Lost keynote speakers, missing AV cables, and unhappy sponsors. It’s easy for
events to go wrong… but fear not! Our comprehensive event checklist will
keep your events running smoothly.
(15 min read)
Running an event is a huge undertaking. It’s like spinning a thousand plates at once. But you’ve got this. With a little (okay, a lot) of planning and a comprehensive event planning checklist, you can ensure your event goes off without a hitch.
To help you out, here is an ultimate event planning checklist for each stage of your strategy:
The best event planner checklists have shifted from a company-centric to an attendee-first strategy. Planners are building events around their attendees’ goals, challenges, and pain points. To do that, you have to understand everything about your audience.
Here are some customer research tactics to get you started:
The event landscape is more competitive than ever before. Four in five marketers plan to run more events this year than last. More competition creates challenges and opportunities.
Yes, it’s harder to cut through the noise and attract attendees. But you can also piggyback on your competitors’ work. Competitor research helps you understand your audience better and gives a heads-up on the latest trends. Use our event checklist to learn from their mistakes and borrow their successful tactics.
So, where do you start with competitor research?
List out all your competitors’ major events. Then analyze each one using a framework like the one below.
Once complete, you’ll be able to spot saturated event types, themes, and audiences. If you can, avoid these areas. You’ll have to fight twice as hard to get your message heard. Instead, look for whitespace (underserviced market) and design events around them.
Honest talk. Two-thirds of event marketing teams cut their budgets last year. Succeeding today means keeping a tight hold on your budget and doing more with less.
If you don’t have a robust events budget, create one now. Here are some topline categories to get you started:
Catch our deep dive on the topic here. Or jump straight to our event cost calculator.
Events are always a gamble. Will your event tracks resonate? Will speakers engage your attendees? Will the audience mix and mingle? While there’s an element of chance, you can de-risk events by testing themes and ideas during your research phase.
How? Here are some quick testing strategies:
Events can have a ton of different objectives depending upon the business goals they need to solve. Here are a few examples of event goals.
Goal-setting lays the foundation for your event planning checklist. Get granular and set nuanced event goals. (If you get that right, your events will achieve your business goals, and revenue will follow.)
Traditional event strategy is simple: hold one megaevent per-year and hope for the best. But that strategy’s broken. Modern event planning process (what we’re calling Event-led Growth) empowers marketers to turn monolithic events into complex, multi-touch journeys.
Marketers have dozens of event types to choose from, each one a little more suited to different goals, industries, and companies. Here are some of our favorites:
Event tech is like your skeleton. It provides structure and supports all the experiences you want to run. But what separates a quality event management platform from a mediocre one? Here are the non-negotiable features we recommend for a modern platform:
Evaluate and select your event tech early in the planning process. There’s no point plowing through your event planning checklist only to find that your tech doesn’t support your plans. Struggling to find the right events platform? Check out our comprehensive virtual event platforms guide.
In-person and hybrid events need a physical venue. Here are a few things to add to your event planning checklist:
Speakers can make or break an event. Start researching early and pitch speakers as soon as you know who you want. Good keynote speakers can book up months — or even years — in advance.
As an attendee, it’s easy to assume that an event organizer handles everything. But they don’t. Even the best event organizers bring in outside help. Ask a successful organizer for their event planner checklist and you’ll see just how much support they need.
Here are some of the most popular external vendors and service providers:
Most events have sponsors but for different reasons. Start by thinking about what help you need from potential sponsors. For example, do you need financial support? Or maybe you need a big name to boost your event marketing? Perhaps you need a technology partner?
Once you know what sort of sponsors you need, go and find them. Tap your and your colleagues’ professional networks. Loop in executives if you can. Sponsorship deals can take a while to work out, so run outreach as soon as possible.
With your plan starting to come together, you need a team to execute it. Although each team composition will be different, there are some core must-have roles.
After building your events team, your event planning checklist is complete. Next up, marketing.
Effective marketing relies on a strong foundation. Before diving into awareness and acquisition campaigns, spend time on your positioning statement and messaging guidelines.
If you’re new to positioning, start with a tried-and-tested positioning framework like this one:
For [target customer] Who [statement of need or opportunity], [product name] is a [event category] That [statement of key benefit]. Unlike [competing alternative], [product name] [statement of primary differentiation].
When you complete it, your statement will look something like this:
For [entry-level sales reps] Who [are struggling to generate meetings and pipeline], [SDR Superstars] is a [sales IC workshop] That [teaches SDRs proven prospecting skills]. Unlike [other sales events], [SDR Superstars] [targets underperforming entry-level employees and delivers real, actionable training].
Your positioning statement is your foundation. Every marketing effort builds from it — as you’ll see later in the event promotion checklist.
When you’ve confirmed your tracks, speakers, and sessions, piece together your run of show (also called a shoe flow, cue sheet, or cue-to-cue). This becomes your single source of truth — the definitive account of what happens and when.
Create an HQ for your event with a dedicated event website or landing page. It gives you somewhere to share information, save details, and convert visitors into attendees.
Here’s an example landing page for a hackathon:
Convert early adopters and build buzz with early bird ticket releases. Keep up the momentum by releasing subsequent tickets tier by tier.
Generate early traction by sending direct invites to your owned audiences. (If it’s appropriate to your event type, of course.) Target your existing customers, mailing list contacts, and social media followers.
Unless you’re only focusing on existing customers, you’ll want to attract new attendees, too. While the most effective marketing strategies will depend on your audience, industry, and event, here are some reliable channels to use:
You can’t have an event promotion checklist without swag. But there’s a fine line between useful giveaways and useless junk. Thoughtful gifting can be a difference between a good and a successful event.
Branded apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, socks) and bags (totes, duffels, travel suitcases) are easy wins. Notebooks are handy, too. Also, bottles, travel mugs, and other drinkware come in handy straight away. And consumables like coffee and tea are booming as companies move toward more sustainable options.
Your pre-event checklist starts with training. Start your team training early and give people lots of time to practice with your technology, tools, and processes.
A couple of weeks out, check your registration stats to confirm attendance numbers. Use those figures to re-calibrate your planning. For example, if you’ve had a last-minute flurry of ticket sales, increase your catering provision.
During your event, your focus should be on one thing — attendee experience. Every effort you make should make their experience more engaging, informative, and delightful. Use every feature in your virtual event management platform to deliver the best event possible. Don’t forget to refer back to your event checklists. They contain a ton of planning, information, and context.
Quality speakers are imperative for a successful event. You want your speakers at their best, right? Well, they can’t deliver a stellar performance if they’re worrying about camera equipment, sound quality, or other issues. Prioritize speaker support on your day of event checklist. Use your team to support speakers, cut any points of friction, and allow them to focus on what’s most important — their session.
Once the curtain falls on your event, the real work begins. You have to turn all your contacts, leads, and prospects into opportunities and deals.
Start by re-engaging your no-shows with a simple “missed you” email.
Then move on to prospects and opportunities. Use lead scoring to split leads into high-value and low-value. Send the high-value leads to sales and place the rest in an automated nurture campaign.
Modern marketers need to be half artists and half scientists. Once your event’s over, it’s time to don your lab coat, dig into the data, and calculate your event’s success.
Here are some simple steps to get you started:
Events generate a ton of content — TOFU blogs, session content, attendee Q&As, the list goes on. Once upon a time, marketers would have shelved their past content and moved on to the next event.
But not anymore.
Today’s high-performing event teams recycle content. Specifically, they look to the three Rs of reuse:
It’s easier to hold attendees’ attention in person. During a virtual event, they can tab over to their emails or check on Slack. With a virtual event planning checklist, you should invest as much time as you can in designing, refining, and testing engaging virtual experiences.
Old online networking meant text-based chat rooms with everyone speaking over each other. No one liked that. But modern virtual event platforms deliver engaging (and effortless) virtual networking. Build meaningful connections through match-making, speed networking, and one-to-one appointments.
Attendees love the flexibility of virtual events. They can join from anywhere and drop into whatever session takes their fancy. Build on that preference by recording every session and offering on-demand content.
A lot of event venues are old school. They’re designed for large-scale in-person events with little (if any) attention given to virtual components. That works for in-person, but not so much for hybrid.
A hybrid event checklist evaluates venues for both in-person and online capabilities. Look for venues fitted for online broadcasts rather than ones you’d had to retrofit. Slow internet speeds are a red flag, too.
In short, pick a venue that gets hybrid.
A hybrid event isn’t just an in-person event that you live stream. It’s an opportunity to select the best elements of both event formats.
With hybrid, you can take the best of both worlds, combining them to make something totally different.
During your event, lean into experiences that play to the strength of in-person and online. But after your event, work to share those experiences with everyone.
For example, share virtual-only sessions with people who attended in person. Or facilitate networking sessions between people who might not have met.
Event planning can feel daunting. How do you run an amazing conference or interactive workshop? The truth is, you don’t. You break down the process into manageable chunks.
Tick off your research checklist. Cross through your event planning checklist. Then marketing and preparation. Finally execute your vision and follow up with attendees.
By replacing a monolithic task with our ultimate event planning checklists, you can tackle anything. So go and plan your next event. And execute it with confidence.
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Incredible Companies Use Airmeet
Most loved Virtual Events Platform
Incredible Companies Use Airmeet
Most loved Virtual Events Platform
Events can open the door to more connection, and more growth. Discover why Airmeet
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