Tech Conference Checklist

I am currently planning for this year’s DevFest (community-run developer event focused on community building and learning about Google’s technologies). Last year, I only had 6 weeks to plan DevFest San Francisco 2016 and I luckily documented many of the tasks. I decided to be kind to my future self and create a checklist and since I’m all about knowledge sharing, below is a checklist of things that you may want to do when you organize your next tech conference — I suggest start planning 8 months before your event (especially if its your first time), but all of these items can be done within a shorter time span:

10+ months

  • Figure out roughly what you want to do – Talking Sessions, Code labs, Hackathons, etc, how many people you are thinking of attending

8 – 10 months

  • Assemble your team! Ask people who you know have great work ethic and who have the time and energy, especially 3 months before the conference
    • make sure to have a small, solid few – there is no point of having too many cooks in the kitchen because nothing gets decided
  • Have a code of conduct*
  • Create and maintain a budget!
  • Select a few dates and possible venues
    • secure this as soon as possible
    • some venues will need security and/or insurance
    • Make sure access to rooms, bathrooms and where food will be distributed for people with a variety of mobility*
    • Get extra space to have childcare options for your participates and speakers*
  • Start designing a logo or contract someone to make it
  • Start asking people to be speakers (make a google form to summit proposals)
    • Create a google form for proposals
    • Send out the speaker proposal form
    • Review the proposals as they come in
    • Divided the proposals into different groups:
      • Defiantly Yes
      • Maybe
      • Outside the scope/Nope
    • Send back response ideally within a week of speaker proposal submission
  • Make your website with information about the goal/purpose of the event, whoever you have for speakers as well as the date/location
    • don’t worry about not having all the information, its better to share what you have versus being quite.
  • Create a mock/tentative schedule so potential partners/speakers/sponsors can get a sense of what you are trying to do
  • Review speaker proposal and response

6 – 7 months

  • Make a Company Sponsorship levels and letter
    • Large Levels
      • Offering sponsor table space, logos on shirts and websites, etc.
    • Mini Levels
      • sponsor coffee, provide snacks, breakfast
    • Example of Sponsorship Levels
  • Start asking companies for sponsorships
  • Make another call for speakers/proposals
  • Contact rental companies if you need to rent anything for the event, such as chairs, tables and AV equipment.
  • Start getting quote on:
    • Breakfast
    • Coffee
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • Dietary Restrictions:
      • Vegetarian
      • Vegan
      • Gluten Free
      • Raw
  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have
  • Review speaker proposal and response
  • Create a Code of Conduct team (to make sure that accessibility, openness and community are highlighted) *
    • Hotline for reporting any issues
    • Day of point person

4 – 5 months

  • Create the avenue of purchasing tickets (eventbrite, etc.)
  • Start finalizing speakers and publish a tentative schedule
  • Send out social media campaigns to create awareness:
    • create a consistent message including a special hashtag
    • twitter
    • facebook
    • blog post
    • linkedin
    • Instagram
  • Create events on social media platforms that point to purchasing tickets (ie. Facebook event)
  • Make another call for speakers/proposals (list out who is already signed up)
  • send out a call to volunteer (this is a great opportunity for individuals who cannot pay for the event, to volunteer and get in for free)
    • some volunteer task for the day of:
      • registration
      • set up (tables, chairs, etc.)
      • handing out give aways
      • set up breakfast/coffee
      • give out lunch
      • be runners for time reminders for scheduling
      • running childcare*
  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have
  • Review speaker proposal and response accordingly

3 months before

  • Create a map of the layout and where speakers/tracks will be located
    • Mark out where the restrooms, lunch area, coffee area, after party are located
  • Buy thank you gift for speakers, volunteers
    • Possible ideas for gifts: fun mugs with tea, spa gift card, coffee gift card, nice journal, etc.
  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have
  • Email the speakers a thank you and reminder that the event is in 3 months along with any time expectations
  • Review speaker proposal and response
  • Gets quotes for shirts and order
  • Send speakers and  volunteer codes so they can register for the event

2 months before

  • Make another call for volunteers
  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have
  • Email the speakers with any updates of the event

1 month before

  • Email volunteers with a tentative schedule
  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have
  • Email the speakers a tentative schedule and what to expect the day of
    • what type of AV equipment they will have
    • where to go 10 – 15 mins before their talk

2 weeks before

  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have

1 week before

  • Print large maps (that have 4 orientations) to put up in the area
  • Update the website with whatever material(s) you have
  • Meet with your team and volunteers to go over the schedule and final task

2 – 3 days before

  • Print name tags
  • Print schedules

Day Before

  • Pack vehicle with items needed
  • Rest!

Day of

  • Lots of juggling with your team for your amazing event! cartoon star rabbit cloud juggling GIF

1 – 7 Days After Event

  • Debrief with team
  • Document all the things
  • Thank speakers and sponsor


* Suggestions from HBCompass

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