The Ultimate Conference Planning Checklist For First Time Planners


So you’ve become an accidental event planner?

You don’t know where to start?

Here’s the ultimate Conference Planning Checklist for complete event newbies.

Eight to six(+) months prior to event

  • Establish your event objectives & goals

  • Select dates and choose one that doesn’t interfere with other events or public holidays

  • Identify a venue and negotiate rates

  • Start your event master plan

  • Select potential event technology partners

  • Get some event website inspiration

  • Identify potential partners, speakers or sponsors

  • Decide if you want to charge and what conference tickets will cost?

  • How many people do you want to attend in person?

  • Will you provide live stream to remote attendees

  • Plan your budget (pull in data from previous events if available)

*start conference planning as early as possible. For a user conference, for example, 8-6 months is the absolute minimum. 12+ months will cause less stress and allow for better planning.

Six to four months prior to event

  • Confirm speakers. Have contracts signed (if necessary)

  • Decide upon event swag

  • Get speaker biography, photo, sessions etc.

  • Finalize presentation / speech topics

  • Arrange travel & accommodation

  • Set up your event landing page

  • Make sure you can easily build an event website in the look & feel you desire

  • Make sure the event website can handle increased traffic

  • Make sure the event website is mobile optimized and offers event marketing features

  • Plan your on-site registration or on-demand badging needs

Four to two months prior to event

Event Promotion

  • Get sign off on look & feel of event website

  • Go live with your online registration

  • Develop marketing content, e.g. blog posts, newsletter articles, Facebook Ads

  • Request logos from corporate sponsors & partners

  • Create your Facebook event page

  • Use LinkedIn to market your event

  • Set up your event influencer marketing campaign

Eight weeks prior to event

  • Send reminders to registrants

  • Confirm travel & accommodation details for staff, speakers etc.

  • Remind speakers about presentations & content

  • Release press release about keynote speakers or VIPs attending

  • Launch event influencer campaign

One week prior to event

  • Review your master plan to make sure nothing falls through the cracks

  • Produce seating cards, name cards

  • Close registration and provide final number to venue & caterer

  • Collect all presentations on USB sticks

One day prior to the event

  • Take delegate packs to reception area

  • Put up signage to guide attendees to conference room from the hotel/venue reception area or main entrance

  • Place “Keep these seats free’ cards on two or three seats near the entrance of the conference room , so that latecomers can slip in easy

  • Check the room layout and make sure it’s appropriately set-up

  • Check the heating/cooling of the room

  • Check the technical equipment including screen, projector, AV

  • Delegate tables: Check that the water, drinking glasses, pads and pens or pencils and name cards are in place

  • Find out the location of toilet facilities, including disabled access

  • Check that no fire drills are planned for the day
    Check fire drill procedures and find out about emergency routes out of the conference room

  • Find out exactly what the lunch options will be and what the seating arrangements will be

  • Set up registration desk with delegate badges lined up alphabetically or on-demand badging facilities set up

  • Direct delegates so they know where to find the toilets

  • Ensure that tea/coffee facilities never run out

  • Ensure you have copies of phone numbers, directions, instructions, parking permits, seating charts & guest lists

Throughout the day of the event

  • Tidy the reception area

  • Meet any further speakers arriving for the event

  • Give the pre-lunch presenter the 5-minute signal before lunch is due

At the end of the event

  • Collect any badges offered to you

  • Send post event survey through your mobile app or via email

Up until one week after the event

  • Wrap up financials: gather all receipts and final registration data to update the budget

  • Write thank you notes to partners, sponsors, staff, media, volunteers etc.

  • Give attendees access to your community

  • Conduct a thorough evaluation

While there are many tools out there to make your event planning easier and streamlined, you also need an awesome looking event website and registration tool that puts your brand right, front and center. Swoogo can help, so why not get your team involved and book a free tour or subscribe to our awesome newsletter?

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