The unique story of any conference should begin with the goal and then a detailed plan on how to reach this goal. In his article for Smashing magazine, the founder of HybridConf, Zach Inglis, states that the aim of every conference organiser should be to create experiences that reenergize people and fill them with new zeal for their work. If you understand your target audience, it’s not a challenge to build such a conference vision. However, without a good conference planning checklist, the chances are you won’t be able to transform this vision into reality.
What is a corporate conference planning checklist?
The list of tasks that you and your team have to complete before, during, and after an event make up the conference planning checklist. Depending on the complexity of the conference and the tools you use to build your checklist, it can be a very detailed document that includes deadlines, assigned responsibilities, comments, budget specifications, and updates, or it may just be a short list of items.
Why do you need a checklist for conference planning?
The most obvious reason why you need to develop a conference checklist is to ensure you don’t forget anything. Checklists have nothing to do with your memory, age, or thinking abilities. A crazy-busy lifestyle is a symbol of our tech-driven century, and this is particularly true for event planners, who should be able to handle thousands of tasks simultaneously when planning even the tiniest conference. Under these circumstances, having a tool that will help you track progress can be a lifesaver. Because of this, you need a comprehensive conference planning checklist to ensure the following:
- Nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
- Your team can collaborate more efficiently.
- No one misses a deadline.
- You build a system for efficient event communication.
- It is easier to track the completion of tasks.
Corporate conference planning checklist
There’s no single formula you can employ that will cover all aspects of corporate conference planning, but since you’re going to work with people united by one corporate culture, it’s critical to start from delving into it. Explore the client’s interests, discuss the conference vision with the client, and start planning accordingly. Catering to each event stage, we’ve developed a conference event planning checklist template that you can use and can customise based on your requirements:
Before a conference
- Determine the name of the event and the core themes.
- Deal with the time-scopes.
- Set a preliminary budget. It’s a good strategy to break down your budget into three sections: expected, planned, and actual costs.
- Choose the conference location and venue:
- Create a list of venue options (hotels, conference and business halls, open-space venues, etc.).
- Contact venue hosts, and discuss the details.
- Explore venue capabilities (lighting, audio-visual effects, capacity, and more).
- Compare pricing.
- Narrow down the list.
- Research additional aspects like accommodation capabilities, parking, transportation options, catering, and more.
- Make your final selection, confirm the final details with a host, and sign a contract.
- Set up a ticketing system and online registration (tools for the management of tickets, badge allocation technology, payments, etc.).
- Create a conference marketing plan:
- Write content (emails, agenda lists, speakers’ bios, blog posts, etc.).
- Create a dedicated conference page.
- Pick the channels that will be used for advertising.
- Invest in paid ads.
- Build a schedule for posting.
During a conference
- Arrange onsite check-in:
- Have a team meeting with an onsite team.
- Inspect any equipment, and ensure there’s someone to take care of any possible defects.
- Double-check all configurations and setups before the check-in starts.
- Ensure you can track the process in real time.
Find more on planning onsite check-in for a large conference here.
Find more on planning onsite check-in for a small conference here.
- Conduct an onsite discussion with the entire conference team.
- Check communication channels, including group chats, the event app, etc.
- Manage real-time connections, leads generation processes, networking sessions, etc.
At many iconic conferences, organisers play with engineering serendipity to foster connections during events. Here’s what Paddy Cosgrave, the founder of Web Summit, says about it:
“We want to create legendary networking at our gatherings and engineering serendipity plays a key part in this. It was in fact our engineering algorithms which allowed us to generate 600 meetings between investors and startups across two days.”
- Run marketing activities according to the schedule.
- Ensure your team responds to all ongoing guest questions.
- Use real-time surveys to capture feedbacks.
After a conference
- Take care of financial details (collect all payments and receipts in one centralised place, finalise budget reports, etc.).
- Prepare and run post-event marketing activities.
- Update your conference website.
- Send thank-you letters along with follow-up offers to guests, exhibitors, and vendors.
- Use post-event surveys to capture insights about the event.
- Review analytics, and prepare reports based on the numbers and data collected at the conference.
Corporate conference planning tips
To make any conference planning template checklist work successfully for you, employ the following tips:
- Seek professional advice. Putting the whole process of conference checklist planning on your own shoulders is a terrible idea. According to Grant Carmichael from the Midwest UX team, “Speaker curation, speaker hospitality, sponsorships, design, budget, volunteers, content, PR/social, production, ticketing, legal and more all need the full attention of someone.” Gather your whole team together before starting, and discuss each item on the checklist with the people in charge to make the checklist really professional.
- Add automation to a large event. If you’re planning a 500+ conference, determine the processes that can be accelerated through the use of tech, and specify these in your checklist. These can include onsite check-in, group registrations, automated email marketing, etc.
- Don’t rely on your memory. The mistake many conference planners make is that they simply disregard checklists when organising events with under 500 guests. To see why this is so wrong, all you have to do is go to Wikipedia and check out the article titled “Effects of stress on memory.” Indeed, an event day can be full of anxiety and last-minute changes, which is why your memory can mess it all up when you don’t have a good checklist to refer to.
You need a comprehensive checklist for planning a corporate conference, no matter what the size of the event is. Whether you want to develop your list of tasks from scratch or use a pre-made template, make sure it’s based on professional advice and detailed planning.