University Communications
Event Strategy and Management

Planning Guide and Timeline

Whether you are planning your event on your own, or will request to work with ESM, our step-by-step planning guide is a helpful place to start.

Keep your planning on track by following these detailed steps for visualizing, organizing and managing your event. It is important to begin the planning process well in advance of your event. Most events take a minimum of six months to fully plan once conceptualized.

The below information is specific to Brown faculty and staff planning Brown-supported events. Events hosted by student groups must be planned with the Student Activities Office (SAO).

Step-by-Step Guide

Consider the purpose of your event. What overall goal are you trying to meet? What outcomes do you hope to achieve? Who is your target audience? Determining these goals is an important step in the planning process and should guide your decisions for the steps that follow.

You will also need to determine what your event's indicators of success will be. Think about ways that you can measure these indicators. [There have been times when an event host has decided that a strategy other than an event might better meet their goals!]

Both during the planning process and on site, it is crucial that the right people are part of your planning. Make sure you identify your planning team and decision makers, as well as your service providers (for meeting equipment, audio/visual, catering, security, communications and other needs). Choosing the appropriate campus partners and vendors will be essential to the success of your event.

A crucial step to planning your event is your staffing plan. While identifying your partners throughout the planning process, it is also important to identify your on-site staffing support to oversee all elements of your event. We offer a Staffing Plan Template to help you organize your on-site staffing needs and assign roles.

Assess your available funding and determine the budget you have available for the event. You may decide to contact service providers to learn how much to estimate for each aspect of your event.

Ensure that the date(s) of your event do not create scheduling conflicts for the audience you hope to engage, and that your dates do not hinder your ability to access service providers or other resources. Do your dates conflict with a major University event such as Family Weekend or Commencement, for example? Have you checked the Academic Calendar?

Not Sure? Visit the University Events Calendar and Academic Calendar pages for dates to avoid.

Fill out a Dignitary Notification Form to alert appropriate campus departments about high-profile visitors participating in your event. Will you require additional security? Are there special space considerations? Is there a requirement to contact the Office of Government and Community Relations? Will there be complex terms that will require a special contract?

Not Sure? If you are inviting someone who is likely to draw significant media attention, such as a well-known lecturer, an entertainer or political figure, chances are you will need to fill out the form.

Reserve classrooms, meeting rooms and green spaces using the University Scheduling Office’s online request form.

Not Sure? Unsure what space you need? Contact the Scheduling Office for advice and suggestions.

Order registration tables, chairs, custodial cleaning, and other needed facilities services and equipment for your meeting space(s) through Planon. You can also estimate your event equipment costs using the Rental Equipment Pricing list from Event Operations in Facilities Management. (Please note that Event Operations is a separate service provider that operates in a department independent of ESM.)

Not Sure? Imagine that your meeting space is a blank slate. Try to envision everything you need for your event, and assume that your space does not come equipped with any of these things! Then contact Event Operations.

Request an LCD projector, a microphone, or other audio-visual needs using the Media Technology Services online media request form to submit a request to the media team in the Office of Information Technology.

Not Sure? Imagine that your meeting space is a blank slate — even though media equipment may exist in a room, does not mean it will be available and unlocked for your event. If you are planning to use equipment installed in a classroom, showing a PowerPoint, showing a video, or speaking in a room requiring a microphone, then you will need to place an order with Media Technology Services.

For virtual or hybrid events, consult the Virtual Events Planning Guide.

Order food and beverages with Brown Catering. Please contact the staff in Catering by sending an email to regarding your request and needs.

Remember! Food or beverage served in any campus space must be provided by either Brown Catering or an approved Brown vendor. For more information, please see the list of approved Brown dining and catering vendors.

Consider the needs of your audience, such as those with mobility concerns and the need for accommodations for individuals who may be deaf or hard of hearing. For more information and resources regarding accessibility, visit the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) website for student accommodations, and the Employee Accommodations website for employee requests.

Also, have your event reviewed by the Department of Public Safety if you expect more than 100 people. Larger events require consideration of guest safety in the event of an emergency.

If you expect more than 300 people, have your event reviewed by the Fire Safety Office. State law requires that any event of 300 or more be reviewed for potential assignment of a fire marshal.

You should also have a severe weather plan in place regardless of whether your event is held indoors or outdoors. Learn more about developing a severe weather plan.

Look back at steps 1-10: Now it’s time write down all your decisions in one document, so that you have it all in one place. It doesn’t have to be fancy or follow any special format – this is just a resource for you and your planning team. It will be important to have this list to help keep track of details on the day of the event. Capturing the details also helps you identify any steps you may have missed.

Not sure you need it? Are your planning decisions in the separate email boxes of multiple different team members? Would a checklist help with a sequence of activities that have to happen in a specific order? Could anything go wrong if there is only one person who knows everything that is supposed to happen on event day?

Remember the target audience that you defined when conceptualizing your event? Now is the time to reach them. We provide resources to help you learn more about how to effectively promote your event at Brown.

Use the tools that you've developed and your event checklist to flawlessly execute your event! Be sure to share the event and staffing plans with your team and staff well in advance so everyone knows their role when event day arrives.

Don't forget to debrief as soon as possible after your event. This important step offers an opportunity to collect information that can be used to improve future events. You may also want to survey event attendees for feedback when applicable.