At times, the greatest ideas, programs and events may fall short of greatness because organizers neglect to plan how they will engage students before, during and after an event. In order to efficiently captivate, motivate and stimulate student audiences organizers should consider the following strategies:
Focus Groups. Focus groups do not always have to occur in a formal environment. As a student affairs practitioner, it is likely that you have a reliable group of students that you interact with on a daily basis. Utilize this group of students to get feedback about programming events or ideas. Student feedback can serve as a predictor of whether or not there is student interest in an event that you’re planning.
Pick the Date. The date, place or time that you decide to host an event should never be selected at random. Just because a coveted event space or noted speaker is available doesn’t mean that it is the right time or place to host your event. It is important to check campus calendars before planning an event so that you can avoid scheduling your event on a day when your targeted audience may have to pick and choose between competing events. Likewise, organizers should be cognizant of general class schedule times and not begin events without giving students an ample amount of time to get out of class and get to the event.
Campus Partnerships. Campus partnerships can go a long way to increase awareness about an event while providing your organization or department with additional exposure. However, a partnership is not just including another organizations name on your advertisement material. A real partnership occurs when two groups are both active and engaged in the planning, preparation and execution of an event. Establishing a mutually beneficial relationship can take your event from ordinary to extraordinary.
The Big Day
Social Media. It’s no question that students are constantly connected to social media. Social media shouldn’t be seen as a deterrent to your presentation, rather it should be used as an enhancement. Creating hash tags for events and encouraging students to post pictures and comments during an event can keep students engaged throughout your presentation.
Interactive Presentations. Face it, students get enough of lecture style presentations during class. In order to engage students, multiple delivery styles should be used throughout your presentation. Examples of different styles include: lecture, round table, or small group work.
Wrapping it All Up
Assessment Matters. Performance based funding is how many state and national entities are determining whether or not to award institutions with funds. Assessment is a way to prove that executed events were effective and impacted students. Ideally, presenters should take advantage of their captive audience and collect feed back on-site. If not, an immediate follow-up survey should be sent to attendees no later than the following day.
Keep the Conversation Going. To really make an impact on students, event organizers should keep the conversation going after the event is over. This could include creating a passive bulletin board, conducting a follow-up small group discussion or facilitating a conversation on social media.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dean Kenneth Elmore on Student Engagement Efforts