This guide will advise to about basic considerations in creating a larger event – eg. a conference or perhaps another type of physical meeting – to promote self-care locally or nationally.

Such an event can of course bring you closer to your target audience, but can often also be used to allow other media to help you tell the central messages that you would like to promote.

An event requires planning – not years, but certainly often months, if it is to succeed. So patience and cooperation are to key words in creating events.

1. What and when?
Perhaps you’ve attended other events about self-care before. Did you like them? Were they useful to you or your target audience? Why/Why not? Considering useful formats and experiences can help you plan and execute your own.

In our catalogue of tools here you can find examples of other self-care events.

You should answer (at least) the following;

  • WHO;
  • Who would I like to adress? And who would I like to come? Do they attend/follow similar? Which of these are popular – and do you know why?

  • WHAT;
  • Your key messages? Your “gift” to the participants? Aside from “a cup of coffee” what will attending help them do/think? What is your – specific – idea of an activity or line of speakers? Do these require a longer planning period? Or have challenging calendar?

  • WHEN;
  • Day time, afternoon, morning – local or central? What hours and geography might benefit the event?

Creating just a single page of notes AND a preliminary dummy of your programme/invitation can help you greatly in getting others to understand your intent and gather early support.

Look at the guidelines on the five minor ailments to see more about self-care acts and consider if you would like to promote self-care in general (in a political, practical, or perhaps philosophical way – or other). Or which self-care act or ailment you would like to focus on.

Read more about the five minor ailments of the PiSCE-project here – and read more information about establishing purpose and goals here.

2. Budget/Partnerships
Getting people to attend is one thing – having a place for them to come is even more important. So consider your budget for people/activity, venue, communication tools, and perhaps catering – do you have any? Should/could you have the event be financed by partipant fees? Or via partnerships/sponsors? Or look for support from foundations?

The two latter both require additional planning – the first can be a challenge depending on your target audience. But perhaps a partner organisation has a venue you can use for free? Preferably with useful transportation options. Perhaps you can consider community centres, public libraries, or scientific institutions? These might be interested in collaboration about the programme and funding catering also?

A good budget gives you many more options to easily design your event – but if you look at your event as a jigsaw puzzle, perhaps quite different pieces can be put together to create a wonderful picture?

But to try to create an overview think;

  • How many am I hoping to get to attend? And where can they go? Be specific – and try to research venues in different categories to support this.
  • How long should/can it last – and how are participants going to get there? Be realistic – travel times has to be added to the time of the event itself, so having people travel four hours for 30 minutes of event (and four hours back) might not be feasible.
  • What does the event require in terms of catering, speaker fees, travel subsidies etc.? Spending money may be nice if you have them – but spending them wisely is important.

A preliminary budget will help you assess your options – and need for partnerships/funding. Don’t be discouraged if the numbers don’t add up – be creative and see how alternatives might reduce expenses or increase budget, – e.g. by spreading risk/burdens.

3. Talk to partners/networks
Are they planning similar – do their plans conflict with yours? Are there other big events that conflict with yours? Can their websites, newsletters, or social media might be used to promote your event? Would they perhaps like to be a part of your programme/attend? Would you like them to?

Even with the best of intentions and good planning, getting people to participate in your event will only happen if they know it exist! So establishing how to get the date and messages communicated to your network (the earlier the better) is vital for your success.

4. Should you adjust programme/date/timing?
Depending on your research in your network/potential partners you should consider how this might be used to optimise your programme/activity.

And certainly at this point (if not before) you should also consider how your information about the event correspond with the health literacy of the intended participants. Read more about health literacy here.

5. Spread the word
Have you created a wonderful event? Good – now comes the hard part; getting people to attend. Your event is (however nice it may be) competing with other events, work, family, other interests, budget, stress, and a lot of other factors – if you’ve created a website remember to post it there.

How are people to sign up? By mail, website, phone call – make it easy on them and you to register participants if you are aiming for a conference or seminar. If you are creating a more public event, trying to ascertain either a large or small turnout is more than helpful for your communication and effect. But reminding people of the reminder to the good, relevant invitation sent well in advance is often necessary.

6. Execute – or not?
Be prepared to take hard decisions – respect your speakers and participants; if attendance is low you should act, possibly postpone. This need not mean you cannot try again – but perhaps you should reconsider partners/channels, or timing.

If all is well, good luck on a succesfull execution – remember to take pictures and save presentations (ask permission) for later distribution.

7. Then what? – Effect/Evaluation
Following your event, evaluation both the event itself and the effects it may have had should both be undertaken.

Hopefully this is not the last time you are to plan such an event – but what did you learn? Earlier planning, different partner, larger budget, fewer participants, longer/shorter programme – try to think each point through to increase your chances of continued success.

Read more about evaluation here.