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Planning a conference comes with a lot of moving parts and we’ve helped many companies pull together a conference that they walked away from feeling proud and with thoughts on how to make their next event even more successful. We’ve taken a lot of notes along the way and we’ve come up with a conference planning checklist that can serve as a source of centralized tasks so you can make sure that things are on track.

Lecture and Q&A set up at the Royal Room

While the specifics will vary from event to event, here’s a general checklist broken down into key stages to help you plan your conference:

Before You Begin:

  • Define Goals & Objectives: What do you want to achieve with this conference? Networking, knowledge sharing, brand awareness, etc. Knowing your goals will guide all other decisions.
  • Target Audience: Who are you trying to reach? Understanding their needs and interests is crucial for creating a relevant program.
  • Theme & Format: Develop a central theme and choose a format (e.g., traditional, virtual, hybrid) that resonates with your audience and goals.
  • Budget: Determine your budget and allocate resources wisely.

6-9 Months Prior:

  • Book Venue: Secure a venue that suits your capacity, location, accessibility, and budget.
  • Confirm Date: Choose a date that avoids conflicts with major events and accommodates your target audience.
  • Assemble Team: Build a team with diverse skills and delegate tasks effectively.
  • Find Speakers: Identify and invite engaging speakers relevant to your theme and audience.
  • Seek Sponsorships & Exhibitors: Partner with relevant organizations for financial support and booth space.
  • Develop Branding: Create a logo, website, and marketing materials that reflect your theme and target audience.

3-6 Months Prior:

  • Order Branded Merchandise: Consider items like name tags, bags, or promotional gifts.
  • Find Suppliers: Choose vendors for catering, audio/visual equipment, security, etc.
  • Recruit Volunteers: Enlist volunteers to assist with registration, logistics, and other tasks.
  • Start Promoting: Launch your marketing campaign through various channels (social media, email, website).
  • Develop Schedule & Agenda: Plan the conference flow, including sessions, breaks, networking opportunities.
  • Create Registration System: Implement a user-friendly platform for attendees to register and pay.

1-2 Months Prior:

  • Finalize Schedule & Confirm Speakers: Lock in your schedule and confirm speaker participation.
  • Send Reminders & Collect Information: Remind attendees about deadlines and collect dietary restrictions, travel details, etc.
  • Prepare Marketing Materials: Create event guides, maps, and promotional materials for attendees.
  • Coordinate with Suppliers: Finalize arrangements with vendors and confirm deliveries.
  • Plan Logistics & Security: Develop plans for transportation, parking, emergency protocols, etc.
  • Rehearse Presentations & AV Setup: Conduct speaker rehearsals and test audio/visual equipment.

1 Week Before & During:

  • Send Final Reminders & Updates: Inform attendees about last-minute changes and logistics.
  • Set Up Venue & Manage Registration: Ensure everything is in place for a smooth guest experience.
  • Welcome Attendees & Facilitate Activities: Provide clear communication and guide attendees throughout the event.
  • Address Issues & Adapt: Be prepared to handle unexpected situations and make adjustments as needed.

After the Event:

  • Collect Feedback & Follow Up: Gather attendee feedback through surveys or other methods.
  • Send Thank You Notes & Share Resources: Appreciate attendees and share post-event materials.
  • Analyze Results & Evaluate Success: Assess the event’s impact against your goals and identify areas for improvement.
  • Prepare Financial Reports & Settle Invoices: Close out all financial matters related to the conference.

Remember:

  • This is a general guide, adapt it to your specific conference needs and timeline.
  • Use project management tools or spreadsheets to track tasks and deadlines.
  • Delegate tasks effectively and communicate clearly with your team.
  • Be flexible and adaptable to handle unexpected challenges.

Planning a conference can be complicated, but we’ve got you covered. With this conference planning checklist, we’ve compiled key stages and tasks to help you stay organized and ensure a successful event. Whether you’re months away or just days before, our checklist will guide you through every step of the process.

Click on the image below to access a free downloadable PDF:

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