Checklist – General Events

High Level Planning: 4-6 Months Ahead of Event

  • Establish event goals and objectives
  • Select date
  • Identify venue and negotiate details
  • Develop Event Master Plan
  • Get cost estimates (e.g., room rental, food & beverages, equipment, speaker fees, travel, etc.) and create a budget
  • Recruit event committee,  event manager or chair and establish sub-committee chairs
  • Create and launch publicity plan & brand your event (ensure staff and/or volunteers are identified to manage specific tasks – e.g., media relations, VIP coordination, printed material design & printing coordination, signage, online /social media, etc.)
  • Identify and confirm speakers/presenters/entertainers
  • Identify and contact sponsors/partners

3-4 Months Ahead of Event

  • Speaker/presenter/entertainer liaison: e.g.:
    • finalize presentation/speech topics
    • get bio information, photo
    • travel & accommodation arrangements
    • have contracts signed if appropriate, etc.
  • Financial/Administration: for example, determine:
    • Registration fees
    • Set up/enable online registration
    • Sponsor levels/amounts
    • Identify items to be underwritten and accounting tracking details
  • Venue/logistics planning, e.g.:
    • Investigate need for any special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
    • Determine and arrange all details re menu, A/V equipment, registration set-up, parking, signage, etc.
    • Review security needs/plan for the event with venue manager
  • Publicity:  Follow publicity plan, e.g.,
    • Develop draft program
    • Create draft event script (e.g., MC, speaker introductions, thanks, closing, etc.)
    • Develop publicity pieces — e.g., newsletter articles and/or ads, radio spots, print blog posts articles for submission to other publications and/or ads, etc.
    • Request logos from corporate sponsors for online and printed materials
    • Develop and produce invitations, programs, posters, tickets, etc.
    • Develop media list & prepare News Release, Media Advisory, Backgrounder and all media kit materials (e.g., speaker info, photos, etc.)
    • Create event page on your website
    • Enable/create email event notifications
    • Create a Facebook event page
    • Develop a promo video and post on YouTube and your Facebook page
    • Register your event on a variety of online event calendars
    • Create some buzz on your blog or member forums
    • Determine VIPs and create invitation & tracking document (e.g., spreadsheet)

2 months prior to event

  • Send reminders to contact list re registration/participation
  • Presenters/Speakers: e.g.:
    • Confirm travel/accommodation details
    • Request copy of speeches and/or presentations
  • Sponsorship: Follow up to confirm sponsorships and underwriting
  • Publicity:
    • Release press announcements about keynote speakers, celebrities, VIPs attending, honourees, etc.
    • Post your initial event news release on your website and circulate to all partners, affiliated organizations, etc.

1 week ahead

  • Have all committee chairs meet and confirm all details against Master Plan – and ensure back-up plans are developed for any situation (e.g., back-up volunteers as VIP greeters, additional volunteers for registration or set-up, etc.)
  • Finalize event script
  • Brief any/all hosts, greeters, volunteers about their event duties and timelines
  • Final seating plan, place cards, etc.
  • Provide final registration numbers to caterer
  • Make print and online copies of any speeches, videos, presentations, etc.
  • Final registration check, name badges & registration list
  • Determine photo op and interview opportunities with any presenters, VIPs etc. and confirm details with interviewee and media

1 day ahead

  • Confirm media attending
  • Ensure all signage is in place
  • Ensure registration and media tables are prepared and stocked with necessary items (e.g., blank name badges, paper, pens, tape, stapler, etc.)
  • Ensure all promo items, gifts, plaques, trophies, etc. are on-site

Event day

  • Ensure you 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 Committee Chair to ensure their team is on track

Immediately following event

While you need to conduct a thorough evaluation and update your budget, there are post-event publicity, fundraising and member development opportunities that you can take advantage of with just a little pre-event planning. Here are some of the activities you might consider once the event is over:

  • Financial status: gather all receipts, documentation, final registration data, etc. and update budget
  • Send thank-you’s and acknowledgement letters to:
    • Sponsors
    • Volunteers
    • Speakers/presenters
    • Donors
    • the Media

In your thank-you notes, be sure to remind the recipients of the event’s success – and how they contributed (e.g., dollars raised, awareness – number of participants, etc.).

  • Post-event publicity – see publicity section that follows
  • Conduct a Post-Event Survey – to learn what people enjoyed about your event, and where you have room to improve.
  • Follow-up Communication with Event Participants
  • Reach out to event participants – thank them for participating and promote your ongoing programs and how they can support you throughout the year by joining, volunteering or making a sustaining donation.
  • Analyse any shortcomings and update this checklist for future reference.