Running events | University of Oxford
Panel discussion after the Oxford China Lecture
Panel discussion after the Oxford China Lecture
Credit: OU China Office

Running events

If you have an idea for an event or you have been asked to oversee an event, what are your next steps? Here is some advice and resources to get you started.

Step One – The Event Proposal

Perhaps the most important part of the event management process is the Event Proposal. It will help you to understand the overall objectives and strategy (and importantly, whether an event is the best way to achieve these objectives), and it will lay a strong foundation for a successful event.

Before you commit resources to your event, it is essential to understand the objectives, the general structure of the event, the estimated budget (and who is paying for what), the stakeholders involved, the potential size of the guest list, as well as the type of venue needed and the approximate timing of the event.

Whether you are the event proposer or not, the Event Proposal will help you understand the amount of work involved, and the time and resources required to shape and manage the event successfully.

We have put together an Event Proposal document to guide you through this process, and to ensure that you lay your first foundations correctly.  There are 2 versions, please select the most appropriate for your circumstances (this is only available to members of the University):

Event Management Toolkit - requires SSO details

Once you have completed the proposal, and have engaged all the relevant stakeholders and decision-makers, you are ready for step two.

Step Two – Who will manage your event?

Once you have completed your Event Proposal, you should have an understanding of the resources required to deliver a successful event, and the resources that you have at your disposal. A decision should also have been reached as to who should take on the overall management of the event.

Have you decided that you are able to develop, manage and run your own event? If your answer is YES, then you are ready for Step 3.

At this point, it is important to remind you that you are not alone! The Events Office works in an advisory capacity to many departments and colleges. If, after you have read through our step-by-step guide to running an event, you would like advice, please do not hesitate to contact us 

Would you like help managing your event?

If the answer is YES, then the Events Office may be able to help. We can offer advice, or we may be able to manage and run your event completely, from planning to completion. There may be a charge for this service.

If you would like the Events Office to manage your event, please consider the following questions:

  1. Will your event be hosted by the Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor? – Most, but not all, events that are organised by the Events Office are hosted by either the Vice-Chancellor or the Chancellor.

    NB. It is important to note that there are also events hosted by the Vice-Chancellor and the Chancellor that are not managed by the Events Office.

  2. Is there adequate lead time? The Events Office recommends a lead time of 3 months for a small event and six months for a large event.

If you answer Yes to both questions, then please send your completed Event Proposal to Lisa Seddon, Head of Events. We will be delighted to discuss your proposal further.

If you would like the Events Office to work with you in an advisory capacity, please contact us

Step Three – The role of the Event Manager

You are now ready to begin developing and managing your own event.

At this point, it is crucial that your role as the event manager is clearly defined and communicated. This will help you not only to develop and manage your event with confidence, but ensure that you have the authority to make decisions, and move ahead with the successful organisation of the event.

The event manager should have full responsibility for project management. In order to achieve this, it is essential that you have the following:

  1. A clear and well-defined Event Proposal (please see Step One)
  2. A clear and well-defined Event Plan (please see below)

The Event Plan is an important operational document that details staffing, event strategy, guests, budget, the project time line, running order and general event logistics. This will be a working document that should originate from and be owned by the Event Manager, and shared and agreed with the rest of the team.

These two documents will together ensure that all stakeholder roles are clearly defined, that decision-making processes are fully understood and agreed by all stakeholders, and that the whole project team is aware of your role as the Event Manager.

While the Event Manager may not be the most senior person in the event project team, it is crucial that they are given the authority to manage the event, with planned team meetings, in order to communicate progress and iron out any issues.

Project - The Oxford London Lecture

The University holds lots of lectures in Oxford that feature academics working at Oxford as well as many distinguished visitors. We wanted to launch a new high-profile lecture to showcase our cutting-edge research, and the light it casts on global challenges in the 21st century, to the widest possible audience.

We decided to establish a new annual lecture to be held outside Oxford which would aim to connect a wide audience with research emerging from the University, showing how that research is immediately relevant to topics of significant public importance. This prestigious lecture series was to be launched in London, though it is not city specific.

Communications solution

We consulted with colleagues across the collegiate University in developing the concept for this new initiative. Once the concept was agreed, the Vice-Chancellor invited Professor Peter Donnelly, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and Professor of Statistical Science, to be the inaugural speaker. A panel of experts was chosen to explore in more depth, after the lecture, some of the issues raised.

A high-profile lecture to showcase our cutting-edge research and the light it casts on global challenges in the 21st century

A project team, with expertise from the Press Office, Publications and Web Office, Media Production Unit and the Events Office and led by the Head of Government and Community Relations, was established and this team developed a comprehensive communications plan. The Publications Team developed an identity for the lecture that worked with the general branding toolkit for the University and produced a suite of print materials, including an invitation, ticketing and a brochure for guests attending the event. The Web Team developed a website to provide information about the event and to sell tickets. Similar information was made available on Twitter and iTunes U. The Financial Times became our media partner for the lecture. The Events Team liaised with the London venue and oversaw the logistics for staging the event, distributing tickets to the general public and Oxford alumni, inviting a specialist audience including ministers, parliamentarians, health sector professionals and charities, as well as students from a number of London schools. Our AV experts liaised with the venue about the sound and recording for the lecture and discussion. The Head of Government and Community Relations oversaw the complete project, liaising with the speaker, the panel and the FT.


The inaugural Oxford London Lecture was held on 1 February 2011 at Church House in Westminster. Over 500 people attended the lecture and many thousand accessed the lecture via its website. A post-event survey of attendees generated a good response and feedback was used as part of the event evaluation which informed planning for the second Oxford London Lecture a year later.  The inaugural Oxford China Lecture (December 2013) and the inaugural Oxford India Lecture (September 2014) have built on the success of the series of Oxford London Lectures, in order to bring the best of Oxford’s research to a wider audience of business, politics, civil society and academia.

Resources and downloads

We have a full range of templates in the Event Management Toolkit which staff members can access using their single sign on account.

Event management

Took place on 29 May 2014

Head of the Events Office, Lisa Seddon, gave advice and tips about organising events, and outlined the guidance and resources available from the Events Office.

Events Office

in the first instance contact:

Head of Events
Lisa Seddon
Tel: 01865 280662, email:


Events Manager
Joanne Fisher
Tel: 01865 280524, email:

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