Organising a public engagement event

LectureThis toolkit is for University staff and students who are looking to organise a single or small scale public engagement event

The page covers:

  • Questions to consider before organising an event
  • Practical issues to consider
  • How to produce an event plan


Before organising an event

Before you start planning your public engagement event, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Why do you want to hold a public engagement event? What’s the objective and what are you hoping to achieve?
  • Think about a hook to get the audience interested in your research and your event. Why will they want to come?
  • Do you have a target audience? Make the communications about your event enticing and show the audience what is on offer.
  • What is the most effective way of getting your message across? For example, a lecture or an exhibition?
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • How will you engage with the audience? Try to involve the public in your event rather than simply disseminating your research.
  • Tell your story in a way that is likely to appeal to a wide audience.
  • You may have to hold your event off campus to broaden its appeal.
  • Who do you need to invite and how many?
  • Where will you hold your event and when? Does the venue capacity meet the numbers invited?
  • How are you going to invite them? What method of communication works best for your audience? Letter, telephone, email?
  • How will you measure the events success?
  • What is the budget?
  • Who is project managing the event?
  • What are the tasks (pre-event, on the day and post event) and who is going to do them and by when? Set up the task list before you start – is it achievable?

Practical issues to consider

  • Will the event need staffing? You may want to appoint staff or volunteers to usher, manage audience numbers or deal with queries
  • Produce a contingency plan for issues such as bad weather or last minute cancellations
  • Consider health and safety and whether you need to conduct risk assessments (see our toolkit for risk assessments here)
  • You will need to seek permissions (and possibly pay a fee) to use non-university and public spaces.

Producing an event plan

When you have decided on the kind of event you want to hold, you will need to produce a comprehensive plan covering the period before, during and after the event.

Download our event planner template to get started.