Our events planning guide covers all aspects of organising events, from small workshops to large-scale conferences.

It sets out a step-by-step guide to the process, with advice on choosing the venue and caterers, designing the programme, liaising with speakers and delegates, marketing the event, budget planning template and checklist for the day.

It is aimed at those who are managing an event for the first time - or haven't the budget to hire a conference company to do the organising.

In this section...

Top tips for planning a successful event

  • Plan well in advance – venues for large events are booked up far in advance and some speakers (such as Ministers) will have very full diaries.
  • Establish your budget as early as possible.
  • Hire a professional conference organiser for major events – particularly to handle the resource-intensive 'back office' activities such as liaising with delegates and speakers, booking accommodation and preparing conference packs.
  • Book the venue and key speakers first – without them you have no event.
  • Include interactive sessions, such as workshops or question and answer panels, when designing the programme. No-one likes to be 'talked at' all day.
  • Plant the first question as delegates are often shy of being the first to put up their hand.
  • Market the event widely, distributing leaflets and using websites, email lists and professional groups. Keep a database to help manage the delegate list and to handle cold calling or telesales where necessary.
  • Keep the branding of the event consistent with the branding of the programme/centre and refer to our Identity Guidelines when using the ESRC logo
  • Ensure lunch offers options for delegates with different dietary requirements.
  • Include speakers' biographies, copies of slides, a list of delegates attending the event, an evaluation form and contact information in delegates' packs. Slides can be omitted if they are made available on your website instead.
  • Post event – collate feedback from the evaluation forms and disseminate. Put learning materials on the website or produce a post-conference publication to send to delegates.