Step One:

Event Planning Checklist

Use this handy checklist to ensure your event is on track and on budget. Please note that some items on this list may not apply to your event.

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15 Weeks Prior

Convene committee for pre-planning meeting    
Determine goals and purpose of event
  • Who is your target audience for the event?
  • What are your learning objectives, if applicable?
  • What do you hope to accomplish? 
  • How will you gauge effectiveness? 
  • How does this event complement the Strategic Plan?
Select date and time
  • Ensure hosts, VIPs, and/or speakers are available for specified dates (work via administrative assistants with the Carnegie executive request form)
  • Determine if VIP’s spouse will be invited and ensure he/she can attend
  • Consult campus calendar/religious calendars when selecting
  • Think of campus culture/workday schedule when selecting times
Set budget  
Research potential funding sources
  • Could you partner with any other departments/entities?
Select and reserve venue Remember to review:
  • Will you need a rain plan?
  • A/V capabilities
  • Parking availability/restrictions
  • Maximum capacities
  • Other events occurring near space – will they conflict?
  • Accessibility – how will persons with disabilities enter the venue?
  • Access times to space
  • Load-in/delivery capabilities
  • Included equipment with room rental
  • Surrounding sound impediments
  • Security issues
Schedule rain plan, if applicable
  • Select venue
  • Determine who will make the rain plan call
  • Determine how and when you will communicate the rain location to your guests
  • As soon as a rain plan is established, consider additional needs to accommodate the plan (i.e., different staff, vendors, rental equipment, etc.)
Ensure inclusivity and sustainability   
Develop communications plan   
Schedule meetings with event team
  • Go ahead and book time to meet regularly with key players, as well as the walk-through meetings with caterers/vendors/volunteers 
  • Meet with and clarify goals with VIP's/guest's representatives
Determine guest list
  • Confirm any special needs
Investigate needs for special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.    
Research potential vendors
  • Use only Georgia Tech approved caterers or vendors
  • When selecting a new vendor for an expense over $10,000, begin the open bid process
  • Remember, sometimes venues have preferred vendors who will discount your rental rate when used
Create and distribute production schedule for any design elements
  • Remember to include all print, web, social media, collateral, signage, and online elements

12 Weeks Prior

Update any website material
  • Include accessibility information and resources (the Melbourne Convention Centre provides a good example)
  • Ensure website itself is accessible (work with AMAC)
Contact (or schedule) Georgia Tech Police Department  
Add event to campus calendar and discuss other internal promotion opportunities  
Contact Parking & Transportation  
Create timeline and delegate duties
  • Ensure to include who will serve as host for VIP guest
Plan for live web stream
  • Who is coordinating?
  • Where will the webcast run on the website?
  • Who will write copy for the site?
  • When will the site go live?
  • How will you communicate the webcast to your guests/audience?
  • Where will the video be archived afterward?
  • Who will caption the video (e.g., AMAC3Play Media, Rev.)
  • Can you run analytics afterward? If so, do for assessment purposes
Schedule photographer  
Schedule videographer  
Select designer/printer
  • In-house or outsource?
Set marketing/PR schedule    
Order/design save-the-date cards or emails    
Determine if large-scale promotional items will need to be designed and made (e.g., large signs, posters, etc.)    
Begin researching travel arrangements and hotel options    
Schedule meeting with Event Logistics Committee if hosting outdoor event  

10 Weeks Prior

Reserve hotel, plane, and travel accommodations for speakers/VIPs and staff, if applicable
  • Ensure hotel room blocks have multiple options and are accessible for guests.
  • Thoroughly review hotel contract for attrition clauses
Secure A/V needs for event
  • Lighting
  • Supplemental video needs
  • Sound – President Cabrera prefers lav mic. Ensure you have wireless advancer, if using ppt, and LCD projector/screen available
  • Coordinate additional mics in the audience for any Q&A needs
  • Ensure you have on-site A/V tech for event
  • Confidence monitors for speakers' use
  • Caption any pre-recorded videos that will be shown at event
  • Ensure you provide video specs to any presenter
  • TIP: Provide your speakers with ppt template already formatted/branded to your event
Design and create/order invitations
  • Always ask for dietary and special needs
  • If appropriate, ask for phonetic spelling of name for use later in presentation
Select & book caterer
  • Review the information about food and catering
  • Remember vegetarian options
  • Determine VIP’s F&B preferences
  • Will you need linens from the caterer or other rental company?
  • Remember waters for the podium and additional speakers/guests
  • Consider local/sustainable options
  • Discuss service expectations - how many servers per table, when do you expect tables to be cleared, etc.
  • Consider tailoring menu to VIP's/guest's interests/background
Secure entertainment/musicians
  • Review the information about booking entertainment
  • President Cabrera prefers to incorporate as many students as possible in musical performances
  • Think about all aspects of the event (guest arrival, duration of event, etc.)
Begin designing printed pieces (i.e. invitations, tickets, fliers, programs, pamphlets, out-of-town guest booklets, etc.)    
Develop press release and calendar listings    
Request and receive speaker/VIP bios
  • Ask for photo (high res jpeg) if included in program
Send save-the-dates    
Order plants/flowers
  • Remember rental plants for staging and all floral needs
Schedule President’s Podium
  • For official Institute events, use President’s podium – Brandon Ford
Coordinate meeting with fire marshal  
Schedule supplemental staffing
  • Ushers, crowd management, etc.
Order radios
  • Atlanta Communications
Send preliminary volunteer requests  
Request participation of additional speakers
  • Emcees, presenters, etc.
  • Always have someone introduce the President or other VIP
Order additional décor materials
  • Carpeting
  • Balloons
  • Pipe and Drape
Reserve additional set-up materials
  • Rental chairs
  • Stage
  • Podiums
  • Tables
  • Easels
  • Coat racks
  • Heat lamps
Complete/submit Event Details  
Brainstorm "WOW" factor pieces for event   

8 Weeks Prior

Review printed materials with your designer    
Set menu with caterer – know that you can confirm the final head count approximately a week prior to the event
  • Ask if there's a surcharge for late additions
Secure permits and insurance    
Determine if awards/trophies will be given and research companies    
Release press announcements to national and local print media  
Order any giveaways
  • Visit Licensing and Trademarks for official policies
  • Consider partnering with others to share costs 
  • Do not include a date, if possible, so item can be reused
Arrange for transportation (buses, shuttles) if necessary  
Determine parking and obtain directional maps for visitors to include with invitation    
Confirm accessibility resources
  • CART Transcription, ASL Interpreter, etc.
  • Ensure you have an operational plan in place for assisting those with disabilities and that volunteers are fully briefed on plan
  • Contact the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation for assistance
Order gifts for participants/speakers    
Request Tech spirit aspects
  • Buzz
  • Ramblin’ Wreck
  • Cheerleaders
  • Band
Begin editing printed programs/materials    
Schedule A/V run-through the day before the event
  • Schedule speakers/musicians and others to participate (if live streaming or captioning, include those individuals, as well as any social media testing, i.e. Facebook Live)
Secure Green Room
  • President Cabrera prefers to be close to other members of the event, if they are convening elsewhere

6 Weeks Prior

Assemble/address invitations    
Create RSVP tracking system    
Mail invitations
  • Set RSVP one to two weeks (one week minimum) prior to event date
  • Ask guests to include: dietary needs; special needs of which you should be aware; and phonetic spellings of their name
  • Update website with RSVP information 
Order awards    
Distribute fliers/emails advertising event    
Finalize transportation logistics for VIPs and out-of-town guests    
Release press announcements to local TV, radio media    
Determine if signage needs to be produced – if out-of-house, order signage and large promotional materials    
Hold walk-through with major stakeholders/committee members to ensure all needs are met    
Secure musicians/entertainers sound check    
Determine alcohol needs, if any  
Order alcohol  
Purchase all needed decorations, other than flower arrangements    
Begin making decorations, if need be    
Order extra trash receptacles  
Order extra recycling bins  

4 Weeks Prior

Confirm staff/volunteers for each aspect of the event  
Make parking and directional signs that can be created in-house    
Create welcome packets/materials for attendees    
Create script for yourself or for VIPs/presenters
  • Work with Patti Futrell for President Cabrera
  • For President and other VIPs, clearly mark each time they will speak with dividers in the script book
  • Request scripts from all participants with a talking role so you can create a complete script book and ensure that speakers are not redundant
  • President prefers top right corner to be crumpled, so the pages turn better
  • Include phonetic spellings for any individuals’ names that might be difficult to pronounce
Confirm all travel arrangements    
Confirm security needs and plan walk-through of site with them    
Coordinate with accounts payable and vendors on when payment will be received (in most cases, unless you purchase alcohol, after services are rendered)    
Schedule volunteer training    

1-2 Week(s) Prior

Follow-up with RSVP list – make personalized phone calls and emails, if necessary    
Send final numbers to the caterer    
Confirm participation with all VIPs/presenters. Send them updated event details, run of shows, and talking points.    
Set meeting to brief President, if applicable
  • Brief him on updated attendee list
Create seating plans and room diagrams for assistance with set-up and day-of-event questions
  • Ensure you follow correct protocol for head table seating
  • Create place cards for seated, if needed
  • Ensure you have back-up seating options available for changes within head table seating arrangements 
Develop photo shot list    
Hold pre-event meeting with all significant stakeholders (vendors, managers of venue, key committee members, and volunteers, etc.)    
Do one last walk-through of venue    
Hold training session with volunteers    
Ensure all printed materials/collateral are assembled and correct    
Make follow-up calls to media    
Make nametags/lanyards for attendees and have extra plain ones on hand for surprise guests
  • Suggest magnetic/reusable with clip tags for those who are unable to use magnetic
  • If disposable, suggest Avery 8395
  • Preferred template – Arial Bold, first name centered 54 pt; last name underneath in 48 pt
  • Create two nametags for name variations (i.e. Joseph and Joe)
  • Consider purchasing machine for onsite nametags
Create dietary cards
  • Place with nametags 
Create “Event Day Survival Kit” full of needed items: pens, sharpies, tape, scissors, etc.    
Create detailed hour-by-hour event agenda (event plan) for key volunteers/vendors and distribute to them    
Confirm set-up/breakdown with all vendors    
Send final information to participants, including directions, maps, last-minute details, etc.    
Create volunteer duty form    
Wrap gifts    
Distribute parking passes    
Send completed Run of Show and RSVP list within 72 hrs. of event to VIPs    

1-2 Days Prior

Create final to-do list to determine all tasks are complete    
Ensure all appropriate contacts’ information is listed where you can easily retrieve it
  • Recommend they are added to your phone for easy texting capabilities on event day
Purchase floral arrangements if not provided by vendor    
Recheck all equipment/materials to ensure nothing is damaged, quantity is correct, etc.    
Reconfirm schedule with caterer    
Set-up registration area, if possible, so you are prepared for the next day    
Decorate room if you can    
Display parking/directional signs    
Lay out clothes and needed materials (name badge, notebook, etc.)    
Pick up alcohol order or have it delivered    
Deliver materials/equipment to venue site    
Test live web broadcast    
Be prepared to troubleshoot changes day-of
  • e.g., bring along a three-hole punch so the President can input his revised script day-of, have extra chairs backstage in the event another VIP is asked to join the stage party, etc.
Discuss rain plan logistics    

Day of Event

Arrive early and do one last walk-through    
Oversee vendor set-up    
Ensure all VIP materials are correctly labeled and in place
  • Provide a program to President and VIPs so they know speaking order
  • Have additional scripts printed so speakers can review prior to their speaking role
Check all set-ups    
Ensure waters are in podium    

After the Event

Send thank you notes    
Handle invoices    
Hold post-event meeting with key players  
Send pictures/mementos to VIP guests    
Pack up and inventory all materials    
Update website    
Book next year’s venue, for annual event    
Complete survey of event or any product/service provided