Developing a Formal Program

A formal program should include a welcome, acknowledgement of VIPs, introductions, speeches, recognition of contributors, closing and groundbreaking/ribbon cutting (where applicable). Determine who will emcee the program and who will be invited to speak at the ceremony.

All speakers will need to know in advance how long they are to speak and the order in which they will speak. Factor in any other activities involved in the program, such as a groundbreaking/ribbon cutting at the end of the ceremony. For Dedications/Grand Openings, a tour of the facilities usually occurs immediately after the conclusion of the formal program.

  • Determine which university and community leaders should be invited to emcee and speak.
  • The appropriate dean/director/vice president will serve as emcee and preside at the ceremony.
  • The emcee will welcome guests, introduce any other speakers, and maintain the flow of the program. The emcee should also offer a few remarks, thank appropriate persons and recognize VIPs in attendance (including those on the platform and speakers).

Speakers/presenters should be contacted early in the planning process so they have enough time to prepare remarks. Inform each speaker how long they will have to speak/present. Call to confirm their attendance at least one week prior to the event.

No formal program should take place without a script. Event coordinators can develop this, but if they are working with a school communications officer, the communications officer should take this responsibility or at least have the ability to proof and edit. In lieu of a communications officer, the HSC Events Planner may assist. All speeches for the Health Sciences Vice President/Dean should be prepared by the Health Sciences Communications Officer.

Insert the pronunciations for all uncommon words in all scripts. Uncommon words should be reviewed ahead of time and practiced by the speakers.

Directions, program flow, and speaker remarks in the program script should be differentiated and in larger font, possibly in bold as well. Clearly mark speaker changes in your program script by highlighting speaker names, beginning remarks on new pages, and including tabbed sections for each speaker. Insert page numbers into your finished document.

Make a final draft of the event script available to all speakers at least 48 hours before your event for their review. 

The final script should be kept in a three-ring binder on the podium at the beginning of the ceremony. Separate speaking parts with tabs.

Printed programs can be available to all guests, if desired. Work with your school communications officer or the Health Sciences Event Planner to make a request for graphic design and printing services.