Creating the Perfect Checklist for Your Conference Planning

by Leah Doyle | February 23, 2016

Every conference planner needs a checklist. Obviously it is a must have for organization and keeping all the planning on track.

But what should be on that list? If you cruise the internet, you can find several examples of conference planning checklists that you can use. Each are subtly different, but might make your job easier if applied correctly to suit your event and vision.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Amy Stark, director of conventions for the National Council of Teachers of English, has compiled an excellent checklist. She begins with instructions for 18 months before the conference, detailing how to select your conference committee. Reminiscent of the best seller What to Expect when you are Expecting, Stark’s list details exactly what to do each month, counting down to the event. She ends her checklist with the After Conference details, concluding with:

“Write a post-event report. Include registration and housing spreadsheets, BEOs, final invoices, and notes about successes and challenges. Share with chair of the next conference and organization board members.”

Check out this Stark's organizational details at

  1. Located in historic Providence, Rhode Island and founded in 1764, Brown University is the seventh-oldest college in the United States and one of the top Ivy League schools. Brown Conference Services has put together a chronological checklist to help coordinate successful events. They have used this checklist to keep the conference directors and their own Brown Conference Services on track.

Brown’s first suggestion is a practical one – set the dates. But in this list, they also advise their conference directors to think of the possible conflicts to your schedule right up front:

“Check the University Calendar for possible conflicts, such as major sporting events, conferences, holidays, and University programs (such as Thanksgiving and Easter services, Homecoming, Parents’ Weekend, etc.). ... The University is a year round credit-bearing institution whose classes and events take precedent.”

Even if your event is not located on a college campus, the recommendations Brown gives are still relevant and might be a wonderful help for you in creating your own checklist.

You’ll find Brown’s planning sheet at

  1. Another resource to consider is the conference-planning checklist created by the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. Their concise, matter-of-fact approach to the conference task list has both a professional feel and a southern “get-er-done” attitude.

Consider Berkeley’s month 3 list:

“3 months prior to Conference:

Update website
Work on invitations and publicity materials
Send save the date to potential attendees”

You can find this no-nonsense list at

A great conference planner is organized, of course, but having the right planning tools will ensure the kind of organization that needs to happen to have a successful conference. Use these three examples and come up with your own checklist that reflects both the type of event you want to have and your personality. Happy planning!

tips to avoid disaster



Topics: Blog

Written by Leah Doyle


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