If in doubt, write it down.

The last months have been quite slow here on the blog, as summers at university usually are.

This post is not an elaborate story like the last one, but rather little tip that is very easy to incorporate in the planning of any event: If in doubt, write it down. Make the information people would need to attend easily accessible. Keep the basics it one place, if at all possible.

We attended some events lately, and we noticed a rather common issue: It is utterly confusing to people if the attendance fee (no matter if there actually is one) or the registration procedure are not mentioned anywhere. We also know that these pieces of information can be easy to miss. For the organisers, it might seem obvious that if you don’t list a fee for an event, attendance is free – or that everyone can join spontaneously if there is no prompt to register in advance. Maybe a big event only lists fees (or formal requirements) for some activities, so people can figure out that everything else is free?

This might be a marketing issue more than anything: Not making clear what people can expect drives potential guests away. People don’t want to invest the effort and figure out the organisers’ system. Some people just don’t want to show up to an event spontaneously without knowing for sure it’s okay to do so. Some people might not be willing or able to pay an unexpected fee upon arriving.

Let people know what to expect when they arrive – and what is expected of them. Actively ask yourself what you would like to know if you were to attend your own event (and, if applicable, details about individual activities that are part of it) and if you provide all these details in an easily accessible format.

Screen shot showing the ticket landing page of a film festival with detailled information about the various tickets (and combinations thereof) you can buy.

This film festival is a great example for communication done right:
They have a ticket landing page giving a detailed overview of all events that are part of the festival, the types of tickets available and how/where to purchase them. (Screenshot from /slash)

Often details such as the location are not yet set when an event is announced. Everyone will understand if you just tell them – a one liner informing them that further details will be added when they are known is usually sufficient. If you add those missing bits of information later on, it’s a good idea to announce them through social media. But make sure to go back and add them to your event website, event page and FAQ as well!

When organising Changing Worlds, we repeatedly stumbled over bits of information that were completely self-explanatory for the people behind the scenes – but not for everyone else (Everyone not organising it wants to know when and where an event will be without clicking around on the website!). We know it can be really challenging to take a step back, to try and not assume one’s own knowledges line up with what potential attendees might know. But making these bits and pieces widely available and easily accessible will make for an event that is easier to navigate for everyone, so it is absolutely worth it.

And, just like most thoughts we have been posting so far: While fees and registration deadlines are a crucial thing to know for many people, the basic idea behind this example holds true for many tiny bits of information that tend to emerge in the process of organising an event. It is always a good idea to get a pair of fresh eyes in once in a while – and try to not-know what the organisers know before publishing general information about an event.

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