When it comes to events planning, organising a conference is one of the most challenging tasks you can face. As everyone who has ever planned a conference (or indeed attended one) can attest, conferences involve a plethora of different features, and everything has to work like clockwork on the day in order to avoid disappointment. However, it’s what happens behind the scenes and in advance of the big day that facilitates the smooth running of the event, and if you’re aiming to plan a conference any time soon, an event planning checklist like the one we’ll go through today is an absolutely essential tool.
Preparedness is the key to success in all aspects of event organising. That’s why a solid, fool-proof event planning guide checklist is such an important thing to have to hand from the very beginning. Event planning checklists allow you to jot down all those essential tasks, and order them by date as to ensure that nothing gets forgotten.
Believe us, here at Mask we take great pleasure in ticking them off one by one whenever we’ve got a big event to arrange, and seeing the countdown begin to a conference or large-scale event makes us incredibly happy to have an event planning checklist to hand at all times!
Because we’re committed to sharing the best tips and tricks at our disposal with our readers, this month, we’re taking you through the bare bones of the event planning guide checklist we use for any conferences we’re called upon to organise. Obviously, this can be tailored to your specific needs, but the essentials are all there… so use it wisely, and see the difference it can make for you!
18 months before the event
Goals and objective
Hopefully, you’ll already have a clear idea what the goals and objectives for your conference are. If not, it’s never too early to get them written down and set in stone. Once you have a clear idea of what you want your conference to achieve, how you want it to look, and what main features you want it to include, everything else should start to slot into place.
Event attendees, keynote speakers, and VIP guests are often busy people with surprisingly full schedules. Avoid disappointment by firming up your guest list as early as possible, and making sure the date is set down in their diaries.
Now, the chances are your schedule is going to change and evolve over the next year and a half. However, you’ve got to start somewhere, and there’s no time like the very beginning of your plans to lay out how and when you want things to happen.
15 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
You’ll be doing various PR tasks pretty much continuously in the run up to your conference, but in order to make the biggest impact, you want to get the ball rolling as early as possible. Start reaching out to your contacts with the essential details and themes of your conference, and get it listed in all the right places.
No matter what sort of promotional efforts you want to make, it’s really never too early to start promoting your event on social media, industry papers and magazines, or wherever else you feel appropriate. Drip, drip, drip hints and teasers for your conference, and get those early-bird tickets sold.
Your keynote speakers are going to be your main draw at your conference. Make sure their attendance is confirmed, and that the details of their presentation are included in your main promotional material. On top of this, you’ll need photos and bios of each speaker to promote excitement about your conference.
12 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
All too many conferences have fallen down or had issues at the last hurdle due to issues with contracts and legislation. Avoid potential tangles or issues by reviewing contracts a full year in advance, and making sure there are no hiccups with your venue booking, your catering, your guests, your hired equipment, your insurance policies… or anything else you could think of!
One year in advance is the perfect time to start putting together and publishing your brochure. Get your creative team to work in creating something which contains all those key details and juicy, tempting extras that’ll get your target audience excited!
10 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
Compile Activities and Topics
Every great conference needs a host of activities to encourage audience participation, and to elicit those all-important social media posts! If you haven’t already, it’s time to think of how to give your conference the boost of fun and dynamic interaction it needs. If you have to book entertainers, creative stations, or organise games, now’s the time to do so. As well as this, it’s time to sit down and think about other topics, seminars, discussion groups and more - all those things that will give your conference the edge and the full schedule it needs!
Remember, you need to start upping your promotional efforts the closer your conference date looms in the calendar. Start posting blogs, releasing video content, teaser trailer, and a steady stream of tweets (remember to set up a dedicated conference hashtag!) to develop a buzz around the event.
This is something you need to do regularly from this point on. How is your budgeting looking? Are you under budget, with some space to add on some great extras? Are you heading towards going over budget, and need to rein in some of your more ambitious plans? Keep track of your spending in order to avoid issues further down the line.
8 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
Confirm Final Program
By now, you should have a clear idea of what’s going to be happening at your event, who is going to be speaking, and the order of appearance. Finalise the program, and upload it to your site for your attendees and prospective attendees to see.
Implement a Registration Reporting System
Having a proper registration reporting system is vital for you to keep track of ticket sales, and in order to chase up leads and boost your attendee numbers. Get it in place at least eight months before the big day, and have a clear idea of who is going to be coming!
4 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
Assemble Registration Packs
You’d be amazed at how many events planners leave this kind of thing to the last minute, and end up pulling all-nighters in order to get them finished. This is a job you’ll be seriously grateful for doing months in advance, and it will also give you a chance to source and include some cool promotional goodies, too!
Assign On-Site Staff Responsibilities
The sooner your team know exactly what they’ll be doing on the day, the less chance there is for confusion or issues when it finally arrives. Everyone needs to know their station, their function, and have the information they require to make sure your conference is a success.
2 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
Your catering is one of your conference’s main features, and has the ability to become one of the most talking about and shared aspects of your event on social media. Get your catering schedule finalised two months in advance, to ensure there is no room for hiccups or overlaps.
Security and Risk Management
Preparedness is all about making sure you’re ready for when things go badly, as well as when things go well. Security and risk management is a key part of any conference planner’s schedule, as - believe us - occasionally things go awry. If they do, you need to exactly how to minimise damage, and ensure your attendees safety and wellbeing.
the day of the event
Confirm Pickup of All Supplies
The day’s finally arrived! You’ll be up early, and one of your first tasks will be to confirm the collection of all the supplies you need. You don’t want any nasty surprises, after all!
Brief Your Staff
Hopefully, your team are already well aware of what they need to do, where they need to be, and what their job and function is on the day. The morning is the time to go through everything one more time, answer any burning questions, and provide a real pep talk to ensure morale is high and everyone’s feeling positive and ready for the day ahead.
Arrange Daily Invoice Reviews
It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but it’s an important one when the day comes. Make sure your daily invoice reviews are arranged and in order, so you’ll be able to go through all the relative paperwork with ease once the time comes to pay your dues.
Event Planning Checklists: Your Key to Smooth and Effective Planning
Where would we be without our trusty event planning guide? It’s seen us successfully through countless conferences both big and small, and ensures we’re on track for an event that really ticks all the right boxes.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and have found the checklist above to be as useful as it was intended to be. If you have any notes, comments, or vital aspects you feel we’ve missed, we’d love for you to add them via the comments below!
No matter what you need for your event, Mask have the skills and experience to make even your most ambitious projects a reality. That’s why we’re considered a true industry leader, and have countless satisfied clients who return to our services time and time again. Want to find out more? Get in touch today!