Tips For The Graduation Event Planner: Ceremonies, Open Houses, etc.

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Graduation season is finally here. Not only will there be plenty of excitement, there will also be plenty of work. And if you’re responsible for planning events or hosting parties, you know you’ll be busy.

That’s why it’s a perfect time to explore tips to help you plan and execute great graduation events.

Get help

Let’s start will a simple idea that can have a large impact on your event (and your stress level). Here it is: you don’t have to do it all yourself. That’s right. Getting other people in on the operations could be a great help. While you may be planning and coordinating a major event, you don’t have to do every task yourself.

And keep this in mind regardless of the type of graduation event you’re working on. Some of you might be about to throw a graduation celebration barbecue in your back yard. Others could be laying the groundwork for a graduation ceremony. Still others may be prepping an award or recognition ceremony. No matter the content of your graduation event, remember that having others join in on the work could be a great help.

Minimize stress with the division of labor

As you work with others leading up to your event, think about what abilities and talents they bring to the table. Let’s say someone on your committee is a graphic designer. Then, it makes sense to ask them to help with signs, programs, and other materials. Or if a team member is a cake decorator, they might be a great person to supervise the cake-procuring process.

Assign responsibility

As people offer assistance (or agree to help after being asked), you may find it useful to specifically assign tasks. In short, make sure people know what their jobs are. That way, they can take ownership and carry the task to completion.

Break down tasks

Since a large event has a lot of parts and pieces, consider creating a task breakdown. For instance, “Plan graduate’s walk” could break down into many other tasks. It could look like this:

  • Select preferred recording of “Pomp and Circumstance” and send to audio/visual team.
  • Mark floor so graduates know where to stand.
  • Acquire diplomas.
  • Find graduation gown supplier if necessary.
  • Plan stage arrangement.
  • Plan location of graduate lineup.

Once you know the component parts of a particular event, you can assign these jobs to your helpers.

Do a trial run

Obviously, on the actual day of the event, you’d like things to go smoothly. A trial run could help you iron out any wrinkles ahead of time. You’d certainly like to know now about any problems, if possible—because at this point you can still make changes.

This could look like setting up a stage in advance and having some (or all) students walk across. Can they be seen clearly from the audience seating area? Can the audience hear the sound well? Do the students have an unobstructed path to the post-walk seating?

Get input from others

As you coordinate and plan for success, be sure to learn from others. Some people may have valuable thoughts to add. And they may also have more experience with similar situations—so why reinvent the wheel?

For instance, maybe you know a family that’s hosted numerous successful graduation parties for their kids. So, it might be a great idea to appeal to them for do’s and don’ts for hosting an enjoyable celebration.

Collect contact information

Here’s another tip to help keep the wheels moving well. Make sure you have adequate contact information. This could mean getting the cell phone number of the person who handles audio/visual equipment. (That way, if you run into a hearstopping hangup, you know who to call).

Or it could mean knowing how to reach the janitor in case you find a door unexpectedly locked. Plus, you may want to find out the best way to contact the members of your event team. Then, you’ll be able to reach out directly to any helper to ask questions or share information when necessary.

Keep calm, cool, and collected

When different people with varying opinions collaborate on an event, things can get stressful sometimes. You may be able to help others handle situations calmly by being calm yourself. You could find yourself at a point where people are disagreeing and tempers are flaring. If so, keep your own response in check. And, if possible and appropriate, try to help others deal calmly and constructively with the situation.

Get started on signs

With your graduation event just around the corner, be sure to get your signs started adequately in advance. For some events, you could want directional signs (like A-frames or lawn signs). Use them to direct graduates and guests where to find parking. Or deploy them to point out where to head next when you have a series of events in different locations.

Then, of course, you may want banners, too. Whether you’re celebrating one person or a group, a banner can help you “say it with a sign.” Plus, feather flags could be useful—maybe to mark the start of the graduate lineup.

Remember to leave enough time to design signs in addition to simply having them made. You certainly want signs that look good and get the message across. So, give yourself time to make that happen. If you don’t have a designer available, you can also check into your options for having your sign company help with the design.

Don’t charge in blindly

And if you haven’t done so already, take a moment to sit down and think things through from a big-picture perspective. Grab a piece of paper and take stock of the different elements of a successful event. Writing it down and mulling it over may help you ensure you’ve covered all your bases. And for a few more event planning thoughts, head to The Ultimate Guide To Event Planning And Advertising.

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