The Conference Planning Checklist Used By Top Event Planners

Event Planning Checklist

Are you planning an event or conference? It’s a great idea! Conferences offer excellent professional development and networking opportunities, helping you grow your presence in your industry.


Planning an event or conference can be overwhelming even for the top event planners. A successful event demands months of planning and preparations. If you are new to this, it will be more confusing and you might feel lost. What you need is Conference Planning Tips by experts. Don’t Worry!

Whether you are planning an in-person, virtual, or hybrid conference, we’ll be going over everything you need to know to plan your best conference or event. 

Need Conference Planning Checklist? Keep Reading!

What is a Good Conference or Event Plan?

A good conference plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines every aspect of the event from start to finish. It must include clear goals and objectives, a budget, a timeline, and a list of tasks to be completed. It’s a box of segregated tasks you need to do before, after, and during the event or conference. Crafting a successful event plan is not just a drafted and done activity – it requires collaborative efforts that need to be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.

How To Prepare For a Conference?

Pre-Planning –  Set the Groundwork

Before diving into the details of the conference planning checklist, it is important to set the groundwork. These initial steps will act as the answer to ‘how to prepare for a conference’ and compass guiding your planning process and ensuring your event achieves its full potential.

1. Assemble a Team: No event is a one-person show. Delegate tasks and leverage strengths by building a team with complementary skills. Consider including individuals with expertise in marketing, logistics, budgeting, and creative direction.

2. Set Objectives: What do you hope to achieve with this event? Is it to generate leads, educate attendees, or celebrate a milestone? Clearly defined objectives will guide your entire planning process, ensuring every decision aligns with your desired outcome. 

3. Know Your Audience: Who are you inviting? Understanding your ideal attendee – their demographics, interests, and expectations – is crucial.  This knowledge informs everything from venue selection to speaker invitations and the overall event format.

4. Theme and Format: It is not necessary to have a theme, but having a theme knot up everything. Develop a theme that resonates with your objective and target audience. Your theme can be generic to the industry, seasonal, on-trend, or much better, and you can be a trendsetter. Do you remember what format your event is, virtual, hybrid, or in-person? How many sessions are going to be, and how many days is it going to last? It will help you to set the stage.

5. Develop a Budget: Be realistic! How much money do you have for this event? Create a detailed budget that allocates funds for all aspects of the event, from venue rental and catering to marketing and audio-visual equipment. Don’t forget to factor in contingency plans for unforeseen expenses.

Step-by-Step Conference Planning Guide

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9-12 Months Before The Conference

1. Secure a Venue: This is a top priority. Popular venues get booked well in advance, so act fast. You might have to adjust the dates as per availability. Consider factors like location, capacity, amenities, and accessibility. Negotiate contracts thoroughly, ensuring everything from audio-visual equipment to other services is clearly defined.

When looking for the venue, answer these questions first:

  • How many attendees are you expecting?
  • How many sessions will be happening? How many rooms/halls will you need?
  • Does your conference theme match with the venue? (if there is a theme)

This will surely help you to find a place that suits or tick marks on your almost every need.

Let’s dig in and plan a successful event!

2. Confirm Date(s): Once you have a venue secured, finalize the conference dates.  Account for potential conflicts with holidays, industry events, or peak travel seasons.  Early confirmation allows for better marketing reach and helps attendees lock in their calendars

3. Craft Your Master Plan: Draft your event’s blueprint. Start with the conference day and work backward, outlining every crucial task, milestone, and deadline.  Assign ownership to each task within your team, ensuring accountability and smooth execution.  Having a master plan keeps everyone on the same page and prevents last-minute scrambling.

4. Choose Your Technology: Technology is your friend! Choosing the right tool can streamline your event planning. You will need tools to manage the following:

  • Event registration software to manage attendee registrations and payments.
  • A website builder to create a conference website for information and registration.
  • Implement a CRM system to keep track of attendees and communicate with them.
  • A project management tool to stay organized with deadlines, speakers, vendors, and budgets.

If you are organizing a conference in a virtual or hybrid format, you will definitely need a smart and advanced platform, where your guests will engage with you and your speakers. 

6-9 Months Before The Conference

5. Find Speakers: Compelling speakers are in high demand. Popular speakers will help attract more attendees and promote the conference. Start by identifying industry leaders, renowned experts, or captivating storytellers who align with your theme and target audience.  Reach out well in advance, as popular speakers often have busy schedules.  Clearly outline their speaking fees, travel arrangements, and presentation expectations.

6. Find Sponsors and Exhibitors: Are you organizing a big-level conference or event? Then, it’s an expensive undertaking. Sponsors and exhibitors bring financial support along with valuable exposure to your conference. Having a reputable sponsor can boost attendance and credibility.

Sponsors benefit by promoting their brand to a new audience and showcasing their values. This partnership can lead to long-term relationships and future collaborations. You might also consider inviting exhibitors to participate. These companies pay a fee or offer services in exchange for setting up a booth and engaging with attendees.

7. Develop Branding: Convert your potential attendees into confirmed ones with branding. Your conference brand is more than just a logo.  It’s the personality that resonates with attendees.  Develop a unique visual identity that reflects your theme, target audience, and overall event experience. This includes logo, conference name, color palette, imagery, and messaging

Good creatives take time. Hire a photographer and graphic designer they will help you set a unique creatives based on your brand and theme. A strong brand creates a sense of professionalism and helps you stand out in the crowded event landscape.

3-6 Months Before The Conference

8. Quality Merchandise: Who doesn’t like free stuff? Most attendees will expect some kind of swag bag. Branded merchandise isn’t just a souvenir; it’s a walking advertisement!  Design high-quality t-shirts, tote bags, or notebooks that attendees can wear or carry with pride.  This not only enhances the conference experience but also extends your brand reach beyond the event itself.  Offer a variety of merchandise options to cater to different preferences and budgets.

Do not forget to ask your sponsors if they want to add any promotional item in the swag bag.

9. Find Suppliers: Some event venues offer services and provide internal employees to handle the services like security, catering, A/V, Wi-Fi, furniture, and others. If not, then you will have to hire external suppliers and get permission from venue management to bring them. Finalize contracts with caterers, ensuring dietary restrictions are taken into account.  Research and secure the best deals on audio-visual equipment, furniture rentals, and any other necessary logistical elements.

10. Recruit Volunteers: A must-task in your conference planning checklist. You can’t do everything alone. Recruit a team of enthusiastic volunteers to assist with various tasks before, during, and after the conference.  This could involve registration check-in, managing booths, or assisting with logistics. Develop clear volunteer guidelines and training sessions to ensure everyone is well-prepared and understands their roles. You will need assistance in the following areas: 

  • Coat check
  • Parking
  • Attendee check-in
  • Wayfinding
  • Managing exhibitors
  • Managing speakers
  • Set-up and tear-down

Make sure to hire some extra, as last-minute drop-outs can mismanage and create a hassle. 

Conference Meeting

11. Start Promoting: Now is the time for you to start promoting the conference. Create a comprehensive promotional strategy that leverages various channels. Develop a captivating website showcasing the conference agenda, speaker lineup, and registration details.  Utilize social media platforms to build anticipation, share speaker insights, and run targeted ad campaigns to reach your ideal audience. Don’t forget the power of email marketing – engage with potential attendees through informative newsletters and exclusive offers.

For example, start the ticket booking two months prior with an early bird discount and advertise it. It will attract attendees to book first, and you will anticipate the data of attendees.

1 Month Before The Conference

12. Finalize Conference Schedule: With speakers confirmed and sessions outlined, it’s time to create a polished conference schedule. This detailed program should include exact timings for each session, speaker introductions, designated breaks for networking and refreshments, and even buffer periods to account for potential delays.  Ensure the schedule is visually appealing and easy to navigate,  distributed electronically, and displayed prominently at the venue. 

13. Finalize the Plan With The Team, Volunteers, and Speakers: Communication is key!  Gather your team, volunteers, and speakers for a comprehensive briefing.  Walk them through the final schedule, address any logistical questions, and ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.  Provide detailed instructions on everything from room assignments and presentation timings to volunteer duties and emergency procedures.  By fostering clear communication and aligning all parties involved, you can guarantee a smooth and well-coordinated event experience.

1 Week Before the Conference

14. Send Out Reminders and Check-ins: Don’t let attendees forget!  Send out a final reminder email with the conference schedule, venue location, and parking information.  For those who haven’t registered yet, offer a last-minute registration option to maximize attendance.  Consider sending personalized emails to speakers, sponsors, and VIP attendees, expressing your gratitude for their participation and offering any additional support they may require.

1 Day Prior To Conference

15. Last Team Check-In and Kick-Off: Here comes the last tick of before the conference preparation checklist. Gather your team for a final pre-conference briefing.  Review the schedule, delegate tasks, and address any last-minute concerns. Hand out each and every person their customized schedule and outline the key tasks and responsibilities. Ensure everyone feels confident and empowered to handle their assigned roles.  This final team huddle fosters a sense of unity and ensures everyone is on the same page, ready to deliver a stellar event.

Conference Day (Show Time!)

16. Conference Management: This is where your leadership and adaptability come into play.  Be the conductor of the event, ensuring everything flows according to the schedule.  Monitor speaker timings, manage transitions between sessions, and address any unforeseen hiccups with a calm and collected demeanor.  Your team and volunteers are your support system; empower them to handle logistics and provide exceptional customer service to attendees.

After the Conference

After the Conference

17. Follow-up and Analysis: Gather feedback!  Send out surveys to attendees and speakers to gauge their experience and identify areas for improvement.  Analyze registration data and engagement metrics to measure the conference’s success.  Follow up with leads generated during the event.  By capitalizing on this valuable feedback, you can refine your approach and make your next conference even better.

Plan a Conference That Set Up for Success

We hope this conference planning guide takes you out of your confusion and struggles to make the best plan. Use this from the start and make a good flow toward the end; even keeping the free space for adjustments is better for crafting the best plan. Technology is also crucial, as you will need top quality if you want to deliver a top experience. You will need various tools to manage the event efficiently, but it will be very costly in the end.

Why not try something that delivers everything you require to manage events on technology note on one platform? Grupio is here to help you to get the success of the event with the tick mark on every step of the conference planning checklist.

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