Defining the scope of your event allows you to lay the foundation for all of the decisions you will make during the event planning process. Once your purpose, goals, and audience are identified you can reflect back throughout your planning process to make sure you are being strategic about the purpose of your event.
Event Planning Guide
Events can serve as the front door to Dixie
State University and add a personal touch
to our brand. A well-organized event is an
effective tool to directly communicate with
your target audience in a fun, engaging, and
unique way. The following guidelines should
be used to help you create a successful and
purposeful event and put your best foot
forward when representing our institution.
Define Your Goals
Each event needs to have measurable goals and assessable outcomes, including determining the value of the event to the University. This will help you to identify your target audience — i.e. donors, community members, staff and faculty, students, legislators, alumni — and determine the message or theme for the event as well as create focused goals. You will also need to decide how you plan to accomplish these goals. Ask yourself:
Why are you organizing this event?What are you trying to say to your audience?
Who are the primary attendees?
What type of event are you hosting?
Who else should be in attendance in addition to your target group?
How will you know if you accomplished your goal(s)?
Identify Event Type
After you’ve determined and event is appropriate and laid out the event goals, you then need to identify the type of event you are planning. Some types of events may overlap. The events must be consistent with the University’s mission and must relate directly to the goals of the sponsoring department or organization.
An academic-related activity that is NOT included in the established curriculum of quarterly classes listed (e.g., special guest lecture series, panel discussion)
An administrative event, including a daily, weekly or occasional gathering and/or meeting by an official department or registered group, (e.g., a department faculty meeting, gathering of department staff, a student group meeting). The focus of these meetings is generally to discuss department or group business and/or conduct administrative planning. It may also include professional training. These gatherings may also be social in nature (e.g., department luncheon, picnic, reception or holiday party).
An event only open to DSU students, faculty and staff — this may also qualify as a high-impact, invitation-only, administrative, or academic-related event
An event open to DSU students, faculty, staff, and members of the public — a public event can also be considered an academic-related event and/or a high-impact event
An event only open to invited guests (e.g., university donor or alumni events, administrative or special-program events)
Determine Event Impact
Determine the level of influence your event will have on the University as a whole. Will this event effect multiple offices and organizations across campus or only your department? It is important to identify your impact level as it will help you determine event logistics.
This event effects the University as a whole. It is large in scope and generally requires eight or more coordination points, such as Guest services, Parking, Risk Management, Campus Dining, Production, a print company, University Marketing & Communication, development, etc. The event will need to be reviewed by several university departments and organizations, such as Event Overview Committee, Event Services and Risk Management, and University Events, members of cabinet, etc..
This event effects a college organization, or division. It generally requires at least four coordination points, such as Guest Services, your college, Parking, Risk Management, Campus Dining, Production, 4 imprint, etc. This event may need to be reviewed by university departments and organizations, such as Event Overview Committee, Event Services and Risk Management, and University Events, members of cabinet, etc..
This event effects a department or office. It generally requires three or fewer coordination points, such as Guest Services, Parking, and Campus Dining. These events typically do not need to be reviewed by anyone outside of your office or department.
Invite Appropriate Administrators
Look at who your audience is and determine if it is necessary to include members of the administration in your invitation. A good rule of thumb is to invite the next person up the chain from your event approver. For example, if your department chair is the one approving the event, then the college dean should be invited to attend. However, each event is unique and invitations should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, consider inviting spouses and or significant others when it is appropriate.
President and first lady
Board of Trustees and spouses
Cabinet and spouses
University Council and spouses
President and first lady (at times)
Area vice president and spouse
Dean/Assistant vice president
Area vice president
Dean/Assistant vice president
The key to a successful event is solidifying the important details you and your participants will need to know. Selecting your event coordinator, date, venue, and budget are critical pieces to determining how your event will flow.
Designate an Event Coordinator
Identify who will be responsible for coordinating your event. This person will be responsible for scheduling, planning, ordering, and disseminating information to all parties involved. This person should be identified early on and will be the contact regarding the event. Characteristics to look for in a quality event coordinator include:
Attentive to detail
Choose a Date
Review various calendars to choose the best date for your event. Calendar links can be found at umac.dixie.edu/events. Make sure you reach out to key event participants to see what dates they are available before scheduling.
Check the Campus Planning Calendar, which is managed by the University Events department. This calendar provides a list of major campus events that are tentatively planned for the upcoming year. This ensures your event does not conflict with a high-impact event.
Reserve a Venue
Venue selection depends on several factors, but is key to creating the correct atmosphere for your attendees. Booking your venue early helps ensure you are able to best accommodate your guests. All on-campus venues need to be scheduled through DSU Central Scheduling.
When selecting a venue:
Consider what type of event you are organizing. Are there production needs? Is it a luncheon or a meeting? Will there be aspects that require you to be outside or need multiple rooms? The type of event you are hosting can dictate what spaces are best for your event.
Look at your expected number of guests to determine what size/capacity of room you need.
Think of your target audience. Certain audiences may have different needs, for example increased ADA seating, additional restrooms, indoor venues, etc.
Consider the time of year — the season can determine what type of venue to reserve.*
Look for unique and creative spaces to hold your event.
Consider other events being held within the same facility at the same time.
Create a Budget
Creating an event budget is an essential part of planning an event. It is critical to be a good steward of University resources. Creating an organized and detailed event budget can help outline your event needs.
1. Creating your budget document
Use a spreadsheet or Google Sheet to create and track your budget. See sample Budget Sheet in the Resources section.
Add a line item for every detail
Include payment deadlines and deposit information
Add budget amounts and actual costs to ensure you don’t go over budget
2. Researching event costs
Look into past events
Reach out to departments you will need to make arrangements with for your event, for example Campus Security, Guest Services, and Campus Dining
Reach out to vendors you may need to work with for SWAG, printing, décor, etc.
3. Determining possible budget line items
4. Plan for incidentals
Build in some padding for unexpected costs — 15% is a general rule of thumb
Understand your variable costs
Plan for worst-case scenarios
All events held outdoors need an indoor back-up location or designated plan for inclement weather.
The University wants every event to be safe and successful. To assist you in accomplishing this goal various policies and protocols are necessary. By becoming familiar with these key pieces of information you will ensure you have a smooth planning process and your attendees have a safe and positive experience while on campus.
Several University policies directly impact the organization and planning of events. Below is a list of policies to be familiar with prior to planning an event on campus.
132: Campus Safety and Security
135: Government Relations
142: Video Taping of Events
144: University Awards, Recognitions, and Gifts
158: Alcohol Beverages for on and/or off Campus Events, Ceremonies, Receptions, Fundraisers, and/or Private Events
203: University Business Practices
221: University Procurement
222: Purchasing Cards
223: Travel, Meals, Entertainment, and Relocation
241: Dining Services
401: Emergency Management
421: Campus Parking and Transportation
441: Central Scheduling of Campus Facilities and Events
447: Centralized Ticketing
Special Guest Protocols
Inviting special guests to your event is exciting and helps to elevate your event to the next level. However, special considerations need to be made when extending these invitations. If special guests attend your event, it is best practice to recognize and thank them for attending at the beginning of the event or function.
Inviting the University President
When inviting the President to participate in an event, his/her role and responsibilities need to be clearly identified and planned out, with specific purpose in mind. Please first obtain pre-approval from your dean or vice president.
Once approved, please Request the Attendance of the President by filling out the request form.
Please submit your request as early as possible, preferably 8-10 weeks prior to your event. For requests less than 30 days in advance, please contact the assistant to the President at 435.652.7502.
Please be aware that changes to your event, such as the start/end time, venue, speakers, etc., may impact the President’s availability. If you have changes, please call 435.652.7502.
Please make sure that you recognize the President and his/her spouse if they attend your event. All trustees, vice presidents, and cabinet members should also be recognized.
Once you have received confirmation of the President’s attendance, you will be asked to supply the following materials at least 14 days prior to the event. Please send materials via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annotated guest list
Seating chart and room layout
If the President or President’s spouse are noted on the invitation, the Office of the President must approve the final design before going to print.
Inviting Members of the Board of Trustees
When inviting the trustees to participate in or attend an event, please first obtain pre-approval from your dean or vice president and the Office of the President. These requests can be made by contacting the assistant to the President at 435.652.7502.
If the trustees and/or their spouse attend, please formally recognize them at the event.
If inviting donors or potential donors to your event, please contact the development office prior to sending invitations.
The visit of a dignitary to the DSU campus is a great opportunity for students, faculty and staff to engage with an important local, national, or international figure. It may also demand a heightened sensitivity to security and/or protocol issues; attract a large audience; require coordination with state and federal officials and agencies; and require intense logistical coordination. Visits by certain dignitaries may require the commitment of DSU resources far beyond the authority of the person, unit, or entity arranging for the visit. DSU has an institutional interest in ensuring that visits by dignitaries are successful, both in terms of how the dignitary is treated, as well as in ensuring that the dignitary’s visit provides the broadest possible benefit to our community.
Point of contact for dignitary visits
The Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations is the designated campus coordination point for all events involving a national or international dignitary.
Utah elected officials
Dixie State departments and colleges are welcome to invite Utah’s Governor, first spouse, members of the Congressional delegation, other state-elected officials, and Utah legislators to events on campus. These dignitaries are frequently invited to Dixie State, so to avoid multiple, conflicting invitations, the Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations should be contacted before the invitation is issued.
National and international dignitaries
High-Level Dignitaries – A high-level dignitary is defined as any of the following:
Heads-of-state or government
High-ranking members of royalty
U.S. or foreign first spouses
Former heads-of-state or government
Sitting United States Cabinet members
High-ranking representatives of foreign governments, including ambassadors, foreign ministers, and consuls general
Current and former United Nations secretaries general
U.S. senators and representatives
High-profile individuals who may generate substantial media attention and a large audience
Rules of protocol require that the President of the University reserves the right to extend invitations to any dignitary or sitting heads of state or government official. In all dignitary visits, the Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations will consult with the Office of the President to determine the President’s involvement, coordinate the President’s participation as needed, ensure all protocols are followed, and assist in notifying campus departments that may be affected by these events.
When an opportunity arises to invite a high-level dignitary to visit Dixie State University:
A faculty member should consult his/her department chair, dean or director, and the vice president for Academic Affairs
Staff should consult his/her manager or director, associate vice president, or vice president
Student organizations should consult with the vice president for Student Affairs.
The requesting department will be responsible for ensuring that the invitation request is directed to the Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations in advance of an invitation being issued. These offices will coordinate with the Office of the President regarding the possibility of an invitation being issued and advise the inviting organization.
After advising the Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations, the person in the inviting department should consult widely with other departments at the University who may be interested in assisting and/or required to participate in the visit. This includes University Marketing and Communications, Campus Security, academic areas with related interests, the Alumni Association, and Student Affairs departments such as International Students Services, Multicultural and Inclusion Center, and Dixie State University Student Association.
Hosting a high-profile dignitary at your event often involves sensitive and heightened diplomatic and security measures involving additional costs. The department hosting the event is responsible for the costs incurred during the visit. Ensure that you have adequate funding to host the special event(s) surrounding the dignitary’s visit, including security costs, transportation, receptions, lunches, dinners, and gifts.
For international dignitary visits, it is appropriate that a gift be presented on behalf of the University in appreciation for the visit or to promote goodwill. It is the responsibility of the hosting department to purchase a gift that can be presented by the President and coordinate with other areas of the University that may wish to present a gift on behalf of their department. This will ensure that appropriate levels of gifts are given and duplicates are avoided. The gift must be approved by the Office of the President prior to the purchase of the gift.
There are several university resources available to you. Organizing an event on campus allows you access to several services all located in one place. It is important to make arrangements early to allow for appropriate planning and budgeting. Services that need to be contacted vary by event type. Follow the event planning timeline, which can be found in the Resources section of this guide, to help you identify who and when to contact the services you need.
Timelines & Schedules
The event timeline is a schedule that lists the various tasks, notes, requirements, staff assignments, deadlines, etc., that need to take place prior to the day of the event. For a large-impact event, your timeline will likely cover a span of six months to a year prior to the event. You may also need to create a separate timeline just for your printed materials such as the save-the-date, invitation, program, ticketing, etc.
Event Timeline: The event timeline outlines the month-to-month, week-to-week, and day-to-day tasks to accomplish for the event. It covers the entire event planning process from start to finish.
Printed Materials Timeline: The printed materials timeline outlines the deadlines pertaining to the design, printing, and mailing of printed materials.
Event Schedule: The event schedule outlines the different event components based on date, time, and location.
Program Schedule: The program schedule outlines the different individuals and components that make up the spoken or performed program based on the date and time of day. The program should be planned with a time limit in mind. Time for each part of the program should be allocated. An event that goes too long is never successful.
Production Schedule: The production schedule details everything from setup to tasks that need to be completed prior to and during the event. Schedule items are categorized by date and time.
Event Services & Risk Management
This office supports the University by producing quality, centralized academic and event scheduling, guest services, event production, ticketing, parking management, risk management, and safety excellence. Contact information and details about the following areas can be found at dixie.edu/event-services-risk-management/
Central Scheduling: Central Scheduling’s knowledgeable and experienced personnel are eager to assist you with your scheduling needs. They will help you with general availability, proper space utilization, answer procedure questions, and guide you to other DSU department services and authorities. Central Scheduling provides user-friendly technology and collaborative coordination with University organizations and the community for the best use of facilities. This includes making sure University policy and procedure requirements are accomplished.
Production: Event Production provides audio and visual support to events and activities to increase artistic and educational excellence within the campus community. Take advantage of their vast array of professional services offered, including production, stage design, equipment installation, audio/visual media, entertainment technology, and staffing. Certain event fees may apply.
Guest Services: Guest Services coordinates and hosts events for the DSU community, including basic setup and take down of tables, chairs, stages, and audio/visual equipment. The Guest Services staff also manages the Gardner Center including budget, maintenance, and custodial services. Certain event fees may apply.
Ticket Office: The Ticket Office provides affordable and quality ticketing services, house management, and ushering. Certain event fees may apply.
Parking Management: The Parking Management team is committed to providing adequate, convenient, and safe parking access for all students, employees, and visitors. The team oversees parking management, mapping, and enforcement.
Risk Management & Safety: Risk Management & Safety provides a safe and healthy environment in which the University community can learn, work, and create. This includes providing risk analysis, reviewing and approving certificates of insurance, and assisting with health and safety compliance. In addition, this team administers fire code evaluation, interpretation, permitting (flame artesian, pyrotechnics, special effects, etc.), and enforcement.
DSU’s Dining Services provides a wide variety of catering options, from box lunches to full, formal meals. Once you have reserved and confirmed a location for your event, the Dining Services office can take your food requests at (435) 652-7676 or email@example.com. After receiving your request, Dining Services will be happy to email menu options to you. Food orders should be placed as early as possible but at least two weeks prior to your event to provide time for Dining Services to put the order together, email a proposal to you, adjust the menu and details, confirm the event, order food from vendors, and schedule the appropriate staff. Although your event might seem simple or small, it takes time and coordination to work it into the overall production schedule. A final guest count is due to the Dining Services office three business days prior to the event.
DSU’s Facility Management team makes sure campus facilities and surrounding landscapes are in optimal shape for your event. They are dedicated to providing a safe, clean, attractive, and friendly environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Facility Management services include:
Custodial: The Custodial staff ensures that you’ll have well-kept restrooms, plenty of trash receptacles, and an overall clean area for your event.
Grounds: DSU’s Grounds department maintains the University’s beautiful campus that serves as a quality venue for many events. The department provides upkeep for the sprinkler system and consistent landscape care as well as load-in and load-out services on fields/grass if needed.
Facility Operations: The Facility Operations team handles any issues with plumbing, electricity, or room temperatures that may arise. They are your go-to for a quick resolution.
Dixie State University Campus Security provides personal and physical security for all events or gatherings that occur on University-owned property. Police presence is required for most events, according to the minimum staffing levels detailed in the Special Events matrix. A request for police presence must be made a minimum of two weeks before your event occurs. DSU policy dictates the chief of police has final determination regarding approved police staffing for any DSU event. A Special Events Operations Plan will be created and given to the event planner two days prior to the event taking place. Police services are billed to the event planner at the rate of $50.00 per hour, per officer requested. To schedule police coverage for a special event, call the DSU Campus Security office at 435-652-7515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marketing & Communication
The University Marketing & Communication office is dedicated to promoting and protecting the Dixie State University brand, and events are a powerful way of doing this. DSU hosts hundreds of events annually, and although UMAC can provide support for these events, it is not the responsibility of UMAC to ensure attendance goals are met or create major marketing plans for each and every event. However, UMAC offers great resources to help with a variety of event needs. Below are a few of the services that can be requested through UMAC to help achieve your event goals.
Design — The UMAC Creative & Visual Services team can help transform your ideas into a strong visual identity that authentically and effectively represents your event. Creating everything from print and digital invitations and posters to programs and event signage, UMAC will employ the full power of the brand while incorporating the strengths of your area to create powerful design concepts. Please allow 10 days for design and 10 days for printing.
Public relations/media relations: Dixie State University is trailblazing new frontiers every day, and the UMAC PR team employs various strategies to share about your event with audiences around the globe. The PR team can help with everything from press releases and media advisories that invite the public and reporters to your event to follow-up articles that detail what took place. All public relations support is free of charge for DSU staff and faculty. Please allow a minimum of 15 business days in order to properly inform media.
Photography/videography: The UMAC photographers and videographers can capture your event’s moments that best tell your story. Simple yet powerful visual content can be the most effective way to connect with your audience, preserve memories for your attendees and the community, and promote future events.
Rentals and SWAG: To help you create the perfect ambiance for your event, UMAC offers DSU-branded tablecloths and runners, banners, pop-up tents, materials for centerpieces, and other items available for rent. Plus, offering event attendees a small takeaway gift is a great way to leave a lasting impression of DSU, so UMAC has small quantities of DSU-branded SWAG items available at cost.
Social media: UMAC is available to help create effective strategies and consistent messaging before, during, and after your event. Whether you need support with your department’s accounts, have an idea for DSU’s official presence on social media, or want to submit a blog post to the Blazer Bulletin, UMAC’s social media team is here to help.
The earlier you contact those who are involved, the easier it is to fine tune everything down the road. Remember your lack of planning is not someone else’s emergency. Make arrangements early.
A well thought-out and highly organized program is essential to getting your message across to your audience. Reflect back on your event scope to properly structure your program for the evening.
Selecting your performers/presenters is the pinnacle of your event. People may not always remember what was said, but they will remember how they felt. Your presenters need to be able to deliver the key messages in a way that captivates your audience and impresses upon them the importance of why they are there. A boring or long presentation can negatively impact a perfectly organized event. Potential presenter roles include:
Emcee/Master of Ceremonies/Host: This person guides the audience through the event. This should be a dynamic person who can add energy to the group, read a room, and think on their feet. This person typically is the first and last to speak and sets the overall tone of the event.
Welcome: This speaker is typically someone from the administration or sponsoring organization. They welcome the audience to the event on behalf of the University or organization. This can be done by the emcee if it is decided a formal welcome is not needed.
Keynote: The keynote is the main speaker/presenter for the event. This does not mean they need to give a PowerPoint presentation or a formal speech. This can be the person(s) presenting the award(s) or delivering important or exciting news. Assess your target audience and key messages to help determine the best person to serve in this role.
Scripting your event ensures your program flows smoothly, maintains organization, and keeps your messaging on target while helping you stay in your allotted time frame. A detailed script serves as the information center for speakers and production crews. To create an effective script:
Use the event’s purpose, target audience, and key messages as the framework of the script.
Write the script in chronological order.
Add cues for action items such as when people should enter and exit the stage, give awards, play videos, etc.
Add videos, performances, and/or creative activities to add energy to the flow and break up a continuous line of speakers.
Recognize all University officials and dignitaries at the beginning of the event. This includes, but is not limited to, the president and first lady, members of the Board of Trustees, members of President’s Cabinet, deans, and public officials.
Collect speaker bios and other information early and edit them to an appropriate length. Please note that bios in the script should take 30 to 45 seconds to read to avoid losing the audience’s attention; a longer, full-length bio can be printed in the program for attendees to peruse during down times.
Add expressions of thanks, gift presentations, and important recognitions in addition to identifying who is best to make these presentations.
Include helpful markers for your speakers like “pause for applause” or “lead applause.”
Brief Speakers and Presenters
Two weeks prior to the event, provide briefing materials to the event presenters to give them adequate time to prepare and resolve any last-minute questions. Include any pertinent information such as:
Event fact sheet that includes the event name, date, time, location, goals, format, and contact information for all those involved
A description of each participant’s role at the event, arrival time, and dress code
Guest list and seating charts
Biographies of key participants
Script/Run of Show (a chronological list of the program’s components — welcome, greetings, introductions, videos, speakers, presentations, awards, etc., and the total program run time)
Conducting the Program
Proper planning and communication of your event program will ensure your presenters feel confident and comfortable while in front of your audience. Make sure you are prepared for last minute changes and adjustments to your script.
Do a dress rehearsal or walk-through with all participants prior to the start of the event
Identify all dignitaries who have arrived and need to be recognized
Stick to time limits and event layout
Event marketing is an essential step to reaching your audience and inviting your attendees. Creating an event marketing plan that is tailored to your audience will help you promote your message and achieve your goals.
Now that you’ve planned your event, it’s important to structure how best to promote it. The first thing you need to do is to identify your promotional or marketing goals.
Are you trying to fill the seats?
Who is your target audience/market
Do you want to bring attention to a particular issue or initiative, even after the event is over?
Do you want to deliver a particular, timely message?
Once you review your goal(s), you can decide how to best utilize the following marketing options:
Create printed material
When creating a design theme for your event, be sure to use a consistent style for all printed pieces, from the save-the-date cards and invitations to programs and signage.
Include the who, what, when, where, why, and cost of attending
Prominently feature the DSU logo to clearly designate the event as originating from Dixie State University and follow DSU’s branding standards
Don’t use more than four font sizes or two font styles
Do not use abbreviations — spell out all words
Information to include on formal invitations:
Name of host
Invitational wording (“requests the pleasure of your company,” “cordially invites you to …”)
Event type/name/purpose (luncheon, dinner, reception, lecture)
Reply instructions (reply card, phone number, date by which to reply)
Disabled instructions (fax, email)
Attire instructions (casual, business, formal)
Signage is used to welcome attendees, direct your guest to the appropriate venue(s), and keep them apprised of what is going on. Create signage that is consistent with your other marketing materials so attendees are able to easily identify information that belongs with your event. Options to consider include:
With proper planning, the day of the event can run smoothly. It is important to allow plenty of time for setup and to properly assign roles and responsibilities, leaving the event organizer free to troubleshoot any last-minute needs.
What to do on Event Day
Bring the logistical outline, production schedule, instructions, directions, banquet orders, rental orders, seating charts, name tags, table assignments, and guest lists
Bring all necessary event supplies
Bring your contact sheet with names, department/vendor, and cell phone numbers
Check all facilities including restrooms and grounds
Set up the venue with place cards, signs, favors, awards, etc.
Conduct sound and equipment checks
Place printed programs
Confirm venue/stage setup
Place water for speakers at lectern
Place flags or reserved signs on chairs
Check for obstructed views
Check rental order for proper placement of all rentals and décor
Make sure all audiovisual cords and wires are taped down
Check for pedestrian hazards (water on floor, loose carpeting, etc.)
Brief your volunteers
Greet your key guests, program participants, and host
Set up registration so that it is ready no later than 30 minutes prior to the start of your event
Follow your production schedule
Memorize DSU Public Safety’s dispatch number — 435.627.4300
Relax and smile
Once the event is over, remember the event is not actually over. It is important to follow up on goals, pay vendors, send surveys to attendees, and assess the event overall.
Evaluating the Event
Your post event evaluation is a way for you to look back and assess the planning process, the actual event, and your overall return on investment.
Look back at the event goals to determine if they were met
Assess if the key messages and purpose were clearly conveyed to the audience
Determine if the event was smooth logistically — note what worked and what didn’t work, and how it could be improved
Get feedback from guests and vendors on their experience at the event
Saying Thank You
Send thank-you cards or emails to sponsors, event staff, special guests, and those who helped to ensure the event was a success.
Events are exciting, and planning an event should be a fun experience. As you plan your event, place yourself in the shoes of each role for your event. As an attendee, what would you want? What would make checking in easy? Do you want more than one food option for dinner? As a speaker, would you want a bottle of water while up on stage? Would a timer on the podium be beneficial for you? What about a padded chair instead of a hard chair? Think about the event through other people’s points of view and you will create a positive experience for not only your guests, but for everyone involved.