An event strategy is the most critical step in event organization. The strategy provides the foundation on which the rest of the event is built. You should pay careful consideration to choosing an event name, building a guest list, securing speakers, developing an interesting program schedule, determining the event format, creating a desirable atmosphere and providing a memorable guest experience.

Goals and objectives

Before beginning the planning process, it is important to clarify why you are planning an event and what you hope to achieve on behalf of SFU, your department and other stakeholders.

Questions to ask:

  • What are your goals and objectives? Is an event the best method to do this?
  • What type of event will help you accomplish your goals and objectives?
  • Which of your strategic objectives is this event supporting?
  • How does this initiative connect to SFU’s broader goals and vision?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What are your key messages?

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Determine event viability by assessing whether you have the resources, time and support to run a successful event.

Questions to ask:

  • Who will plan your event?
  • What are the event costs and who will pay for them?
  • Is there support for the event?
  • Is there another event or meeting that is already taking place that your proposed event can be added onto?
  • What will be the draw for your guests?
  • Have there been similar events held in the past? If so, what was the response?
  • Is there enough time to thoroughly plan, publicize and promote the event?

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Once you have identified clear event goals and objectives and assessed the viability of your event, use that information to develop metrics to measure the success of your event.

Common event metrics include:

  • Registration numbers
  • New vs. returning attendees
  • Gross revenue
  • Mainstream media pick-up and social media reach
  • Number of qualified donor leads
  • Attendee engagement and satisfaction
  • Post-event survey responses

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Target audience

Clearly identifying your target audience will allow you to determine your key message and event program. When developing a guest list, consider the following:

  • Who are you trying to reach to attend your event?
  • How many guests would you like to have attend? (Consider the venue capacity).
  • Who are the internal and/or external groups?

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Consider choosing an event format that will draw interest, engage your event attendees, stay within your budget and effectively deliver your key messages.

Event format ideas:

  • Breakfast meeting
  • Cocktail reception
  • Dinner gala

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  • Launch announcement
  • Awards ceremony
  • Festival
  • Panel discussion
  • Seminar/meeting
  • Performance art
  • Virtual event (meeting, webinar or conferencing platform)


We are committed to making our events as sustainable as possible and encourage all event planners to do the same. For more information on sustainability at SFU, please reach out to the SFU Sustainability Office.

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