included? Answering these questions will help you invite the right speakers, prepare the right activities, and set the right tone for the event.
Step 4: Get the practicalities right…
- Plan the right time for your event. When are you going to host your event? Does this give you enough time to plan and publicise it? Does it clash with another event? Does the timing of your event suit your desired audience’s needs?
- Where are you having the event? If in person, can you find a venue that is cheap, well equipped, nice, accessible to people with disabilities (e.g. has a hearing aid loop, space for wheelchairs, step-free access, parking)? If it’s online, can you use the live transcript function on your zoom to make the event more accessible?
- How will people get there? If it’s in person, is public transport an option? If not, can you provide transport? If it’s online, how can you make sure people receive the zoom link in enough time to attend?
- Can people who can’t attend get something out of it? Will you be writing it up, filming it, recording it?
- Do you need any extra equipment? What props, programmes, information or other things do you need to prepare, if any? Do you want to provide food and/or drink, or encourage people to bring it?
- Will the event cost money? If so, how will you pay for it? Will you charge or ask for donations? How will you keep track of your budget?
- Do you need to know how many people are coming before they come? If so, will you ask people to register or reserve places beforehand? Will you close registrations at a certain stage before the event?
- Make sure you’ve got a way of collecting people’s contact details and their consent for you to get in touch with them again. This could be a handwritten sign in sheet or a Google form with a question at the bottom asking if people are happy to be added to a mailing list to be contacted about the campaign. You’ll get most responses if you are able to embed the question into your event sign up (e.g. if you are using Eventbrite, you can add custom questions to the order form).
Step 5: Spread the word!
- Inform your members and let other allied organisations know about the event so they can help publicise it.
- How will you let new audiences know about your event? Can you run a flyering campaign, hold a stall in town, or contact people or will you mainly promote it online?
- Where can you promote it online? Are there listings pages, mailings, newsletters, and Facebook pages you can submit your event to, or could you get coverage in local press?
Step 6: Stay calm on the day
- Write an outline for the event with timings included. Make sure everyone involved knows their roles and responsibilities on the day. Agree what time you should arrive before the event to do a quick run-through before you start.
- Have you thought about things that might go wrong? Prepare in advance by doing troubleshooting exercises – imagine what could happen, and discuss what you will do if it happens. This could include speakers overrunning (which section/s can you cut short if someone speaks too long?), or dealing with a participant dominating the conversation or being disruptive (can you set out ground rules for people’s participation at the beginning to avoid this happening?).
- If you’re in charge of tech support, pay attention and make sure people can find you if they need help.
- Make the most of the event. Enjoy it and remember that whoever comes along is there to work with you!
Step 7: Do the follow up
An easily forgotten part of the event process, but one of the most crucial. Make sure there’s a plan in place for engaging with attendees after the event so that the momentum you’ve worked hard to build is not lost.
- What will attendees do next? How can you encourage them to do this?
- Are there people you need to thank after the event? Make sure to do this if you want to work with them again!
- How and when will you evaluate the event?