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Event Planning Checklist To Maximize Attendance

Thinking about planning your very first event but don’t know where to start? Or are you looking for an easier, more effective way to plan your next event? 

Here, we will share a universal Event Planning Checklist that you can use to help you plan a successful event. You can use this checklist to check for all the details you’ll need to factor in, as well as when these details should be executed in an event planning lifecycle. 

Let us begin right away.

How To Use This Event Planning Checklist

We are going to divide this checklist into several phases, but the actual timeline will vary depending on the type and scale of your event. 

For larger in-person events (with more than 500 attendees), the first phase of the timeline should start ideally 4-6 months ahead of the event, but if it’s a smaller event, we can start 2-3 months ahead of the event. 

For virtual events, typically we’ll have fewer moving parts to take account of, and so we can go away with a shorter preparation time. Ideally, however, you should at least have 2 months of planning.

Adjust this checklist based on your available preparation time, and you can use an event management solution to keep track of your event planning checklist. 

Event Checklist Phase I: Planning to Early-Bird Ticket Launch

As a general rule of thumb, the earlier you start planning your event, the better. As discussed, adjust the checklist as needed to fit your event’s actual timeline, but the more time you give yourself to prepare ahead of the event, the more freedom and options you’ll have.

This phase will focus on planning and kickstarting the event, and here are the steps to consider.

  • Defining the event’s purpose and objectives: what’s the purpose of hosting the event? Supporting a product launch? Building brand awareness? Based on this purpose define the objectives. How many attendees are you targeting? Who is your ideal audience?
  • Define a timeline: select a specific date if you can, but if you can’t, plan a rough timeline for the event. Avoid any big events (in your area if you are planning a live event), and avoid any major national/religious holidays. 
  • Secure your venue: (skip this for virtual events), shortlist potential venues. Research your options and negotiate. Determine your needs before committing to a venue. 
  • Develop an event plan: develop an outline of your event’s agenda/schedule and consider every detail
  • Estimate an event budget: estimate your budget while considering high-level elements, including: 
    • Venue rental 
    • Virtual event platform (for a virtual event), an event management platform, and other technology stacks
    • Catering
    • Talent/speaker fees
    • Equipment, A/V 
    • Staff and volunteers
    • Insurance
  • Establish your team: unless you are going to do everything by yourself, establish your team while considering the different sub-committees you’ll need.
  • Event branding: 
    • Develop an event name, logo, and tagline
    • Develop an event website with an event registration function
    • Establish social media presence
  • Develop a publicity plan: preparing an event press release, printed material design, signage, online social media campaign, email marketing plan, etc. 
  • Book speakers/talents/presenters/entertainers
  • Secure sponsorships 
  • Contact partners/vendors
  • Launch the event and start selling early-bird tickets
    • Make sure online registration is functional
    • Ensure registration forms are optimized

Event Checklist Phase 2: Marketing and Coordination

While the first phase is about establishing the foundations, the second phase is about coordination and execution, as well as promoting your event. 

  • Speakers and talents preparation
    • Get bio information/photo
    • Confirm content/topics of content
    • Travel and accommodations arrangements
    • Written contract (if applicable), make sure it’s signed
    • Share promotion materials with talents/speakers and ask them to start promoting the event 
  • Venue planning (for in-person events)
    • All venue details
      • A/V equipment
      • Registration/ticketing set up
      • Parking
      • Signage
      • Catering (menu)
    • Security plan for the event
    • Needs for any special insurance, permits, and licenses
    • Accessibility requirements 
    • Train staff and volunteers for specific venue needs
  • Registration 
    • Decide on ticketing fees
    • Set up and enable online registration
  • Administration
    • Identify accounting tracking details (items to be underwritten)
    • Finalize sponsorship packagings
  • Marketing and promotions
    • Develop promotional materials 
      • Ad materials
      • Newsletter articles
      • Blog posts
      • Tickets
      • Invitations
      • Posters
      • Etc.
    • Request logos from sponsors for marketing materials
    • Create a dedicated event page
    • Create relevant social media pages 
      • Facebook Event Page
      • LinkedIn
      • Instagram
      • Etc. 
    • Develop teaser video and post on YouTube and Facebook Event 
    • Register the event on relevant event promotion platforms
    • List VIPs in a tracking document (i.e. spreadsheet) and create the invitation
    • Order items for swag bag

Event Checklist Phase 3: Finalizing Preparation

The next phase is about finalizing the details of your event preparation.

  • Confirm talents/speakers/presenters
    • Confirm travel/accommodation details
    • Request copy of presentations and transcripts (if any)
  • Send reminders about registration and participation
  • Sponsorship finalization
    • Confirm sponsorship details and sign a written contract
    • Get any promotional materials from sponsors (if any)
    • Ask sponsors to share the event on their promotional channels
  • Marketing finalization
    • Announce keynote speakers/headlining talents, VIP attendees, honorees, etc. 
    • Circulate event news release to all partners and your website/social media
  • Standard ticket pricing: close early-bird tickets, don’t extend the deadline
  • Finalize all promotional materials

Event Checklist Phase 3: Final Touches

At this phase, the majority of event details should be confirmed, and this phase is mostly about finishing touches, including: 

  • Final team meeting
    • Confirm all details against the event’s plan
    • Ensure backup plans for any situation
  • Finalize agenda
    • Assign practice sessions if necessary
  • Brief volunteers and staff about their on-venue duty
  • Finalize seating plan
  • Confirm details with the caterer
  • Copies (offline and online) for any presentations and speeches
  • Final registration check
  • Plan interview and photo opportunities with VIPs and celebrities (if any)
  • Confirm media attendees

Event Checklist Phase 4: 1-Day Before The Event

  • Ensure all signage is in place
  • Ensure promotional materials, plaques, swag bags, trophies, and other details are on-site
  • Re-confirm media attendance
  • Ensure all signage is in place
  • Prepare registration tables
  • Prepare media tables (if any)
  • Setup and re-check A/V equipment

Event Checklist Phase 5: D-Day

The big day has finally arrived, and here are some things to re-check:

  • Ensure copies for all necessary documents: guest list, directions, phone numbers, seating charts, etc. 
  • Re-check with your team members (committee leaders) to confirm event details
  • Final confirmation with catering
  • Final confirmation with any sponsor team attending the venue
  • Assist sponsors, speakers/talents as needed
  • Manage registration and check-in process
  • Greet new attendees

Event Checklist Phase 6: Post Event

Congratulations, you’ve successfully hosted the event, but your job doesn’t end here. Conduct a thorough evaluation of the event, and update the event as needed. 

Here are some post-event activities you might consider once the event is over: 

  • Check-in with the venue: ensure nothing was left behind
  • Financial evaluation:
    • Update budget with actual spendings
    • Gather all receipts and documentation
    • Gather final registration data
  • Thank you’s:
    • Media
    • Sponsors
    • Speakers/talents/presenters
    • Volunteers
    • Donors (for charity events)
    • Attendees
  • Post-event marketing:
    • Send out highlight reels from the event to your email database
    • Share highlights on your social media
    • Update website page
  • Post-event survey
  • Team debrief: collect feedback from team members
  • Evaluation: what went well and what could you do better next time

Wrapping Up

Voila! Congratulations on finishing this checklist from start to finish, and hopefully you’ve found it helpful in planning your next successful event. You can use this checklist as a solid foundation to plan your event, as well as to brief your staff and volunteers.