Whether it’s your first event or your hundredth, event planning is stressful. So stressful, in fact, that event coordinator was named the fifth most stressful job in 2017 by Forbes.
Luckily, there are some great resources out there that can make the whole process easier. In addition to digital marketing tools like MailChimp, Facebook Events, and SurveyMonkey, there’s also handy reference guides about getting more out of your budget and foolproofing your festival operations to help you find some calm amidst the chaos.
And, when you need to make sure nothing slips through the cracks, there’s this event checklist. Use it at any point of the event planning process to reduce stress and make sure no detail is forgotten.
Starting as early as possible
As soon as you’ve got the green light on your event (and sometimes even before), you need to get to work — fast. At the very minimum, you need to start the tasks listed below at least four to six months before your event is supposed to take place. The sooner you can land on a date, the better!
1. Establish your goals and objectives
- What is your event’s purpose?
- How many people do you want to attend in person? Watch your live stream?
- How much profit do you want to make?
- How much will tickets cost?
- Where will your event take place?
2. Put together a rough budget
- Borrow similar figures from past events for a baseline
- Fill in the holes with educated guesses
3. Select a date
- Choose an optimal date and a second best for backup when getting sign-off
4. Choose a location, a venue, and vendors
- What geographic area is best for your event?
- How many people will be attending your event?
- Do you need to provide Wi-Fi?
- Does the venue have the infrastructure you need?
- Are there local vendors you can rely on?
5. Choose a theme
- Review your goals & audience
- Refer to your event’s theme
6. Research speakers
- Start by researching speakers who have spoken at similar events to yours
- Compile a list of your ideal speakers
- Solidify your ask
- Reach out to your speakers
7. Start your sponsor search
- Determine what kind of activations you can offer
- Research sponsors who’ve partnered with similar events to yours
- Compile a list of your ideal sponsors
- Determine the market rate of your sponsorship packages
3 months out: Planning the nitty gritty
Once you get your event sketched out, you need to keep your budgets updated with the latest estimates and quotes. Dedicate 10 minutes a day to this work as you work out the details below, and you’ll get a clearer picture of your expected revenue.
The tasks listed below should be tackled at least 2-4 months before your event.
8. Finalize speakers
- Book your speakers
- Balance your lineup
- Get bio information and photos
- Arrange travel and accommodations
9. Organize your financials
- Choose your ticketing or registration technology
- Finalize sponsorship contributions
- Set your ticket prices (VIP, GA, etc.)
10. Build your website
- Get sign off on look and feel
- Update your site (if recurring event) or build your new event’s site
- Make sure your website infrastructure can handle the increased traffic
- Make sure your website is mobile-optimized
11. Begin to promote your event
- Develop messaging doc aligned with your event brand
- Utilize digital marketing tools like email and social media
- Consider offering an early bird discount
- Distribute your event on online event calendars
- Write blog posts about your event
- Create a promo video
12. Finalize venue details
- Work with caterer on approving a menu
- Secure A/V equipment
- Review security needs and plan
- Investigate for any special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
- Determine event signage and attendee communication plan
13. Draft a schedule
- Put together a working draft of your event’s schedule
2 months before: Finalizing details
Your event is in sight and the days feel like they’re flying by. Here’s what you need to keep top of mind two months before your event.
14. Send reminders
- To attendees
- To presenters/speakers
- To sponsors
- To vendors
15. Push promotions to meet your sales goals
- On social media
- On your blog
- In email
- Via paid advertisements
1 week before: Tying up loose ends
In the week leading up to your event, there’s a lot of last-minute wrangling to be done. Here’s what you need to keep track of to stay on top of your to-do list.
16. Finalize event schedule & scripts
- Make sure everyone has the same schedule
- Get sign off on any speech scripts
17. Update everyone with final registration numbers
- The caterer
- The venue
18. Confirm timings of all your vendors
- A/V equipment
The day before
Checked all these items off your list, but still feeling stressed pre-event? Download the event organizer’s pre-event, de-stress checklist.