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Initial Planning & Top Tips

There are a few key things to consider when you are first thinking about running an event. If you can confirm these things at an early stage then it will help to make the rest of the planning stage more straightforward. 

Initial Planning Smaller

Questions to Consider

What sort of event do you want to deliver? 

    • Is it a social activity, Go Paddling session, competition, tour or some combination? 

Why do you want to run it and what are you trying to achieve from running it?

  • Is it to promote the club, engage members, provide competition, generate a profit or some combination of these? 

When do you want to/when can you run it? 

  • Is there a preferred time to deliver the event? 

  • Are there any other activities that may clash with the event - paddling events, other sport events, local activities?

Who do you need to initially agree to the event?

  • Club committee, discipline committee, regional development team, venue or facility operators?

Who is going to organise the event with you - do you anticipate you can get enough support to organise the event?

How many people do you want to attend and how many people can? 

  • How many are expected to attend? 

  • How many people can your potential venue/facilities accommodate?

How long can the event run for – taking into account venue availability, daylight, workforce availability?How long will the activities you want to run take?
How much space will it require – particularly useful if multiple activities are happening simultaneously?
Are there other time considerations to factor in – e.g. time that needs to be allowed between certain heats or races to allow competitors time to rest?

Top Tips


Ensuring the safety of all participants, spectators and workforce is paramount for any event. Having a suitable risk assessment and the relevant measures in place to deal with each scenario should help for the smooth running of the event. Be sure to make use of an event organising committee to allocate relevant roles, such as a safety officer for the event.


Compliance ensures the protection of everything and everyone involved within an event. Being compliant from the outset with GDPR measures, such as collecting and storing personal data correctly, will stand the event in good stead to ensure the event and attendees are protected.

Welfare and Safeguarding

It is vital that any event organiser has the welfare of those attending as a priority. Having safeguarding plans and policies in place helps give direction as to how to deal with any scenarios that arise throughout the event.

Project Planning

With so many different elements involved in planning an event, it’s important to make a plan to ensure everything is covered. If you work out what needs to be done and then who will do it and when, you can make sure everything is covered and that responsibility is shared between people. As part of the process, you can also look at contingency planning to look at what may happen in a range of scenarios that could occur.


A successful event relies on having a reliable team of people involved to make it happen. Organising Committees are a useful way of allocating roles and responsibilities to the relevant people involved, allowing a shared workload. It’s also important to get a group of people to support with the delivery of the event to make sure everything gets done.

Venue and Facilities

Selecting a venue will depend on the size and reach of your event. You need to consider the location, accessibility, transport links, the facilities (both on the water and off the water), and permissions for the venue. Once you have your venue, you can then look at any additional infrastructure you need such as catering, toilets or event-specific equipment.


We all have a responsibility for our environment.  It is important that, from the outset, you consider any measures you can put in place to make the event sustainable and minimise the impact on the environment.  This could include recycling bins, ensuring the use of plastic-free items through caterers or branding, reusable cable ties, car sharing, or even organising a river clean up as part of your event.


It is important that before you commit, you understand the likely income and expenditure of the event. Some events are run to make a profit, whilst others require external funding. Having these projections from the outset will allow for better budget management throughout the whole process. Be realistic with your projections.

Marketing and Promotion

This stage is key to ensuring people know about, and attend, your event. Useful methods such as social media, radio and TV, along with newspapers and magazines will all inform your potential audience when and where to be. It's important you set your target audience early, so you have time to market in the correct channels within plenty of time.

Participant Interaction

Regular communication with participants is vital to ensuring everyone is kept up-to-date with the event. Useful ways of interacting are through pre- and post-event communication such as providing venue information, scheduling details, safety information, what is expected of participants, event guides, and any feedback they may have.


Spectators can really enhance an event and can help to make it memorable. There are great ways to engage spectators outside of the paddling element, so if there's capacity, it could be a good idea to brainstorm ways of engaging the spectators throughout the day.

Sports Presentation

The presentation of the event can add atmosphere and extra engagement to an event. If you have the means, equipment (such as speakers), music playing devices and communication systems, these can be a great way to keep people interested around the paddling element. These tools can also be useful for the briefing of the day, health and safety announcements and medal presentations.