Event planners are under constant pressure but high stress can be avoided by creating an event planning checklist.
Carving some time to this means you’re more likely to succeed in organising the important event or conference your company expects.
Writing everything down removes the stress of trying to keep every tiny detail in your head, enables deadlines to be set and, perhaps most importantly, allows you to delegate tasks more effectively.
Here we outline the key items all event planners should have on their conference planning checklist.
Set clear aims
Establishing a set of goals and objectives is fundamental to putting on a successful off-site corporate event.
Truly understanding the purpose of the meeting will make it easier to explain the rationale to delegates, and dictate what facilities and services you need from your prospective venue.
Setting specific and achieveable aims will allow you to accurately measure whether the event’s targets were met – and report this internally.
Write it all down
If you try to plan an event in your head you are likely to miss something. Instead, create a list of all the tasks that need to be completed and when.
Working backwards from the event can help you establish an accurate timeline for each task.
To improve collaboration with colleagues it can be sensible to use shared files such as Google Docs or Sheets, and to use project management apps such as ActiveCollab, which allow specific tasks to be delegated with set deadlines.
Establish the key details
Organisers must identify a date that every conference participant or presenter can make. It can be beneficial to find two dates so you have flexibility when booking your venue.
Once agreed, delegates should be made aware of the prospective date to help secure high attendance. Then your attention should turn to researching a site, with factors such as location and size being vitally important.
It is paramount to select a venue that offers the rooms you need for your event, whether this is a large theatre space or several break-out rooms. Spaces filled with natural light are more likely to help delegates maintain their focus throughout the day.
Set a budget
Event planners need to establish how much they can spend on their event as this will dictate major decisions, such as the venue and catering arrangements.
It can be tempting to book a venue with a low-priced base offering where extra services incur additional fees but there can be advantages to picking a venue that offers all-inclusive pricing.
Crucially, these allow organisers to be more confident of the final price and can reduce the number of cost-related decisions you need to make.
Collaborate and delegate
If you have not yet sought help from event planning colleagues, now is the time. It is important to delegate tasks with clear deadlines to ensure progress is constantly made.
Besides informing delegates and stakeholders about the event, your team can help you liaise with venue staff as well as with any third-party contractors who might be providing services at the site.
A menu needs to be decided, a décor planned, accommodation identified and guest experiences sourced. Use your team to help you complete these tasks.
Spread the word
Organisers should crank up the level of communication about the event roughly two months prior, to remind delegates about the conference and the need for them to attend.
Promoting the event via blogs or promotional videos can be an excellent way to enagage the audience and encourage them to be well prepared for the day if their participation is required.
Organisers should ideally have a clear idea of the event’s schedule in any promotional material as this is likely to help secure a greater attendance.
Plan the day
Organisers should run through the day at least two weeks prior to the event.
It is important to think about the practical elements of the day. These include how many registration tables you need, what the wifi password is, how delegates will be directed around the site and whether important information such as getting to the venue is available and correct.
Lead organisers should also consider writing a full event day logisitics plan. This should contain information such as set up times, arrival times and a plan for when food and drink will be served.
On the day
Even if your team has spent months helping you organise the event, it is essential to run through the order of the day with them just before it starts.
It is important for your briefing to include where delegates need to be at what time, contact details for relevant people and confirmation of the chain of command in case of an emergency or complaint.
Making delegates’ lives as easy as possible is an event planner’s ultimate goal and ensuring a clear plan from the start will help this to be achieved and mean positive feedback post-event .