Before the Event
- Recheck — One week before the event, check all arranged services to make sure your requests are in place and exactly as you wish. Check with the speaker’s office as well.
- Ushers — If there is a need to hire student ushers, you should advertise the job, interview candidates, verify they are “enrolled” through the Office of Financial Aid, formally hire them, send the hiring form to Financial Aid, and train ushers in their desired duties (check-in table, guide speaker, distributing programs, crowd control, etc.) Make sure they know where all exits and restrooms are located. Review emergency procedures with them. (The call is always to the Campus Police business line at 413-542-2291.) Make sure that they have name tags identifying them as ushers and that they are familiar with the dress code and the personal greetings you expect. After the event, have them complete time sheets (advocate that they do not use their Social Security numbers but instead use their Datatel IDs), pass the time sheets to the comptroller's office and keep copies in file.
- Planner information at the event should include all telephone numbers of the speaker, speaker’s aide, support services, ushers and anyone else involved in the event. Numbers can be listed electronically or on paper, but should always be on hand at the event. Many planners carry their event book to the event. This valuable tool will save time and negate last minute running around. Planner should also have a small supply of office materials (paper, pen, markers, pads, tape, etc.)
At the Event
- Arrive early and check room set-up and water placement. Make calls if necessary.
- Verify that audiovisual equipment is in place and that the lighting is appropriate. Make calls if necessary.
- Verify that the room temperature is appropriate. Make calls and prop doors open if necessary.
- Place reserved seating signs in the front row for special guests (faculty, president's guests, speaker's family members, etc.).
- Know where restrooms and exit doors are located.
- Standing at the door, greet arrivals. Welcome the speaker and tell him/her about audio, water and restrooms.
- Before the speaker starts, and if a question-and-answer period is involved, ask the speaker to repeat the question asked so that all can hear before he/she answers. The alternative is to have an usher run around with a hand-held mike (being careful about who holds the mike and the distance from the mike to the mouth).
- After the speaker begins, make sure the sound can be heard in back, and seat latecomers as quietly as possible.
- Count participants 10 minutes in and 40 minutes in, note numbers (try to determine how many are students, faculty, staff and members of the general public). Log the numbers in your event folder.
- Try to read the audience: note the attitude and engagement of participants. Be especially on the lookout for anyone in distress, and if necessary, call Campus Police.
- At the conclusion, manage the group surrounding the speaker and note the schedule in case the speaker needs to leave quickly.
- Pick up reserved seating signs and items left behind.
After the Event
- Evaluation — It is important to evaluate the event afterward, in order to identify successes and problems. The evaluation can be an informal verbal discussion or a more formal electronic form with very specific questions. If you used a paper or electronic registration system, the e-mail addresses of attendees will be easily coordinated with an e-mail link to the evaluation tool and provides an immediate and automatic feedback to your e-mail. Our most common evaluation tool is electronic. The feedback can be assembled on a spread sheet or the comments accumulated to an e-mail summation. If your goal was participation numbers only, a simple "headcount" will provide you with the information. Immediately (within an hour after the event) send the electronic evaluation, with a time limit for return and an incentive for return (we use a raffle for five $10 gift certificates to Antonio's Pizza). If an electronic form is not available, pass paper forms to exiting participants, noting the deadline and incentive. Have a final discussion with the ushers and assigned staff as well - their perspective will be different and very valuable.
- Feedback to services — Talk with those who provided services for the event. Ask and answer questions, and remember to thank them for their time and effort. If they complied with especially unusual requests or showed exemplary service, go a step further in expressing your appreciation.
- Final communications — Send e-mails or handwritten notes thanking the people who were instrumental in the event's success, as well as a note to the speaker (and also the speaker's aide, if particularly involved).
- Personal evaluation by the planner should be completed soon after the event based on personal experience and evaluation feedback. Note what went well and what might be changed, and track any personal comments for future reference.
- Speaker evaluation can be very helpful in planning future events. Just a short postscript in the thank you note about suggestions for the future could net some usable comments.
- Review your event folder and make notes for future events management.