Tech Event Planning Checklist

This is mostly a reminder for myself when planning future tech events (meetups, hackathons, etc.) but others might find it useful too. Just print it out and cross off the bits that aren’t relevant. It’s based on my experience as an organiser, speaker and attendee but if I’ve forgotten something please leave a comment.

Early planning

Name and topic

Consider a hashtag when you choose the name, and of course make sure there’s interest in the topic first!

Speaker list

You can get provisional buy-in from one or two speakers and use that to attract others. Speakers always want to know who else is in the line-up.

Date & time

The hardest part. Accept that you’ll never find a perfect date. Work with the locations available to you and check the calendar for other similar events.

Diversity/fairness policy

After a few controversies, more events are making clear their diversity policy and attracting a better variety of speakers and audience. Here is a sample diversity statement and sample code of conduct, both available under a Creative Commons license.

Location

Choose when deciding on dates. Visit in person in advance.

Budget

Lucky you! Plan for unexpected expenses.

Schedule

Allow ten minutes at the end for questions, a summary or just a buffer in case of overruns. Also include a break for events longer than two hours.

Sponsorship

Takes time. Be ready to tell the sponsors the event details, what you need the funds for and how they will benefit. Your life will be easier if you can manage without sponsorship.

Promotion

Main blog post/event page

Good idea to create a shortlink (e.g. with Bitly for easy sharing).

Map & transport

Date, time & duration

Cost

Free will save you a whole lot of hassle. Even so, make it clear whether people need to register or not.

Target audience

And the benefit of attending.

Hashtag

Perhaps incorporate it into the event name.

Contact details for more info

Whether they’ll be a video or live streaming

Preparation

Volunteers & helpers

Make clear that their help is voluntary but be sure to show your appreciation. Reserve some snacks or swag for them if you can.

Chairs for everyone

Make sure you reserve some for the speakers near the front.

Snacks

John Allsopp (Web Directions) says good coffee is a must.

Signs for the event and the bathrooms

Make the text big. Here’s a bathroom image you can freely use.

Welcomer

Somebody to welcome and help the speakers.

Inform security/building reception

Keep them happy and in-the-know.

Lanyards or stickers

Or stay anonymous.

Power supplies

Lots! If it’s difficult to spread them around the room, have a charging table or two at the back.

Wi-fi

Goes without saying. Make sure it’s more reliable than you think you’ll need.

Projector & screen

Don’t forget where the speaker will stand and a power socket for them.

Mics & audio

Clip-on mics are best but require a bit of setup time. If possible, also have a hand mic for audience questions.

Timekeeper

Decide in advance if you’re going to be strict or if you’ll give the speakers a few minutes leeway. In any case, someone needs to be ready to stop them if they get carried away.

Water for speakers

Sponsor logos

Be ready to show them on screen before/after the event and during breaks. You may also need a table for sponsor stickers and goodies.

Have marker pens, paper, scissors and duct tape ready. Any event, always.

Speaker communication

Length of session

Also whether they need to leave time for questions.

Target audience and size

Adaptor reminder

Macs!

Power & internet availability

Remind them to have an offline version of their slides and demos.

Costs you’ll cover, if any

Photo/video permission

Only if you’re planning this

Start of event

Welcome & thank you (speakers, helpers, sponsors, host and attendees)

Wi-fi access point and password.

Have this on a sign as well. Don’t forget the hashtag or IRC channel.

Photo policy

Let people know if they can’t take photos. Check people are OK with you publishing event photos.

Bathroom location

Emergency exits

Smoking area

During the event

Check Twitter

Gauge the atmosphere and be ready to ask the speakers to speak louder, slower, etc.

Walk around the room (discretely)

Do people look too hot or cold? Can the people at the back see and hear?

Take photos

Think of your post-event blog post.

Repeat questions

Always make sure the speaker repeats any questions from the audience to ensure that everyone can hear.

At the end the event

Thank you (speakers, helpers, sponsors, host and attendees)

Further info

Tell people where to go for slide links, next event details, etc.

Tidy up

Ask the helpers to stay a bit longer to get it done.

Take down the signs

Don’t forget any outside.

Get feedback, either informally or by using a questionnaire.

Share out leftover snacks

Give your hard-working helpers priority.

After the event

Publish photos

Ideally have a blog post with a brief report and thank you note.

Slide links

Try to ask speakers at the event or by mail afterwards to add to the event page.

Spread the word

Continue making a buzz to get people eager for your next event!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s