When you do it right, conference attendees have a smooth, seamless experience that requires little effort on their part. They have all the directions they need to get to the conference site, checking in is a breeze, the agenda is easy to decipher, they are never hungry or thirsty, and they leave the event feeling energized and motivated to keep the momentum going. As the planner of the event; however, you know a lot of work goes into all of those little details to ensure attendees have a memorable conference experience.
A detailed and thorough conference planning checklist can ease the planning burden. This quick reference provides some broad categories with essential tasks. Take the time to brainstorm the deeper details early in the event planning process so you have your own customized conference planning checklist to refer to along the way.
Having a common thread throughout the event supports the idea that attendees are having a shared experience with a collective objective. Your event’s theme is the first step in creating an immersive experience for attendees.
- Create a list of theme options
- Choose a theme from your shortlist
- Create a title and tagline for the event
- Select colors and decor that coordinate this theme
- Develop materials (like name tags and goodie bags) to support your theme
- Tie theme elements into training delivery with booklets and activities
- Embody the theme in the event space by decorating with signs, lighting, and other elements
In the modern digital age, having the right technology is an essential part of conference planning.
- Define your technology needs for every element of the event, including:
- Participant engagement (app for agendas and messaging)
- Internet and wireless internet
- Microphones and AV equipment
- Outlets, extension cords, and charging stations
- Activity-based technology:
- Engaging the participants with a conference app
- Use of conference Twitter feed
- Wireless voting
- Name someone responsible for setup and execution
- Have cameras and video equipment ready to capture images of the conference
- Provide attendees with the details they need to gain internet access in all spaces
Everybody loves free stuff, and conferences are a great place to pick up fun giveaways. As a bonus,make your giveaways on-theme and have utility in everyday work.
- Calculate the budget for giveaways and prizes
- Create giveaways that correspond to the theme
- Figure out the logistics for room drops if the conference is at a hotel
This part of the conference planning checklist typically requires an extreme level of detail. Refine these broad items to fit your specific needs.
- Coordinate lodging for speakers and participants
- Coordinate transportation for arriving, departing, and event outings
- Provide travel itineraries to external speakers and guests
- Plan menus for meals and snacks (ask for dietary restrictions)
- Create an agenda that includes all items for your event, including:
- Training or Breakout sessions
- Prepare agendas and information packets
- Provide maps, directions, and nearby locations of interest
- Coordinate with the hotel (if applicable) to have materials available upon check-in
- Print name tags (don’t forget to make them part of the theme!)
- Set up the registration or check-in area
Conferences require a multitude of roles that each contribute to the overall success of the event.
- Identify appropriate entertainment, performers or facilitators
- Hire outside experts for specialized skills training
- Schedule speakers (internal or external) that support your conference objectives
- Select an emcee who will introduce presenters and keep the conference moving
- Create a schedule so conference staff know when and where to be at all times
All corporate events are different, but these are some essential requirements for planning any type of business gathering. What key items do you include on your conference planning checklist?