Event planning checklist: tracking and timelines

Size matters when it comes to planning events.

The consensus among administrative assistants is that for smaller events, you can go solo.

But for larger ones, it takes a committee, a nod from management and a zinger of a spreadsheet for keeping tasks and timelines on track.

According to one assistant, Amanda, the benefits of working with a committee are two-fold: “I used to do the big stuff by myself, but it was too much work. Plus, when you get a few viewpoints, you often come up with ideas you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.”

Establish budget

  • Expenses (create separate line items for speaker fees, entertainment, meals, beverages, etc.)
  • Income (create separate line items for registration fees, contributions, other financing)

Establish meeting content

  • Programs
  • Speakers and presenters
  • Entertainment
  • Tentative agenda

Select venue if off-site

  • Establish venue contact person
  • Tax-exempt certificates if applicable
  • Meeting rooms (create separate line items for square feet needed, lighting, desired amenities)
  • Specify ADA accessibility needs
  • Accessibility/local transportation
  • Parking: free or rate
  • Appearance: Rate inside from 1-5 (with 5=best) and outside from 1-5
  • Business services available (fax, voice mail, etc.)
  • Renovations planned during event
  • Other events at the venue during event

Food and beverage

HR Forms D
  • In-house or outside catering
  • Caterer contact information
  • Format of each meal
  • Select menus
  • Special dietary needs
  • Obtain menu costs
  • Establish ticket system for meals and beverages
  • Additional service personnel


  • Decorations
  • Plates and flatware
  • Napkins
  • Tablecloth
  • Glasses or cups


  • Table arrangements
  • Flip charts, pens, etc.
  • Audio-visual needs (LCD projectors, laptop, DVD player, etc.)
  • Audio-visual contact information
  • Presentations sent to AV person in advance?
  • Signage and decorations


  • Determine security requirements for VIPs, meals and outside functions
  • Medical emergency plan
  • Names and phone numbers for local police, fire departments and hospitals


  • Airport greetings
  • VIP protocol
  • Host committees
  • Welcoming ceremony
  • Name tags


  • Budget tracking system
  • Master account billing
  • Individual billing
  • Gratuities
  • Final billing
  • Budget vs. actual expenses recap