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Tips for Writing Activity Descriptions

Tags: Tipsheet, Activity organizers, Community Organizers

The activity description you register online is your introduction to the general public visiting the Culture Days website. It needs to hook people into a few sentences and entice them to attend your activity out of the many other activities happening in your community.

Here are some tips to help you write a great activity description. These can also serve as guidelines for issues and logistics as you get started on planning your activity.

  1. Think journalistically: provide who, what, where, when, why and how at the top of your description:
    • Who are the artists, presenters and collaborators? Be sure to include the names of all the artists leading workshops, tours or talks once they are confirmed. Not only is it good to acknowledge their contribution, visitors to the website might know of them and want to attend for that reason.
    • What is going on? Briefly describe the activity on offer, and if there are multiple activities happening at your location, don’t lump them all together. For instance, if there’s an open house, a hands-on workshop and a guest lecture all happening over the course of the weekend, register each as a separate activity. After you save your first activity, you can click “Add a New Activity” from the main “My Activities” page to add another activity.
    • Where your activity takes place is entered into the activity address box. While signage will be important on the weekend, be sure to indicate in the “directions” box any unusual instructions to find your location. In addition, each activity listing includes a map function and the Culture Days website features a map of Canada depicting all the activities across the country. Make sure you have correctly entered your full address and postal code for validation and confirm your location on the map.
    • When activities occur (date, start time and end time) is selected using the calendar function after you enter the activity description. This means that you don’t need to include date and time in this description. However, an important detail to indicate is whether or not people can drop-in to your activity or if it is important that people arrive on time to participate.
    • Why should the public want to attend your activity? Tell them what makes it unique and interesting.
    • How will the public engage? Avoid general words such as interact, participate, collaborate without qualifying in what way the public will get to do these things. For instance, instead of saying “the public will interact with craft artists,” say “everyone is invited to pick up a needle and a pair of scissors to be part of a community quilting bee.”
  2. Try to keep your description short. Limiting yourself to three or four compelling sentences will usually convey all essential information for a single activity without intimidating the reader with too much text on the screen.
  3. Provide a web address if you have one. Visitors to the Culture Days site can click to your website to get background information about you or your group, art form, major career highlights, etc. so you don’t need all that information in your activity description. This also provides you with a valuable cross-marketing opportunity.
  4. Have someone else proofread it for typos, spelling mistakes and grammar before you hit the “Publish” button.
  5. Avoid too many exclamation points!!!!! Exclamation points lose their meaning if overused. Instead, use descriptive words to convey the excitement of your activity.
  6. Indicate if there is a target audience or preferred age group. Be clear that the craft studio is meant for kids, or the dance class is only for seniors if that is how you have conceived your activity.
  7. Take a look at other event descriptions of events similar to yours for ideas and inspiration. As a reader, you will discover what kinds of descriptions “hook” you more effectively than others.
  8. Include a picture. An eye-catching image can go a long way to attracting the casual website visitor to your activity and to set it apart from the crowd. If you don’t include a photo, the system uses a standard Culture Days image.
  9. Just a bit of reassurance: You don’t need to know all your event details from the start. When you register, you will see that your activity is indicated as ”Draft.” If you hit the “Publish” button, you are approving that the information is correct and ready to be viewed by the public. But don’t worry: even after you publish, you can go back into your activity to make edits, so if details change, you can always adjust them and then re-publish. That said, the sooner you publish, the sooner your activity can benefit from the Culture Days promotional campaign.

Originally submitted to the Culture Days blog by Aubrey Reeves, Culture Days Ontario Manager, April 15, 2010.