Organizing a conference event is a massive undertaking. You’ve got to juggle venues, vendors, speakers, and a million other moving parts. It’s enough to make even the most expert event planner break out in cold sweat. But take a deep breath because we’re here to help you navigate the conference planning chaos with a complete event checklist that’ll become your new best friend.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro event planner, having a rock-solid checklist is essential for pulling off a successful conference and delivering a memorable experience for your attendees. Get ready to become the conference planning MVP your team deserves.

Specify Your Objectives

Before you begin planning your conference, take a step back and ask yourself: what’s the point of all this? What do you want to achieve? What’s your conference agenda? Are you looking to educate, inspire, or connect people?

You must also be specific and define your conference objectives. What are your event goals? What do you want attendees to take away from the event? By knowing what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to make decisions that align with your objectives and create a focused, purposeful event that resonates with your audience.

video recording at an event

Book the Appropriate Venue

Now that you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to pick a conference venue that fits the bill! For venue selection, you want a space that’s not only big enough to hold your attendees but also has the right vibe and amenities to make your event shine.

Think about it: do you need a stage for presentations or a more intimate and private setting for workshops? Do you want a venue with built-in sound systems and audiovisual equipment, or do you prefer outsourcing professional and reputable technical production services? Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves and start scouting out venues that tick all the right boxes.

Set a Realistic Budget

Your conference event budget is the backbone of your entire event. It’s what makes things happen (or not happen when you’re not careful!). So, how do you set a budget that’s realistic and won’t leave you scrambling for spare change?

Start by getting real about your expenses. What are your must-haves (venue, speakers, marketing)? What are your nice-to-haves (fancy catering, swag bags)? Be honest about what you can afford too and don’t forget to leave some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. It’s better to prioritize budgeting and save on some things than to overspend and risk going into the red.

Select the Best Speakers

If concerts have singers and performers, conference events have keynote speakers. That said, your chosen speakers will be the rockstars of your conference; they’re the ones who will inspire, educate, and entertain your target audience. So, you need to find people who are not only experts in their field but also know how to work with a crowd.

Opt for a keynote speaker who knows how to keep your attendees engaged, motivated, and maybe even challenged. Moreover, look for people who are passionate, charismatic, and know how to tell a story. And don’t forget to consider your target audience. Who are they, and what do they care about? With the right speakers, your conference will be the talk of the town (in a good way, of course!).

attendees at a corporate event

Oversee the Registration Process and Ticketing

Registration and ticketing can be a real hassle for both you and your attendees! But what if you could make it a breeze?

Make it easy for attendees to sign up, pay, and get excited about your event by utilizing online registration tools or a conference app to streamline the process and provide friendly customer support. Don’t forget to include your contact information, event website, and social media platforms so people will know where to reach out in case they have questions or need tickets.

Voilà! Your attendees will be registered and ready to roll in no time while you get to boost your ticket sales.

Coordinate Logistics

You know what they say: ‘The devil is in the details.’ And when it comes to conference planning, those details can make or break the event.

Event logistics and operations are considered the behind-the-scenes magic that makes your conference run smoothly. So, practice vendor coordination with your suppliers and volunteers to ensure the conference program runs like clockwork. Discuss the event date, the conference schedule, and the whole master plan. Also, ensure everyone’s on the same page about the safety standards to practice security measures and preserve a safe and peaceful conference event.

Plan for Food and Catering

Food will always be a big deal for all kinds of events. So, when it comes to your conference, you want to make sure your attendees are fuelled and happy. So, think about what kind of cuisine you will serve. Will you have snacks and refreshments available throughout the day? And how about dietary restrictions? Make sure there’s something for everyone and that every guest leaves feeling full and satisfied.

Be Ready for the Unexpected

Some things won’t always go as planned. Whether it’s an event tech glitch, a last-minute speaker cancellation, or a change in weather, you need to be prepared to roll with the punches. So, practice contingency planning and have a Plan B (or even a Plan C) in place. With a bit of prep and grace under pressure, you can handle anything that comes your way.

Wrap Up

Congratulations on making it through the conference planning checklist! Remember, the conference planning process is like hosting a party: It sure takes a lot of work, but with a positive mindset, it can be a blast. So, good luck and happy planning!