The CLE Event Planning Checklist

The CLE Event-Planning Checklist

The CLE Event-Planning Checklist: From theme brainstorming to post-event surveys!

Event management and planning can be overwhelming and daunting. Success, as it is often quoted, is in the details! Keeping an eye on all the aspects leading up to, during, and after an event, is the real trick to ensuring a successful outcome. Having a comprehensive checklist can keep you on track for success.

We researched some of the industry’s best event planners and came up with The CLE Event-Planning Checklist! Feel free to download and use this checklist every time you plan a new event!

“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” – Henry Ford ( Ford Motors, Founder)

Important Starts in Event Planning

As you begin the very first stages of planning your event, focus on your targeted attendee and the event features that will encourage them to register. A good plan goes beyond some of the more apparent details like theme, topics, and speakers. It can also include ease of venue location, time of year, and even the flavor of local culture!

Remember, it’s about creating excitement and engagement, so spend some time in those early stages getting your goals dialed in!

Recurring Event? It always bears repeating – if your event is recurring from year to year, be sure to dig out all your research and survey information from the prior events. Avoid headaches, by reviewing comments and concerns from the previous event and eliminating as many pain-points for your attendees as possible this year!

6-12 months before an eventThe Initial Planning Stage

  • Establish Goals and Brainstorm Event Theme
  • Determine Optimal Date
    • Avoid similar industry events on the same day/week
    • Lock in the event date
  • Identify Venues, Research Pricing, Visit Potential Locations
    • Review contract requirements
    • Confirm accommodations for people with disabilities
    • Verify parking and transportation options
  • Determine Event Technology Needs
    • Determine your tech mix – audio/visual, staging, event apps, internet access, Wi-Fi, etc.
    • Carefully review venue technology abilities – are any of the tech services exclusive to the venue by either in-house or other service partners
    • Decide on In-House or Outside Providers
    • Send RFPs to potential event production partners
  • Get Cost Estimates and Create A Budget
    • Review room rental, food & beverages, equipment, speaker fees, travel, etc.
  • Recruit Event Committee – Build Your Team
  • Create and Launch Publicity Plan & Brand Your Event
  • Identify and Confirm Speakers/Presenters/Entertainers
  • Set Your Sponsor Levels and Packages
    • Identify and contact sponsors/partners
    • Send sponsor proposals
    • Begin ongoing sponsor recruitment
  • Lock-In the Event Date

“I watch a lot of astronaut movies… Mostly Star Wars. And even Han and Chewie use a checklist.”  – Jon Stewart (Television talk show host)

3-6 months before an event

You’ve got the essentials figured out. Congratulations! Now it’s time to dig deep into the nitty-gritty of communicating with event venues, partners, speakers, and sponsors. It’s also the time for the foundational elements of event promotion and registration: your website and event page. Let’s not forget all those contracts, licenses, agreements, and logistics to keep it running smoothly and legally hassle-free!

  • Finalize Event Branding and Design (Theme, Logos, Colors, Etc.)
  • Finalize Speakers/Presenters/Entertainers
    • Get contracts signed
    • Finalize presentation/speech topics
    • Get bio information, photo
    • Travel & accommodation arrangements
    • Have speakers share/link the event with their social media networks
  • Lock-in Event Sponsors/Partners
    • Send sponsor contracts
    • Continue reaching out to more as needed
  • Financial/Administration
    • Set Registration- Finalize ticket prices (VIP, GA, etc.)
    • Select/setup online registration technology
    • Sponsor levels/amounts
    • Identify items to be underwritten and accounting tracking details
  • Create Event Website and Registration
    • Make sure the website infrastructure can handle the increased traffic
    • Make sure website is mobile-friendly
  • Venue Logistics Planning
    • Acquire any special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
    • Review security needs and plans with the venue manager
    • Approve menu with the caterer
    • Coordinate A/V equipment
    • Determine event signage
    • Finalize attendee communication plan
    • Review parking and transportation requirements
  • Coordinate with Event Production Partner
    • Determine the design, staging, rigging, and labor of all A/V needs
    • Create a schedule for rehearsals and speaker preparation
  • Develop a Publicity Plan
    • Outline marketing and publicity schedule
    • Decide on any paid advertising (traditional and digital)
    • Create event script draft (MC, speaker introductions, thanks, closing, etc.)
    • Develop publicity pieces
    • Request logos from sponsors, partners, speakers, and vendors
    • Develop and produce invitations, programs, posters, and tickets
    • Develop a media list and prepare a media kit
    • Create an event page on your website
    • Create a Facebook event page
    • Share event on all relevant social media channels:
      • Twitter
      • LinkedIn
      • Facebook
      • Instagram
      • YouTube
  • Implement digital marketing tools (email, blog and social media)
  • Develop video promos for YouTube and Facebook
  • Determine VIPs and create invitation & tracking document

“No wise pilot, no matter how great his talent and experience, fails to use his checklist.” – Charlie Munger (Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway)

1-3 months before an event

The excitement is growing, and you are quickly heading into the final stretch. Now is when it is crucial to make sure all your speakers, sponsors, partners, and suppliers are 100% onboard! You also need to keep the event promotion wheels turning to maximize your exposure, connect to your targeted audience and get those registration numbers heading skyward!

3 Characteristics of Great Conference Keynote and Session Speakers:

  1. Relevance – Find speakers and panelists who’ll meet conference-goer’s needs and expectations.
  2. Purpose – Look for people who can entertain or inspire your audience.
  3. Influence – Seek people who have a robust presence on social media and a solid reputation.
  • Send Reminders To:
    • Attendees
    • Presenters/speakers
    • Sponsors and partners
    • Vendors
    • Event staff
  • Confirm Sponsorships, Speakers and Contracts
  • Regularly Check Registration Numbers
    • Remember to register speakers and guests – they will need meals, nametags, etc.
  • Publicity
    • Release press announcements about keynote speakers, celebrities, VIPs attending, etc. Post initial event news release on your website, social media, in email and paid advertisements and circulate to all partners and affiliated organizations
  • Confirm Transportation/Accommodation Needs
    • Event staff
    • Speakers
    • VIPs and special guests
  • Finalize Venue Logistics
    • Catering
    • Audio/Visual needs
    • Venue Wi-Fi capabilities, Login, and Passwords
    • Power, outlets and charging stations
    • Event production partner details
    • Photographer/videographer
    • Equipment rentals
    • Event decorations and signage
  • Finalize Event Material Printing
    • Programs/agenda
    • Seating charts
    • Menus
    • Name badges
    • Swag and promo merchandise

“No matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes.” – Steven Levitt, (American economist and co-author of the best-selling book Freakonomics)

one week before the eventThe Final Week Before the Event

It’s the final countdown. This is where the days and nights start to bleed into each other, but the excitement and anticipation should keep you alert. Just in case, make friends with a local barista and keep a steady supply of java handy!

It’s in the final week that details will come at you from all sides and in a constant and hectic pace. Here is where all the hard work pre-planning and putting together an efficient team will pay off. Trust in your team, maintain a calm head, and rely on your checklist to keep you on track as you enter the home stretch.

  • Finalize Event Schedule & Scripts
    • Confirm schedule details with all event staff and partners
    • Get sign off on speech scripts
    • Write scripts for speaker introductions
    • Create holding presentation slides
    • Determine photo op and interview opportunities and coordinate details with interviewee and media
  • Confirm All Details with Event Team
    • Send volunteers and event staff reminder emails and any needed materials
    • Develop back-up plans for any situation
    • Brief any/all hosts, greeters, volunteers about their event duties and timelines
    • Ship all needed material to the venue
    • Pack swag/promo bags
  • Update/Send Final Registration Numbers
    • To the caterer
    • To the venue
  • Confirm Timings of All Your Vendors
    • Caterer
    • Event Production Partner
    • A/V equipment
    • Decorations
    • Speakers
  • Create and Print Name Tags
  • Coordinate Any Attendee Special Dietary Requirements
  • Create Digital and Hard Copies of All Your Important Documentation
    • Running order
    • Agenda/program
    • Contact sheet
    • Attendee list
    • Contracts

the event day

You have finally arrived! It’s been a long road, but you have planned, prodded, and prepared for this very moment. Here is a list of those last-minute things you can do to keep the show a success. Arrive early, or better yet, the day before and be sure to check these final items.

  • Arrive Early for A Venue Walk Through
  • Touch Base with Your Event Venue Point of Contact
  • Respond to Any Sponsor Onsite Questions or Problems
  • Set Up Any Banners and Your Media Wall
  • Check on Catering; Take Care of Attendee Dietary Requirements
  • Get Your Presentation Holding Slides Loaded and Tested
  • Conduct A/V Check with Your Event Production Partner
  • Put Up Any Event Signage to Direct Attendees
  • Set Up the Registration Table and Name Badges
  • Have Copies of All Instructions, Directions, Phone Numbers, Keys, Extra Parking Permits for VIP Guests, Seating Charts and Guest Lists with You
  • Check-In with Each Event Team Member to Ensure They Are on Track

With all of this in mind, it’s time to walk the show and run it like the superstar Event Planner you are.

  • Assist Speakers and Sponsors
  • Get Speakers to the Stage and Mic’d Up
  • Greet Guest and VIPs
  • Share Event Images, Quotes, And Interviews on Social Media
  • Guide and Answer Attendee Questions and Concerns
  • Remember to Eat, Hydrate, And Have Fun!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister during WWII)

post event

Take a slow, deep breath and give out a big sigh of relief – the event is over, and you’ve done a great job. Thanks to your hard work, planning, and a great checklist, everything went off without a serious hitch. But you still have a few things left to do before you can call it quits and start working on that next event.

  • Send Thank-You and Acknowledgement Letters
    • Attendees
    • Sponsors
    • Volunteers
    • Speakers/presenters
    • Media
  • Work with Event Production Partner and Videographer on Post-Production
  • Update Event Contacts
  • Financial Status: Gather All Receipts, Documentation, Final Registration Data and Update Budget
  • Conduct A Post-Event Survey
    • Learn what people enjoyed about your event, and where you have room to improve
    • Send event sponsors a separate survey giving feedback on their experiences
    • Compile data – analyze post-event survey results
    • Secure testimonials to share
  • Update Event Website
    • Change the event from “upcoming” to a “past event”
    • Upload event photos
    • Update web copy to past-tense
    • Add speaker presentations and videos
  • Team Post Analysis: Discuss/Document a Thorough Evaluation of What Worked / What Didn’t
  • Compile Data and Start the Pre-Planning for Next Year’s Event!

A special thank you to Eventbrite, Wild Apricot and G2 for providing excellent source material used for the creation of this blog.