MLDP Participants Reviewed Strategies for Event Planning and Stress Management

Keely Ayres is the Senior Production Manager at the Hopkins Center and she delivered a presentation to MLDP participants about “Event Planning: Steps to a Successful Presentation.” Productions that Ayres has managed for the Hop have included, President Kim’s Inaugural “Dartmouth and the Performing Arts” performance with Rachel Dratch and Buck Henry and the 2007 MSNBC Democratic Debate. The session started as each of the participants discussed any events they might be planning in the near future. Events ranged from information sessions for activities, to a gender and sexuality conference, to discussions with political candidates for the 2012 campaign. Next, Keely laid out the objectives for the evening, which were Steps and Tools to Plan Events, Indentify Leadership roles, and GANTT Charts. Keely stressed the importance of organized and detailed planning and ensuring that you leave nothing to the last minute. She then outlined the five stages of event planning: identifying the event, conceptualizing, planning (and continually reviewing, presenting, and then reviewing and discussing what went well so that you know for next time what worked and what went wrong.

The group then brainstormed what the logistics and components might be for any event. A few suggestions were finances, audio/visual, advertising and marketing, and capacity. Keely added that, especially for college events, obtaining permits is a vital part of planning any event. Next, we discussed who should be members of an event planning team. Keely stressed the need for strong leaders to motivate and delegate to team-members, but to never micro-manage. The core team needs to be people that you trust. When planning an event, some people might be in different cities or even different countries, so even though Skype may help for a time, it is important that at least once all the members of the planning team are in the same physical room. As for marketing or advertising, one must know their target audience. Social media is a good bet for teenagers, but snail mail and magazine ads still need to be used for those who might not use social networking. A treasurer is an integral member of the team because he or she will make sure the event never surpasses its budget. Other important positions are a volunteer coordinator, logistical coordinator, and a decorator or artist who can transform a space to be exactly what you want for the event.

Next, we moved onto tools that can help with organization when planning an event. Keely said that any planning meeting one runs should have an agenda so that you stay organized and ensure that you do not forget to talk about any necessary topics. To stay focused throughout the duration of a planning cycle, GANTT charts allow one to have a long-term plan and guarantee that tasks are at the right time. Right before an event, a checklist helps with the “nitty-gritty” and minimizes crisis management at the event.

The session concluded as we split into our small groups and each planned an event using a GANTT chart. Each group presented their respective event, which ranged from an alumni appreciate dinner to a Quidditch match on the green. Keely thanked the group for their attention and enthusiasm and offered her help for any events that the participants might plan in the future.
In the following hour, a session about Stress Management was led by Kari Jo Grant, the Health Education Coordinator in the Health Resources Office at Dick’s House. She serves as the trainer and advisor to 3 peer health advisor groups: Sexperts, Eating Disorder Peer Advisors (EDPAs) & Peer Education Action Corps (PEAC). She also advises the COSO-sponsored groups “Active Minds” and “ST. LUKE”. She has worked at Dartmouth since Fall 2004. Kari Jo began the session by defining stress. Contrary to the beliefs of most of the participants, there is such a thing as “good” stress. It is when your body reacts to something good, such as getting into college, and then stresses and scrambles about all the tasks that now must be done. Of course, there is also “bad stress.” However, your body cannot tell the difference between “good” and “bad” and therefore reacts the same way.
Next, we went around the room and each discussed what our personal reactions and responses to stress are. Responses ranged from headaches to tight muscles to binge eating to erratic sleeping habits to acting out. Kari Jo assured us all that in our very stressful college environments, these responses are all normal and expected. However, there are ways that we can alleviate stress and make ourselves both mentally and physically healthier. The benefits of relaxation not only include improved health, but allows one to take in new information more easily, it facilitates creativity, increases positive emotions, and “just makes the brain work better,” as Grant said.

To conclude the session, we spent thirty minutes using one of the relaxation exercises available on the Dartmouth Health Education website. Each of the participants said they felt much more relaxed. Grant thanked the group and offered her advice and help if we had any questions in the future.
You can access the relaxation exercises online.
-- Sam Lewis '13