So, you’re planning a conference, and you want to make sure everything goes off without a hitch? Then, you have come to the right place.
Conference planning is vital for ensuring the success of an event. Conference planners should consider several aspects of their events when organizing them, minimize room for mistakes, and keep their organization looking professional to attendees. In addition, determining the objectives of your event and executing the right plan will help you optimize your conference for success. Fortunately, a checklist can provide structure to your planning, and this step-by-step conference planning checklist has all of the information you need for a successful event. Dive in, as this resource provides insights and step-by-step checklist to ensure a flawless event experience.
In the Pre-Planning stage, there are essential factors that you should consider related to your ideal conference. Consider the following questions and how you would answer them for your own organization.
- What is the goal of your conference? It is important to determine your goal and work around the idea of meeting this goal as you plan. For example, a conference to raise awareness for a charity may require visual aids such as slideshows.
- Who is the target audience? Ensure your conference resonates with your intended audience. Think about who you’re aiming to attract to the event.
- What will success look like? To determine what success would look like, consider the best possible result. Perhaps you have successfully shared information on a topic or reached a fundraising goal. Knowing your objective will make it easier to design your meeting around achieving this success.
Conference Planning Checklist
1. Choose a Theme and Format
The first step on the checklist is to choose an ideal theme and format. Once again, your goals should be aligned with the theme. For example, an educational conference about cultures worldwide could have an “Around The World” theme, with booths and activities relating to different cultures worldwide. On the other hand, a “Reach For The Stars” theme with related decor may be more appropriate for a group of students requesting donations for an observatory. Below are some theme and format ideas:
- Around The World
- Reach For The Stars
- Making Positive Change
- Celebrating Excellence
- Pay and Play
2. Establish Your Budget
Remember to establish a budget before you run away with ideas about lavish purchases and expensive locations. The budget should be reasonable based on the needs of your organization’s event. To determine a budget, you should look at your event’s fixed and variable costs. This way, you are less likely to miss anything you will need to buy and less likely to go over budget!
Fixed costs are all expenses that you will need to pay, regardless of the number of guests in attendance. Examples of fixed costs may include:
- Renting the Conference Venue
- Costs for Conference Entertainment
- Costs for Conference Equipment
Variable costs are subject to change, depending on how many guests attend the conference. Examples of fixed costs may include:
- Costs for Conference Food
- Costs for Conference Beverages
- Costs for Conference Guest Favors
3. Create a Team and Set Roles
When organizing a large event like a conference, it is helpful to split up tasks based on your team members. Once you have created a team, setting roles for each of them can help determine which tasks and actions they will be in charge of. Below are some of the important roles necessary to plan a successful conference. If you require more team members for your needs, you can take a look at our event staff job description and use it to recruit more help.
- Marketing and Communications: Your marketing and communications team members will organize the event’s advertising. Their job is to spread the word so that potential attendees can be aware.
- Administration: The Administration members will take care of the staff management and other executive duties relating to the conference.
- Facilitators: Facilitators can provide support through networking and facilitating conversations among attendees.
4. Choose a Date and Venue
Choosing your date and venue is important and should be handled with care and consideration. For example, during the winter months, events should be held indoors rather than in outside venues due to the cold. In addition, dates should allow guests to enjoy themselves without worrying about the conference getting in the way of their work activities or religious holidays.
5. Choose the Right Conference Technology
To simplify your conference planning, conference technology can be a useful option. These tools can streamline your planning process, and many provide collaboration features so your entire planning team can stay aware of meetings and activity status. Automated alerting is another popular feature that can send guests notifications digitally, reminding them of their invitations. Today’s popular conference planning software tools available on the market include Aventri’s Event Platform, Socio’s Conference Management Platform, and Webex Events Software, to name a few.
6. Hire People and Services
Onboarding the right staff for your needs is essential to creating a clean and welcoming environment for guests. Planners should conduct hospitality staffing to clean and serve guests if food is provided at the event. Additional conference staff may include bartenders, hosts, greeters, DJs, entertainment, and more.