This how to guide will give you all the information you need to run your own events and get the most out of them. Use it as a checklist so you do not forget anything.
In this section:
Booking a venue
For small events, you can book a suitable space using the UCL room bookings. You can find a guide on booking UCL rooms on our website. For UCL rooms you can view a picture of the venue through the UCL room booking portal. We recommend booking the room 30 mins before the event is due to begin to give yourself sometime to set-up.
When booking rooms, it is important to consider accessibility. 1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability. This could be visual, hearing, motor or cognitive. Please ensure the room is wheelchair accessible and ask attendees if they have any accessibility needs before the event. They may need sign language support, bigger font size printing ... be as accommodating as you can. You can use access guides on AccessAble to check accessibility of the venue. These guides are available for almost all UCL buildings.
On campus we have two large bookable venues owned by the Union - The Print Room cafe and Mully's bar. It's best to book these at least four weeks in advance as the event will need to be approved by the venue manager. You can book either venue with this form. Please make sure you include any specific requirements such as AV equipment in the form. If you are using the Print Room, you should specify if you need the whole venue or only part of it. Sometimes more than one group are meeting in there at one time. If you have guests or performers, consider what they will need - drinking water, projector, computer...
You can also book very large UCL-owned venues, such as the Jeremy Bentham Room and the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre. These need to be booked at least six weeks in advance. The earlier the better, as the larger venues get booked up months in advance. If you want to use the Main Quad, book 10 weeks in advance.
Should you invite someone external to the event for a performance or talk, please fill in an external speaker form and send to [email protected]. An event cannot go ahead until the venue booking and the external speaker request have been approved.
Things to consider when booking a room
When making initial preparations for your event, consider the time of year when you plan on holding the event: less students will be able to come during the exam season or over the holidays. Also consider the time of day: students don’t tend to stick around on campus too late in the evening (unless they are going to one of our venues). Furthermore, some students with accessibility needs prefer not to make journeys after dark. Lastly, have a look at the What’s On page to see if there are other events on the same day that would draw attention away from yours.
You may need some additional equipment during your event. For printing off materials, you can use the printer in the Common Room on the 2nd Floor, Bloomsbury Building or in any of the libraries around campus. Information on the furniture available in each of the UCL rooms on campus can be found on the UCL room booking system. If you need the room to be arranged in a particular way you can contact the porter service through UCL estates. Details on Students' Union rooms are available on request by emailing [email protected].
- You can ask relevant student groups to help in promoting your event. Facebook groups is one of the main ways that students find out about events. Reach out to relevant groups even if you have not worked with them before
- Create a Facebook event on your club/society Facebook page. You can send co-host requests to relevant groups that you might be collaborating with.
- Add your event to the What’s On Calendar. This is a way for UCL students who might not be a part of your society yet to notice your event, especially in the first weeks of term one. You can find guidance on how to add an event on our website. Make sure you include the appropriate ‘Tags’ if the event is part of a series or has a theme shared with other events
- You can design marketing materials with free software such as Canva which can then be put up in designated area around campus.
- Reach members with regular reminders by email and social media - make sure people don’t forget that the event is coming up and give people with specific accessibility needs plenty of time to plan their journey.
Before the event
Preparation for smaller events is usually minimal. You could organise your event by yourself or together with a small team. If you are part of one of our clubs and societies, you should organise such event with the help of the rest of your committee. Otherwise, you can reach out to relevant societies and student groups and ask whether they would be interested in co-organising your event. Use the Clubs and Societies directory to find them. If you are inviting someone external in, confirm this with them early.
Preparing for a large event
Preparations for a large event need to occur well in advance. There are a few steps we recommend you taking in preparation of the event:
- Set up a meeting with Union at least two months before the event. they will agree on a plan for the event - the aims, outcomes & benefits, potential costs, catering.
- You will almost certainly need help with organising a large event. Assemble a committee/organising group, key people who will make the event happen. To work together efficiently, it is important to agree on a theme and purpose - what are your objectives? What do you want the event to achieve? Big events can be a lot of work. Make sure that organising it stays fun by having support in preparation and on the day. There may be lots of people with a specialist interest in the topic of the conference and want to develop skills like event management or public speaking.
- Create a plan of deadlines and target dates (work backwards from the date of the event) and allocate tasks to people on the committee / organising group. Some deadlines:
- If you have external speakers at your event, make sure to submit the external speaker request form four weeks in advance.
- If the Students’ Union has asked you to fill out an Additional Risk assessment, submit this four weeks in advance. A union member of staff will complete this for you but you must give clear details about the event so they can list risks effectively. This may be edited and returned before approval so four weeks allows for this.
- Should you need AV equipment, register with UCL CPS https://avcucl.siso.co/ four weeks in advance. You can also borrow some standard AV equipment from the Union.
- Make sure to create a contingency plan in case of bad weather, should your event be outside.
- Create a What’s On event with tickets and promote you event in other ways according to your promotional campaign. You can draw up a marketing timeline with a Union staff member. You can request student photographer to attend event if required.
- Should you require further furniture, email UCL estates to describe what you need - chairs, tables, presentations boards and so on.
If you are holding an event in the Main Quad with external vendors present, these will need to be approved by the Union and they will need various paperwork such as liability insurance and appliance safety certificates (if they are catering). Consider requirements of the vendors - will there be a large enough power supply in the quad? Close enough water points?
WiFi Access for External Guests
If you are running an event where guests will need access to UCLGuest WiFi, please refer to this guide on the UCL website.
During the event
During the event it is important to keep the purpose of the event in mind. If it is a social event, make people feel welcome as they may not know anyone. If the purpose of the event is to create materials - zine, still-life drawing, article content etc. let participants know how you plan to use their work so they have the option to remain anonymous.
For larger events, make sure people know where the toilets and fire escapes are and register people as they arrive to keep track of numbers. If there are any performers at your event, keep them to time should this be necessary. People assisting you with the event might not always know what is going on, so brief anyone assisting you and issue them with:
- A list of key contacts - first-aider, security, staff members if appropriate
- A map of the event so they can give directions to attendees.
Keep the event to time in case the venue staff are due to leave at a particular time.
While the event is happening, it is advisable to create promotional material that will help build momentum for next time the event might be held. Take photos of the event (with permission), consider live tweeting the event or Instagram stories. After the event is over, you can share highlights from the event on the Facebook page and other relevant social media. You can even write a blog (approx. 500 words) about it for the Union website.
After the event
Once the event has ended, there are some final steps to take. For a small event, leave the room as you found it when you came in. Leave the venue as agreed with Estates.
It is advisable to send thank you emails to attendees with summary of the event and next steps they can take if they want to get involved next time.