Event planning is full of surprises, which is why it pays to be ten steps ahead. Whether it’s marketing to attendees and driving registration or establishing a budget and securing a venue, event planners need to navigate a host of responsibilities—each one as important as the last.

But, have no fear, we’re here to help! We’ll guide you through every step of the planning process using our comprehensive event checklist. You’ll learn what it takes to organize a successful event from start to finish. With our template as a foundation, you can customize each item according to the needs of your upcoming event.

Before you start planning

Event planning has a lot of layers—far too many for any one person to keep track of all in their head. It’s much easier to compile everything in an event planning checklist.

A planning checklist isn’t necessarily an event plan in and of itself and shouldn’t be used in place of a run of show or event budget. Think of it more like a resource that chronologically outlines every detail of the event and when it needs to be coordinated. Using an event checklist will ensure that you don’t miss anything important along the way. In simple terms, it keeps you organized and on track so that you can deliver a successful event.

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all template, which is why it’s important to customize it according to your goals and requirements. To help you get started, let’s take a look at everything you might need to include in your event planning checklist.

6 months before the event

The duration of the event planning process varies depending on the type and size of your event. For in-person or hybrid events, most event planners tend to start coordinating 6-12 months before the big day. 

Here’s what you can expect to coordinate at this point in the process:

☐ Define your event goals

Before you get ahead of yourself, stop and ask yourself why you’re hosting this event. What is its purpose? What do you want to gain from it? How will you define its success?

Setting an event goal is an important first step. By deciding what you’re trying to accomplish—brand awareness, ticket sales, lead generation—you also determine how performance will be measured. Beyond that, it also impacts every decision you make thereafter.

☐ Work out the details

Establish the foundation of your event and decide what it is you’re actually going to plan. Figuring out the following details will set things in motion and plant the seed from which your event will grow:

  • Event theme: Brainstorm key aspects of your theme, including an event name, tagline, and value proposition.
  • Format: How will attendees experience the event? Will it be in-person, virtual, or hybrid?
  • Size: How many people do you expect to show up?
  • Logistics: Determine your event date, time, and duration. Is it a one-day conference, or a multi-day convention?
  • Location: Scope out a potential location, start getting event venue estimates, and book your venue. The earlier you finalize the venue, the better. Also, consider factors such as Wi-Fi, liability insurance, parking, transportation, security, and accessibility (all these details will affect your budget).

☐ Organize your finances

Before moving forward, it’s best to have a complete budget you can use to estimate potential ROI from ticket sales and sponsorships.

First, estimate the cost of your event. Then, using this information, establish an event budget. Determine how you will price your tickets. Will you offer early-bird pricing? VIP tickets?
Consider everything that you might need to create a successful event: 

Pro tip: Kick-start your financial planning using our free event budget template.

☐ Plan speakers, panelists, and entertainment

How are you going to keep attendees engaged? What are they going to remember about your event? 

Scope out entertainment options and get estimates. Create a shortlist of potential speakers and guest presenters. Reach out to them early and discuss the event to gauge their interest.

☐ Secure sponsorships

Give yourself plenty of time to plan sponsorship tiers and develop sponsorship packages, including pricing and benefits. Finalize your sponsorship tiers now and you won’t have to stress about securing sponsors later.

Once you’ve finalized your tiers, start pitching to sponsors and creating an event sponsorship proposal. Ideally, you’ll finalize your sponsors before moving into the final stretch.

Not sure how to get started? You’re not alone. Half of event planners agree that acquiring sponsors is the most challenging part of their job. Read our guide to learn how you can take the pain out of the process.

4-5 months before the event

As you near the midway point of the journey, you should already have the first part of your event planning checklist completed. At this stage, you’ll finalize deals, make deposits, formulate a marketing plan, and start pitching to sponsors. Let’s dive in!

☐ Finalize vendor contracts

For every large vendor you have, whether it be a caterer or swag supplier, be sure to finalize your contracts before going any further. You want to have ironclad confidence that the essentials are squared away before the day of the event. 

☐ Finalize speakers, panelists, and entertainment

By now you should have a shortlist of speakers, presenters, panelists, and entertainers. Now is the time to finalize those contracts and lock them in for your event.

☐ Acquire event technology

Map out your event tech needs and start getting estimates from technology vendors. Your requirements will vary depending on the event’s format. In-person events require check-in and registration, AV equipment, a stage manager, monitors, production equipment, and staff. Hybrid and virtual events will also require an event management platform where attendees can tune into the live stream and enjoy the content. 

What’s important to remember is that this is how your audience will experience the event, so you need to choose your platform wisely. Look for one that’s easy to navigate and allows users to participate in activities from the comfort of their homes.

☐ Execute a marketing plan

At this point, you’ll likely open registration and start marketing your event on social media and other channels. During months five to six, create an event marketing strategy and an event website where your registration page will live. This is where you’ll direct your target audience and drive ticket sales. Consider various promotional tactics, including email, traditional, and social media marketing.

Pro tip: Start marketing early. For large virtual events, 65% of marketers need more than six weeks to reach their desired amount of registrations. 

☐ Assemble your event team

Put together a complete event team of people with the skills needed to help you throughout the planning process. Assign roles, responsibilities, milestones, and deadlines so that everyone knows what’s expected of them. 

Pro tip: Event planning certifications are a great indicator of skill and experience. Click here to learn more.

3 months before the event

You’re edging closer to the big day! At this point, everything is all but set in stone. The final steps on your event planning checklist are:

☐ Launch your event registration page

You’ve put so much hard work into planning your event and now is the time to launch registration. Build your registration page (your event management technology should have this capability) and thoroughly test it.

Then, when you’re ready, launch it! For virtual events, aim to launch your registration page 2-3 months before your event. For in-person and hybrid events, aim to launch as soon as possible so your attendees have time to arrange travel and accommodations.

Finalize and build content

You’re down to the final steps before your event bigs. Now is the time to:

  • Confirm outside vendor contracts (if necessary).
  • Create backup plans (in case vendors or speakers cancel at the last minute).
  • Plan engagement activities and the event day agenda.
  • Send out final reminders to your target audience.

During your event

The day has finally arrived. Now it’s time to ensure your attendees are having a great time and that you’re prepared to put out fires should they occur.

  • Track performance in real time using your event management software. Review data and sponsor metrics to ensure you’re on track and make adjustments if needed.
  • Check in on the production team to make sure everything is running smoothly and the broadcast is seamless.
  • Prepare speakers and panelists for their time under the spotlight. Supply plenty of food and beverages in the green room for their pleasure.

After the event

The event may be over, but an event planner is never off the clock. After wrapping up the event and paying the bills, it’s important to keep the momentum going.

  • Reach out to attendees after the event and ask for feedback. Send post-event surveys to learn where things went right and where you can improve for a future event.
  • Repurpose content from the event and distribute it to attendees afterward. This keeps them engaged long after they’ve left the venue or ended the stream. 
  • Thank your sponsors for their partnership and send them focused data that demonstrates success and proves ROI. Luckily, with an event management platform, it’s easy to gather data and compile reports in a single pane of glass.

Seamless and simplified event planning with Webex Events

Without the right tools, the planning process can be overwhelming and chaotic. That’s why Webex Events is designed to make event planning faster and easier.

With an end-to-end platform like Webex Events, you can replace tedious manual tasks with automated solutions that track important metrics and make your life easier. Simply put, it takes the weight off your shoulders. From automated registration to immersive brand experiences, Webex Events has got you covered.

Ready to get started? Schedule a demo today.