Simple steps for Organising Your first GirlTalk Forum

GirlTalk Forums are a valuable opportunity to empower young women in schools or at the state level and share important messages with everyone in attendance, but the planning and organising can be a daunting task. If you’re planning a talk event, there are speakers to invite, venues to book, and guests to accommodate, among other things. While it may appear that getting all of this done is impossible, if you start organising yourself right away and delegate tasks to a competent team, you can make your event run smoothly and tackle whatever the day may throw at you. Above all, stay calm and remind yourself that even if things don’t go as planned, your event will still be super special.

Nailing the Basics

1 Define the event’s purpose. When defining the purpose of a GirlTalk Forum event, you are simply asking the question “Why is the event taking place”? Are you planning to educate girls in your community? or to discuss issues facing young women in schools or in your country? Maybe to highlight and establish the reigning Queen’s platform? Get as narrow as possible. Whatever you’re doing (be it educating, persuading, celebrating, etc.), why are you doing it.

2 Decide on a format for your event. Events like GirlTalk Forum can come in a few different formats nowadays, especially in the age of the pandemic that has given rise to virtual meetings. Depending on what kind of event you’re holding we do encourage in-person events where you can bring people together under a roof but a virtual event can always be an option in case there are future restrictions or lockdowns in your country of residence.

3 Choose a theme for your event. Apart from helping you address the topic of discussion on the day, a theme can help you create hashtags and taglines for your event to make it easier to find online. Try to come up with a theme that fits the nature of your event and aligns with Miss Teen Africa’s organisation, while taking the goals of your event into account. Our 2017 theme in the UK was “As Girls, we Can” see below.

Miss Teen Africa UK 2016 hosting her GirlTalk

Forming a Team

1 Gather a team of volunteers. Talk to people in your community who know and love the cause you’re trying to support. Ask them to give up a few hours of their time before, during, and after the event to help you make it happen. Be sure to tell them everything they’ll be expected to do so they know what they’re getting into.

  • Your “community” may be different based on what type of event you’re running. If you plan to run it in your school, it could be your classmates; if you belong to a church, it might be the congregation.
You can download the GirlTalk Artwork here

2 Hire or task someone to take photos of the event. You can post these photos on your website or social media pages later on. Take note of the sponsor banners, your banner, the entrance, the reception area, and the guests. If the photos look good, you can use them to advertise your event next year!

  • It can be tempting to try and take the photos yourself, but you’ll probably have a lot on your plate. Ask a volunteer or a professional to handle photos for the day while you run around busy with other things.
  • If the event is super formal or you need high-quality photographs, it’s better to go with a professional photographer

Inviting Speakers and Vendors

1. Contact speakers to talk at your event. Depending on what kind of event you’re hosting, you may want to have a panellist, as well as a keynote speaker to deliberate and give talks. If you already have some people in mind, get ahold of them as soon as you can to see if they’re available (You can download the letter of invitation template here). If they’re coming from out of town, be prepared to cover their travel or hotel expenses.

  • Some speakers may not be available during the time you want to host your event, so make sure you have backups.
  • Popular speakers can really draw people to your event, so choose them wisely!

2. Create a budget for the event. All possible expenses, incomes, sponsors, and contingent expenses should be included. If you don’t budget, you’ll end up with a wad of receipts, an empty pocketbook, and no idea what the heck just happened. Be realistic from day one so no surprises are seen the day of!

  • You may also be able to raise funds through donations.
  • Find ways to cut costs. Consider less expensive locations (like school hall). Remember that a small, simple gathering that goes well is always more impressive than a grand event that fails.

Finding a Venue

Decide on a time for the event.
 This is the most important thing when it comes to your event. What time and what place will make people say, “Yeah, I’ll go to that!”? You want a time when everyone will be free and a place that’s a convenient location, and something you can afford to book!

Contact the venue to book your date. Once you figure out when you’d like to hold your event, think about the best place for everyone to gather. This could be a community centre, school hall, or even a classroom. Once you know where you’d like to go, contact the owner of the space to get permission to host your gathering there. You may approach the venue manager as a charity or event for girls and seek venue sponsorship. (Download a sample letter to ask for venue donation)

Arrange tables and chairs at the venue. If you’re renting out a building, it may not have tables and chairs provided. Make sure your guests will be able to sit and that you’ll have somewhere to put food or drinks if you’re serving them. Contact a furniture rental company to ask about renting out the items for the night.

  • The amount of seating you need depends on the number of guests you’re going to have. While this can be tough to estimate early on, you should try to get a good read on how many people might attend as it gets closer to the date of the event.

Advertising the Event

1. Create a poster with all the info for your event on it. It should include the date, time, venue, keynote speaker, name of the event, and theme or tagline for the event. Make sure the colours pop, the design is eye-catching, and people don’t have to hunt for relevant information.

  • Make sure you can print out physical copies to hand out around town as well.

2. Post the event on social media. Use your social media page to advertise your event a few months ahead of time so people can start marking their calendars. As the date gets closer and closer, post reminders for people so they can sign up or buy tickets if they need to.

  • In the age of technology, social media is the best way to reach the most amount of people.
  • You can use Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter.
  • To reach more people on social media, consider running an ad campaign.
  • Email the event to relevant people. 

3. Ramp up the advertising as the event gets closer. In the days and weeks leading to the event, really push the event poster to make sure as many people see it as possible. Keep emphasizing how much fun the event will be and what people might learn, achieve, or get if they attend. The more people hear about the event, the more likely they are to go!

  • For example, you could make a countdown timer on Instagram a few days before the event.
  • Or, you could post the link to buy tickets (If you are selling tickets) at 50% off 1 to 2 days before the event.

Managing the Day of the Event

1 Arrive early at the venue with your team members and volunteers. Check that everyone is there and all electronic equipment is in working order. Check your event timetable for adjustment (Download a template here) Any last-minute questions? If there’s time, give a little pep talk to the team (and yourself too).

  • Make sure the organizers are wearing a distinct badge or the GirlTalk Forum tees (Download Artwork here) so that participants can find help if needed.
  • Set up the decorations if need be with signs, tables, and chairs arranged in theatre style.
  • Welcome banners and other info in front of the building will be especially useful. You want people to be able to see from the street that that’s the place they should be. No questions about it!
  • Make a reception and registration counter. When guests walk in the door, they should see exactly what they need to do.
  • Put on some music! It can kill any awkwardness that otherwise might be flitting about.

2 Thank your team members and wrap up any paperwork you have left. Depending on your event, this could range from absolutely nothing to a long list of thank yous and receipts. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Thank all of the team members, especially sponsors and volunteers. You couldn’t have done it without them!
  • Finalize and settle the accounts. This should be done as quickly as possible. The fewer loose strings, the better.
  • Distribute any souvenirs or other publications to relevant people.
  • Deliver the receipts to sponsors and others.
  • Post the photos on your event website.

Download Event sponsorship here