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Event Planning at University: Go Big or Go Home

McGill students are lucky enough to have a ton of opportunities year-round to go to various events, be they lectures, wine and cheeses, balls, movie nights, etc. Some events are easier to plan than others, but no matter what there is always a hard-working team of McGill students that put in a lot of time and effort to see the event come to life.

One such upcoming event is Combining Two Cultures, or C2C, a national interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Bachelor of Arts & Science Integrative Council (BASiC). As a member of the BASiC executive team, I have been working with other students since before classes started in September to lay the groundwork for this conference. I could describe to you the hours and hours of work I have put into my portfolio alone - getting speakers, workshops, and working groups organized - but that would pale in comparison to the cumulative amount of work that the dozen of other members of the team have put in so far. It amazes me to see how our team has come together to plan this conference, where we will be hosting over a hundred students - most of them from outside Quebec - for a weekend filled with academic inspiration and social networking around Montreal.

For any aspiring event-planners aiming to run a campus-wide event, here are some important things to remember when organizing your team and getting the ball rolling on your event:

  1. Choose people who are both reliable and passionate. These two qualities are key to a solid team: you need people that care as much about your event as you do, but that interest must translate into hard work, efficiency, and reliability.

  2. Set manageable goals. Some things must be done far in advance, like contacting speakers or booking large venues, and other things you won’t be able to do until weeks or even days before the event, like finalizing logistical details, buying food, etc. It's important to set a realistic time-table of when and how you will get all these tasks done.

  3. Be mindful of your budget. Make sure to plan this far in advance, give yourself a significant safety net, and try to both fundraise as much as you can while cutting costs as much as possible as well. Especially at McGill, room bookings can be expensive, and so can food and other essentials. 

  4. Get your friends involved. You’ll probably have one or more people on your team who specialize in marketing and advertising, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t promote your event as much as you can to your own friends, preferably in person. You'll be surprised how much your friends will take an interest in what you do and try to support you however they can, whether just by attending your event or making suggestions. 

  5. Expect the unexpected.  This is perhaps the most important piece of advice you can get: There will always be unexpected obstacles that come up at the last minute, whether you realize you forgot essential supplies, someone cancels on you, or there’s a slip-up in logistics. There’s no way to see these issues in advance, but if you have planned your event well, you will hopefully leave enough of a buffer, in terms of time, money, and general content, so that no one spots the issues on the day of the event.

Planning a large-scale event at McGill can be extremely challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. The many students involved in the planning of the C2C conference can attest to that this weekend, when all their hard work will finally have paid off.

You can learn more about the C2C conference on the official website or Facebook page. The conference takes place January 31 - February 1, and tickets can be purchased online. 


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