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How to Use Your Critical Thinking Skills: Program & Event Planning  – Career & Professional Development

How to Use Your Critical Thinking Skills: Program & Event Planning  – Career & Professional Development


Do you want to plan an event or program but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Planning events or programs can be challenging, and it can feel overwhelming to start the process. Luckily, we’re here to help! The information here should help you use your critical thinking skills to work through each step of the planning process so that you can put on a wonderful event! 

A really great place to start is to create a document with the POP method. POP stands for Purpose, Outcomes, and Process. Think about it this way: purpose = big dream, outcomes = sub-goals, and process = specific format. This will be a great way to keep track of what will actually go down during your event.  

Start with purpose:  

  • Who is your audience? 
  • What would be: 
    • Relevant? 
    • Valuable? 
    • Worth their time instead of watching Netflix? 
  • Why are you having this event?  
  • Why is it important?  

Then move into outcomes:  

  • What successes in this program would mean achieving that big dream? 
  • What will be different at the end? 
  • What are a few goals that you would like participants to reach by the end of the event?  
  • What should they have gained?  
  • You can use the phrase “Participants will…” 
    • Think, feel, understand 
    • Clarify, assess, decide 

Then move onto process:  

  • What needs to happen during the event to achieve these specific goals?  
  • How will you engage your participants? 
    • Virtual, in person, or hybrid 
    • Timing (and not conflicting with others) 
    • Synchronous or asynchronous 
    • Activities and prompts 
    • Preparation and follow-up 
  • List out the different things that will happen during the event from beginning to end 
    • You can even schedule out times for each part of the process 

Now that you have a good idea of what happens during the event and why it is happening, it’s time to move on to logistics. This is where your critical thinking skills can really come into play! What all needs to go down before the event for it to run smoothly and successfully? Here are some of the logistical things to help think through different pieces of preparation: 

Logistics: 

  • Marketing/Advertising 
    • Who is your audience? What media do they see and pay attention to? 
      • Social media 
      • Newsletters 
      • Direct email 
      • Collaborating with departments or student organizations 
      • Flyers  
      • Crimson Connect (student organization portal where you can post events) 
  • Communication 
    • Recap all conversations in writing 
    • Keep written communication direct and clear 
    • Ask permission for everything 
    • Bold important questions or directions 
    • Information before and/or after 
  • In-Person Planning 
    • Reserve a space (include set-up and clean-up time) 
    • Parking: permits, accessibility, price, etc. 
    • Tech Needs: microphone, speakers, projector, etc. 
    • Building Access: after hours?, door access, campus safety, etc.  
    • Accessibility 
      • Space for wheelchairs/scooters (can be found using the campus maps
      • All gender restrooms (can be found using the campus maps
      • Share materials before and/or after 
      • Readable slides  
        • Large text: presentations should be 24 point or larger 
        • Sans serif fonts: Calibri, Neue Haas Unica, Franklin Gothic Book, or Lucinda Sans 
        • Text color contrast 
  • Virtual Planning 

Finally, here are a few other resources that may be helpful during your preparation process: 

This seems like a lot of different pieces to be thinking about, but they are all important to making sure your event or program goes well! And hopefully, by laying out all the pieces in this resource, you don’t feel like you’re forgetting anything and can be well prepared. Use your critical thinking skills to work through each section and any issues you may run into. Workshop the logistics with a friend, two minds can be better than one! And they may be able to see things you don’t because of their outside perspective.  

Take a breath! Ask for help if you need it. Your event is going to be great 🙂 

By Ila Dovre Wudali

Ila Dovre Wudali


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