If you missed the last two posts, check those out for more tips. Part 1 covers the event program, timing, venue, and awards. Part 2 discusses marketing, event registration, sponsors, and student attendance.
I think the emcee is one of the most important selections to make during the planning phase. It’s best to have someone who has been to the event before so they understand the flow. We used to choose local celebrities or politicians as emcees, but this didn’t work as well as someone who understood the purpose of the event and the projects that are recognized. A dynamic person who reads aloud very well (trust me…this is important and not as common as you would think) is the best candidate for this job. Kristina Swallow (past Director of Region 8) has volunteered to do this for three years and she’s been great!
We generally have a speaker talk for about 20-30 minutes at the awards banquet. Since our monthly luncheons are based on technical topics, we like to choose speakers who are well-known members of the local community and that speak about non-technical subjects. For example, last year we had the owner of the local minor league baseball team speak about how they’re forming a major league soccer team at the ballpark. It was very engaging and a change of pace for our members.
The essentials for the room setup are: stage, podium, award tables, and a bar. We have a cocktail hour for about 45 minutes before the actual event starts. We have a no-host bar (to keep the cost down) but students are given drink coupons (as an incentive to attend the event). We set the room in rounds of 8 to maintain the benefits we offer with sponsoring a table (six seats plus two students assigned to each table). I always forget to ask the venue to set up award tables on the stage, but it’s really important to ensure the award presentation is organized and everything is in the right order. Anything else (like raffle tables or room for the concrete canoe) would be specific to your event.
Each year, we allow the Student Chapter to host a raffle at the awards banquet. They are in charge of soliciting raffle prizes and selling them at the event. Generally they get all of the prizes for free and get to take home all of the profits (usually about $1,000). We like to put a single jar out for each item so people can choose which prizes they want to win. Raffle tickets are sold for $5 each or 5 for $20. Since we started taking credit cards, the sales skyrocketed and the student made a lot more money. This is a lot of fun for everyone and really forces the students to network with the professionals at the event.