Making it Happen

Recruiting Exhibitors

It is critical to contact potential exhibitors at least 3 to 6 months before the event so they can block off their schedules. If you are planning a kickoff event, you may want to secure a keynote speaker too.

You will need to find out if exhibitors have any special needs - equipment, electrical outlets, extra space, etc. One way to get this information is to include a form in your confirmation letter or email for them to fill out and return. It is also important to get, in writing, the details about your and their expectations about their role in the event.

Send exhibitors who accept your request a confirmation letter or email with the date of the event, time they should arrive, and how long they should plan to stay. You might offer them the opportunity to set up the day before. Then send a reminder, with directions, parking, lunch arrangements, etc., about 4 weeks before the event, and perhaps again 1 week before.

Manage logistics

Logistics refers to the myriad details involved in such a complex undertaking. The content for this category is presented in the Timeline and Checklist for Planning a Health Awareness Day. Just be aware of the need for a system for tracking and checking off the completion of the many tasks.

Promoting the event

No matter how well everything else is done, the event can only succeed if the word gets to the target audience in a timely manner and in a way they will respond to. You must run an effective promotional campaign. This is a task for your event committee. Following are some steps in the process:

  • Have the committee brainstorm about the best methods or media for getting the message out. (See below for examples.)
  • Develop the materials, employing additional paid or volunteer help as needed.
  • Create an event logo and tag line to go with your theme, and include these on all materials to maintain a consistent look.
  • Include highlights of the planned event in your communications to pique people's interest; for example, descriptions of activities, exhibitors, giveaways, and prizes.
  • Create a schedule for these communications to go out. To be most effective, send the message repeatedly, over an extended time period, in different media.
  • Enlist senior managers to help get the word out.

Following are some methods to consider for getting your message across to the target audience:

  • Email announcements
  • Posters in prominent locations
  • Paycheck stuffers or home-mailers
  • The home page of your intranet site
  • Articles in your newsletter
  • Announcements in staff meetings and town hall meetings
  • Broadcast voice mail messages

Managing the big day

Committee Chair:

The role of the committee chair (or other designated person in charge) on the day of the event is to:

  • Arrive as early as necessary so that setup can be completed 1 hour before opening time, or even better, set up the day before.
  • Oversee the setup process. Direct and instruct volunteers.
  • Have a backup plan in case an exhibitor cancels or doesn't show up, materials don't arrive, etc.
  • Make sure everything is safe - cords are taped down, exit doors are not blocked, etc.
  • Act as master or mistress of ceremonies, or delegate the role, if doing a kickoff event.
  • Walk around and monitor activities during the event, tend to any unmet needs, and problem solve as needed.
  • Make notes of anything you would change next time.
  • Collect evaluations (if done on-site).
  • Supervise cleanup and disassembly.
  • Debrief volunteers and committee members to get their feedback for future events.

Volunteers:

Volunteer duties which will need to be assigned and supervised include:

  • Assist with decorations.
  • Assist in unloading and carrying in equipment (you may need a dolly or hand truck).
  • Set up tables or booths and designate with exhibitors' names.
  • Make name tags for exhibitors, volunteers, and committee members.
  • Greet exhibitors, orient them, and show them to their space.
  • Greet participants and answer any questions.
  • Arrange refreshments and/or lunches and replenish when necessary.
  • Take pictures of the event.
  • Be a floater who walks around making sure everyone is OK, fills in if someone needs a break, solves problems, etc.
  • Clean up and disassemble things after the event.