Hosting a public event

The information on these pages is intended to give you guidance on hosting a successful public event at Imperial. If you have any questions about your event, or would like some advice, please contact us.

With the move to remote working for the majority of staff, the College is advising that all non-essential events and meetings should be held remotely or postponed/cancelled until further notice. 

If you are not from or based at Imperial, please visit the dedicated pages for external clients to guide you on venues and facilities booking.

Step-by-step guide to running a public event at Imperial

1 - Planning stages

The key to a successful event is in the planning. Before you even approach a speaker, it is important that the key people involved all agree on the answers to the following:

  • What do we want to achieve with this event? For example, do we want more students to apply to our department, do we want funding, do we want the public to learn about this interesting area of research?
  • Who are our audiences? Are they schoolchildren, other academics, policymakers, business, the general public interested in science?
  • How will we achieve our objectives? Should the format of the event be a debate, talk, panel discussion, workshop, guided tour?

The answers to these questions will help you to choose the right format, speaker and venue for a successful event. Answering them early on will also help you evaluate the event to find out if you have achieved your aims.

2 - Logistics (including venues and filming)

UPDATE: With the move to remote working for the majority of staff, the College is advising that all non-essential events and meetings should be held remotely or postponed/cancelled until further notice. 

Our guidance on how to set up and run a virtual event can be found here

Once the purpose and format of the event has been decided, it’s time to contact the relevant speakers and set a date. Find a date suitable with everyone (internal and external) then book a room, either through your department (departmental room bookers vary but administrators usually have the most recent list), on the online booking system, or contact Conferences and Catering who will be able to help you with venue, technical and catering requirements.


A list of College venues and capacities can be found on the Campus Services pages.

Remember to consider accessibility when booking a venue, particularly for a public lecture. Recommended lecture theatres for public talks include:

  • The Clore, Huxley Building, South Kensington Campus (capacity 230)
  • G16 or G34, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, South Kensington Campus (capacities G16 – 320, G34 – 174)
  • Wolfson Education Centre, Hammersmith Campus (capacity of largest lecture theatre 230)

Conferences and Catering can advise on suitable reception spaces for post-event drinks. 170 Queen’s Gate and 58 Prince’s Gate  are available for private dining for a select number of guests.

Additional things to consider:

  • Lapel mics for speakers, if not provided in the room
  • Handheld mics for audience questions
  • AV technicians
  • Events staff to look after swipe card access to a building for evening events (most buildings go onto swipe card access only between 5.30 and 6pm)
  • Water for speaker

Risk assessments

When running an event, it is vital to complete a College Risk Assessment form and have it signed-off by your local or departmental safety officer. Information about this, including the forms and your named safety officer, can be found on the College's Safety web pages (College login required).

Filming events

We’re keen to film as many speakers as possible to increase the reach and impact of our events. Recorded (audio and visual) events can be put on the College website, iTunesU and YouTube.

Campus Services may be able to provide filming for you, at a cost of ~£500 for a standard one-hour lecture. There is now also the possibility to live-stream events through the College's YouTube account. For information about this, contact the College's Conferences and AV team.

3 - Invitations

Invites can be either printed or emailed, or a combination of both. We recommend inviting your guests around two to three months before your event.

Whatever format you use, the following information needs to be included:

  • Title
  • Speaker
  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Chair and Vote of Thanks (if applicable)
  • RSVP details (name and email address)
  • Abstract (150 words)
  • Biography (150 words)
  • Any sponsor/funder information

Service Point can print standard invites and posters and are based in the basement of the Sherfield building on the South Kensington Campus, with other outlets near medical campuses based across London. Get in touch with Service Point

Here is a useful template document for planning your invite list. Event guestlist template [Excel]

4 - Marketing

The first step in getting the right audience for your event is to compile a comprehensive invite list. People to think about inviting (depending on the purpose of the event) include:

  • Industrial contacts
  • Policy contacts
  • Charities
  • Funders (public & private)
  • Colleagues (departmental and external)
  • Related departments at Imperial
  • Collaborators

The first step in attracting your target audience will have been through the choice of speaker, title and description (abstract) for the event.

There are a number of ways to market your event to the College community and wider audiences. The first, and most crucial, step is to think about your target audiences and how to reach them. 

5 - Near the time

One week before the event, send briefing details on the event to the speaker, chair and vote of thanks. Event briefing document

You can also contact the Communications and Public Affairs Division for title slides and slideshows about recent College news to put on before the lecture, as well as any materials you would like to hand out to attendees such as copies of Reporter or Imperial magazine

6 - After the event

Once the event has taken place, you may wish to report it:

  • Upload images to the Imperial asset library or upload them to Instagram and tag @imperialcollege
  • Film the lecture and upload to the YouTube and iTunesU - email all those who registered to let them know that the event was filmed and they can watch it again/if they missed it.
  • Tweet about it and check the Twitter coverage via the hashtag(s) for the event or associated tweets
  • Contact about a first-person report of the event for the next edition – reports are around 150 words and can also go online.

Evaluation of an event is also important to ensure that you achieved your main objectives and the next one will also be a success. You can look at the registered audience to see how the marketing worked in reaching them and also at the feedback you had from the people there. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement website has some good resources on evaluating events.