How to Plan a Successful Event

10 Steps to planning a successful event

Planning an event for your Mason department or Registered Student Organizations in one our three Student Centers buildings? It can seem overwhelming and complicated, so we’ve outlined 10 easy steps to guide you through the process.

Event Services – How to Plan a Successful Event

Start By Thinking about the following questions:
    • What is the purpose of this event?
    • What do you want to accomplish?
    • What do you want people to remember about this experience?
Have the following answers ready before moving to step 2:
  1. What type of event are you looking to host? (For example: meeting, lecture, workshop, live performance, banquet)
  2. What is your preferred date, time, and location?
        • Is this a recurring or one-time event?
        • When will your event start? When will your event end? When will you open doors for your attendees?
        • Will you need time before and/or after the event for your own setup and takedown? If so, be sure to request pre and post event time in 25Live.
        • If you are requesting an outdoor space, what is your inclement weather plan? Do you need to reserve a rainlocation or backup date or do you plan on cancelling?
3. How many attendees do you expect or plan to invite? 4. What is your preferred room layout? (For example: theater, conference table, classroom, custom) 5. Will you need audio, video, or lighting rentals? (For example: wired or wireless microphone, sound system, laptop connection for sound and/or projection, stage and/or background lighting). Will this system fit in the space you are requesting? You will need to know this information prior to submitting your space reservation request.

View our Building Diagrams and Venue Setups
  • Once you have your answers to the questions asked in Step 1, visit the University Events website to learn about the process for requesting and scheduling events on campus. If you’re already familiar with the process, head straight to 25Live to submit your request.
  • In general, reservation requests can be submitted up to three years in advance.
  • For spaces outside of the three Student Centers buildings, contact the special campus area directly. For example, Housing spaces, Athletic fields, Recreation facilities, and more.
  • You should not proceed with the additional steps until you have received written confirmation of your space reservation and reviewed it for accuracy.
  • If you have not received a confirmation for your event, please contact University Events at
To see more information about what audiovisual setup comes free of charge with your venue, view our venue details listed on the Buildings Diagrams and Venue Setups. Buildings Diagrams and Venue Setups While additional services do come at a charge, an estimate can be requested three or more weeks before your event date through the Event Services Request Form and can be adjusted as necessary throughout the planning process to meet your event and budget needs. When submitting a request, consider when you will need furnishings and equipment to be set by, and any necessary rehearsal time. Event Services Request Form Reviewing Your Event Quote
In addition to the room reservation, production equipment, and furnishings, your event may require additional services in order to be successful. Consideration should be given to: If your event requires catering services, you can order food, drink, and table linens through Mason Catering or through any of these Approved Caterers. Your University Events 25Live Scheduler can to put you in contact with Parking, Police, Facilities, and other service departments as necessary. Be sure to communicate these needs during your scheduling and event planning processes, and to contact any necessary offices a minimum of three or more weeks in advance to schedule their services for your event.

Approved Catering
While requesting services for your event is certainly the most important part, the communication with these service providers should not end there. Once any documents or estimates have been received, they should be reviewed for accuracy, both, in terms of the services to be provided as well as the event information, including date, times, and location. Any necessary changes or alterations should be communicated to the service provider as soon as possible to ensure that they are able to accommodate these changes.
  • As the event date gets closer, all event documents should be reviewed for continued accuracy.
  • If event attendee registration or interest indicates that a larger or smaller setup should be needed, or if the timing of the event has changed, that information should be updated in 25Live, Mason 360, any diagrams for the event, and any service orders.
  • Day-of, on-site changes may not be possible, so it is important to confirm this information a week or two before your event.
  • Please be sure to share any helpful materials with the Event Services team (such as a run of show, an agenda, event handouts, etc.) so our staff are prepared to help keep the event on schedule and are able to answer any questions if approached by an attendee.
Once your event details are in place, you’ll want to get the word out about your event. Be careful not to advertise before your services are confirmed, and always double check the details, such as the time and location of your event. Visit our advertising page (click below) to learn about promotional opportunities available through Student Centers, such as kiosks, flyers, and Lawn signs. You can also have your event listed on the Today@Mason calendar by contacting your event scheduler.

View Advertising
You’re just about ready to hold your event! About two weeks before your event, verify with the respective department(s) and representative(s) that all of your event details are confirmed and ready to go. Make sure you know who to contact if you have last-minute needs on your event date. If you have questions or need to make any changes to your event details prior to the event date, contact your event scheduler from University Events and any applicable representatives or departments (such as Event Services or Catering) as soon as possible. Please note charges may be applied for last-minute changes in venue location, venue set up, or production needs. Use the following checklist to make sure everything is ready:
  •  Do I have a confirmation for my event space?
  •  Will the space I have reserved still meet the needs of my event?
  •  Do I have a confirmation for the tables, chairs, and basic equipment I’ve requested, if applicable?
  •  Do I have a confirmation for the audiovisual technology I’ve requested, if applicable?
  •  Do I have a confirmation for my catering service, if applicable?
  •  If my chosen caterer was not already approved, have they been added to the Approved Catering list and are therefore able to provide my food and drinks?
  •  Do I know who I need to contact the day of my event in case I have questions or need to make changes?
  •  Once you can answer “yes” to the above questions, you’re ready to hold your event!
Explore Our Services
Your Student Centers event space will be accessible starting at the pre-event time listed on your space confirmation, or at least fifteen minutes before your event time. If you need assistance after arriving on-site, you can reach our team by calling 703-993-8919. To avoid any excess charges from Event Services, make sure to leave the room clean and free of any incidental damages.

View Event Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines
Once your event has ended, that does not mean that the work is done! Successful event planners will reflect on what went well and could have gone better after each event. The most successful events focus on improvement and innovation.

Following your event, reflect with your team on what went well and any areas for improvement, and document these notes and ideas for reference when planning your next event. Use these notes to provide any relevant feedback to your vendors and service providers. Event Services will provide you with a link to a survey following your event with your invoice or through your room reservation, or you can always email us directly at

You will also want to re-confirm your payment method for any services ordered for your event. These invoices will typically post in the month following your event (for Event Services, invoices will typically post on or around the 10th of the month following your event). Be sure to review the final amounts charged and confirm that the account or payment method on file is still accurate.

When you are ready to hold your next event, simply start again at Step 1.