Conference planning is a complex process involving multiple parties and it should be started 12 to 18 months in advance. But what if you’ve gone through all the planning stages, and among the last things left to do is to establish a timeline of the activities to take place the day before, the day(s) of the event, and the day after the event? We’ve thought of these final steps and we elaborated a conference timeline template that you can download for free here.
How to use the conference timeline template
1. Establish the conference schedule
The first thing you need to do is to establish the actual conference schedule. This starts with setting the number and duration of sessions and deciding on the overall duration of the conference (1 or 2 days). This is actually something to be done early in the conference planning process, as soon as you define the objectives and confirm the speakers. What you will do towards the end of the planning process is:
- create a balanced mix of session types: presentations, lectures, workshops, seminars, round tables, free discussions.
- assign each session in each hall, based on hall capacity and expected attendance. Our template is based on a venue that has 5 halls, but you can delete/add halls in the template based on your specific case.
- insert coffee breaks, lunch breaks and leisure activities in between and after sessions. If you kept an eye on the event trends for 2019 (if not, check out this article we published recently), you already know that a successful conference will include more leisure activities than what we were used to in the past, so make sure you allocate enough time slots for them. Also, if the first day of the conference ended with a cocktail or dinner, make sure the second day starts a bit later. Last but not least, make sure you allow enough time for guest check-in before the first session of each conference day. If you choose Metooo as your event management platform, you can do the check-in of each guest within seconds, through our Event Plan app.
- assign a time slot and people in charge for inspection and cleanup at the venue after the first day of the conference to make sure that everything will be functioning to perfection on the second day
2. Establish the activities for the day before the conference
Your conference will most likely start in the morning, so all the setup activities should be done the day before. These activities may vary based on your specific event (you can remove or add activities in the file we elaborated, because it is editable.) Generally, this is what you will have to deal with:
- a meeting with all the parties involved in the planning process, in the morning
- final confirmations on speaker availability and last minute schedule changes if it’s the case
- setup of AV equipment, catering logistics, sponsor branding, check-in area and lounge area
- setup of signage and bringing in printed materials
- training of security staff and volunteer staff on venue premises
- final inspection of all tech functionalities after setup
3. Establish the activities for the day after the conference
On the day after the conference, a few key activities must take place:
- a general meeting between the event management staff, venue staff, and vendors, in which any pending matters will be discussed and invoices for final payments will be reviewed
- check-out from the event hotel and review of hotel invoices
- payments to venue, hotel and vendors
- sending a survey by email to attendees, if feedback wasn’t collected during the event
- starting to collect materials generated during the event (photos, videos and social media posts by attendees, official photos and videos, media coverage)
One thing to note here: it might be tempting to schedule an evaluation meeting for the day after the event. The best thing to do though, is to schedule the evaluation meeting for at least 1-2 weeks after the event, when all the materials, attendee feedback and sponsor feedback will have been collected. And since we’re at it, when the time comes, you can also use our event evaluation template.
Using a conference timeline template will significantly streamline your workflow and the great thing about the one we created is that, because it’s an editable Excel file, you can easily adapt it to your specific event. Make sure everyone in your team has access to a copy of the timeline and set clear rules regarding who is in charge of what operations and who can edit the timeline.