The Ultimate Event Checklist:
Keep Your Events Running Smoothly

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)

Table of Content

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:

  • Event research
  • Event planning
  • Event marketing
  • Event Preparation
  • Event execution
  • Event follow-up.

1. Event research checklist (6 months out)

☑️ Audience research

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:

  • Review existing audience personas
  • Use surveys and interviews to add new information
  • Analyze past event surveys to explore topics and themes

☑️ Competitor research

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.

Competitor Event #1

Competitor Event #2

Competitor Event #3

Primary audience
Value proposition
Tracks and content
Marketing strategy

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.

☑️ Budget planning

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 event budget, create one now. Here are some topline categories to get you started:

  • Event platform/Venue
  • Internal and external team
  • Promotion and marketing
  • Speaker fees
  • Merchandise and gifts
  • Catering or food vouchers
  • Entertainment
  • Engagement technologies like virtual photobooth and social walls

Catch our deep dive on the topic here. Or jump straight to our event cost calculator.

☑️ Theme verification


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:

  • Run small-scale events: Remember, events don’t have to be huge flagship conferences. Run small webinars or roundtables to verify content before scaling up.
  • Preview content on social media: Test out event track or session topics using micro-content on social media. If there’s a strong reaction, you know it’s a good option.
  • Recruit focus groups: Gather a few customers who match your ICP and bounce ideas off them. If their eyes glaze over, ditch the idea. But if they light up, add them to your event.

2. Event planning checklist (4 months out)

☑️ Goal setting


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.

  • Discover event (e.g. thought leadership webinar): Brand awareness, new accounts acquired, social media reach, organic search impressions
  • Engage event (e.g. annual conference): Accounts engaged, product adoption, users onboarded
  • Growth event (e.g. customer showcase meetup): Pipeline created, referrals acquired, social media mentions, evangelists engaged

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.)

☑️ Event type


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:

  • Networking events: Bring your customers, prospects, and community together.
  • Workshops: Help your attendees better themselves by teaching them new skills, tactics, or ideas.
  • Internal events: Events aren’t only external. Use town halls to communicate with your whole company and team-building activities to bond teams.
  • Conferences: Event-led growth still has flagship events. Make a splash with a large multi-track conference.

☑️ Event technology


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:

  • Registration and ticketing: Capture signups, monetize registrations, ticket sales, and more.
  • Networking: Attendees want to talk to each other… so make sure you let them!
  • Brand customization: Create a consistent customer experience by customizing your brand and color scheme.
  • Engagement tools: Turn one-way presentations into engaging two-way interactions with chat boxes, Q&As, and polls.
  • Multi-channel streaming: Blast your event to every corner of the world via Facebook, YouTube, and custom RTMP platforms.
  • Event analytics: Make sense of the noise and measure your return on event.
  • Marketing and sales integrations: Events are a force multiplier for marketing and sales. Integrate your event platform with tech stack to enrich, augment, and improve everything else.

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.

☑️ Venue (if your event is in-person)


In-person and hybrid events need a physical venue. Here are a few things to add to your event planning checklist:

  • Location: Pick a venue that’s easy to get to. If you’re targeting a local area, focus on parking or public transit. For international events, find a venue near an airport or transport hub.
  • Capacity: Half-filled venues feel impersonal and empty. Over-capacity locations feel cramped and claustrophobic. Find a venue that’s designed for your scale of event.
  • Budget: Ask for prices early. There’s no point in researching a venue that you can’t afford. Make sure your quote includes all optional extras that you need.

☑️ Keynote and supporting speakers


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.

  • Shortlisting and finalizing speakers for your event
  • Travel and accomodation
  • Technical requirements

☑️ Vendors and service providers


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:

  • Management: New event planners may want to bring in an experienced head to guide their event planning and execution. This is a good idea if you’re running a new event type for the first time.
  • Technology: All events should have technologists on-hand to manage digital tech and AV equipment. Sometimes the venue will provide someone. Other times, it’s up to you to find them.
  • Catering: Again, your venue might provide catering services. If it does, make sure you know who you’re working with. Otherwise, bring in outside caterers. 
  • Location: You need to ensure that your event venue is comfortably accessible for your attendees.

☑️ Sponsorship needs


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?

☑️ Sponsors


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.

☑️ Events team


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.

  • Technologist: Someone who knows your technology inside and out.
  • Producer: Recruit an experienced event planner (or equip a newer employee with an awesome event planner checklist) and operator. They’re the person who manages the day-of execution and keeps everything running smoothly.
  • AV operators: Don’t skimp on quality operators. Find professionals who know how to shoot and transmit events.
  • Moderator: Most events have one or two moderators who oversee sessions and guide attendees through the event. It’s a good opportunity to showcase internal talent.
  • Attendee relations: During your event, things will go wrong. That’s inevitable. Instead of worrying about whether you’ll encounter problems, recruit an attendee relationship team and prepare them to fight fires throughout the day.

After building your events team, your event planning checklist is complete. Next up, marketing.

4. Event promotion checklist (2 months out)

☑️ Positioning statement


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.

☑️ Event schedule


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.

☑️ Event website or landing page


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:

Event landing page deisgn by Dribble
Source: Dribble

☑️ Ticket release


Convert early adopters and build buzz with early bird ticket releases. Keep up the momentum by releasing subsequent tickets tier by tier.

☑️ Owned audiences


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.

☑️ New attendees


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:

  • Email marketing: Engage existing contacts with individual emails or nurture campaigns. Reach new audiences by buying lists or partnering with sponsors, partners, or newsletter operators.
  • Social media advertising: Deliver ads and sponsored content on your target attendees’ preferred social network.
  • Influencer marketing: If your industry has trusted influencers, pitch them on a partnership. This works especially well if they also agree to speak at your event.
  • Content marketing: Create new top-of-funnel content to promote your event. Drop CTAs into relevant older assets.

☑️ Swags, gifts, and prizes


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.

3. Event preparation checklist (2 weeks out)

☑️ Team training


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.

☑️ Final registration numbers


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.

4. Event execution checklist 

☑️ Outstanding event experiences


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.

☑️ Speaker support


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.

Step 5: Follow-Up

☑️ No-shows, leads, and opportunities


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.

☑️ Attendee feedback and event data


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:

  • Share post-event surveys: Ask attendees about their satisfaction, whether they liked your speakers, and where you could improve. 
  • Measure post-event success: Compare your performance against your original goals. If you planned to engage 100 new accounts, did you hit your numbers? If you wanted to drive 1 million social media impressions, did you get close to that figure?
  • Run event retrospectives: Pull everything together during an all-team retrospective. Ask and answer three core questions: What went well? What went badly? How can you improve next time?

☑️ Content recycling


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:

  • Reduce: Turn big assets (e.g. session transcripts) into smaller ones (e.g. social media audiograms).
  • Repackage: Combine multiple assets (e.g. two or three short sessions) into something new and different (e.g. a long-listen podcast).
  • Reposition: Add or remove content (e.g. geographic insights) to change the context of an asset (e.g. an EMEA-specific report.)

BONUS: Virtual event checklist

☑️ Engaging virtual experiences


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.

☑️ Virtual networking


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.

☑️ On-demand content


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.

BONUS: Hybrid event checklist 

☑️ Venues designed for virtual and in-person


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.

☑️ In-person and online experiences


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.

☑️ Cross-pollinate audiences and content


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.

Execute with confidence


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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