Like every other event planner, you want to make sure your event runs smoothly. Luckily, a well-designed event agenda can help you do exactly that.
Below are my 13 tips on how to design the most effective agenda for your event. Because you have enough to worry about within the event planning process.
Before you plan out the event agenda, make sure you do the following:
- Identify who your target audience is
- Send attendees a survey ahead of the conference to gauge their interest
- Research presentation speakers that will resonate with your audience
- Research the venue to make sure your schedule can be accommodated
Once you have completed the above action items, make sure your event agenda includes the following:
- The goal of the event
- Information on each keynote speaker for participants to peruse
- Information on the venue for attendees
- A guest list to help participants network
- A schedule of all events, presentations, and sessions
- Space for transition times in between sessions
- A map of the venue for both speakers and attendees
- A session dedicated to a Q&A panel
What to do before creating your event agenda:
An event agenda is similar to a meeting agenda. But there are many different moving parts.
Start with these core principles before drafting your event agenda. Then, prepare the perfect agenda template to match these intentions.
#1. Identify your target audience
You can look at all the meeting agenda examples in the world. But none of them will mean anything until you’ve identified your target audience.
Your target audience will inform the flow of your event, not just the details of it. You might decide to have discussion panels scheduled rather than lecture-style sessions.
Or, if your target audience happens to be a bunch of night owls, you might push the agenda back a bit to accommodate them sleeping in.
Make sure you have a team meeting before the event not only to determine how many people you anticipate attending but also who those people are.
#2. Send attendees a survey to gauge their overall interest
It’s one thing to imagine your target audience as you develop your event agenda. It’s another thing to get their feedback directly.
If you’re struggling with how to plan out the event schedule, simply ask attendees ahead of time. Send out a survey gauging their interest in how many meetings they would attend in a day.
Let attendees be a part of the schedule-making. They may like being in on the discussion. Plus, you can begin to organize the event in a way that’s perfectly suited for your target audience.
#3. Research potential speakers
The speakers and master of ceremonies you have in your event schedule arguably make up the whole event. After all, they’re the ones welcoming attendees and offering them valuable tools and ideas throughout each meeting.
But as you research these potential candidates, I want you to keep one thing in mind: Can they make your attendees laugh?
It seems like a silly notion. But laughter and humor have been shown to reduce stress and positively impact short-term memory in adults.
I know that my role as a corporate emcee is to engage and entertain. But what many event organizers don’t realize is just how beneficial laughter can be for the entirety of the event.
#4. Research the venue
What’s something that most agendas inadvertently leave off? Where the meetings are set to happen!
As you begin planning with your team, be sure to include the venue stuff in this discussion. They’ll be able to tell you which ballrooms or conference rooms are available.
Your event planning agenda should include:
Now that you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to set this meeting agenda in motion! But what exactly should an effective agenda incorporate?
#5. The event goal
The goal of the event is what drives the entire event planning process. So why not include the event goal on the actual agenda?
Many organizers turn their event goals into a catchy slogan for the event as a whole. This way, they can list their core values just underneath the company logo on the agenda letterhead.
Anyone can use free templates to create their event agenda. But if you want the agenda itself to reflect the creative planning process that went into it, then go ahead and write your event goals at the top of the schedule itself.
It’ll do wonders to keep everyone on track as they look at the tasks ahead. Plus, the templates you use are now personalized to the success of your unique event.
#6. Important information on the event speakers
Every event planner knows just how much attendees love being given options. So as they decide which session to attend, give them a cheat sheet on who the speakers are and what they have to offer.
This is a great way to organize the agenda so it’s not just a rigid timetable. Now, you can add graphics and bios to speaker profiles and prepare the attendees for what’s in store.
#7. Information on the venue
If there were certain safety regulations discussed with the venue before the event, make sure to include that on your agenda form as well. This goes a long way with the venue itself.
They’re interested in keeping the site clean, safe, and friendly for your attendees. And by including these values on your agenda document, you’re demonstrating your commitment to these values as well.
You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve seen an event planner burn a bridge with a venue. So to mitigate this, go the extra mile to show the planning committee as well as the venue your commitment to developing a healthy professional relationship.
#8. A full guest list
When browsing through free templates of event agendas, you might not see a section that includes a full guest list. But this is a big mistake on the meeting templates’ part.
Offering a full list of attendees gives everyone the chance to see who they can possibly network with. While you’re busy planning every detail of the event, there are certain things you can’t plan.
For example, many people come to these meetings for the sake of networking alone. So as you develop your agenda, be aware that attendees will also have their own intentions in mind.
#9. A schedule of the events with their allotted time
Maybe this one goes without saying. But your planning template should definitely include a timetable of the various meetings and events going on.
Isn’t that what the whole agenda is for?! Make sure each meeting has its time and location highlighted for attendees.
You never know when someone will be dashing into a meeting last minute, glancing only partially at their agenda for the specific information they need. So make it as clear as day!
#10. Allow enough transition time between events
As you prepare the agenda, make sure to factor in breaks between meetings in your template. Many templates forget to factor in travel time between meeting locations.
It’s the same way an emcee has to transition between speakers. Those transitions should feel seamless.
So give your attendees a chance to keep up with all the exciting events going on.
#11. Create a map of the venue to track locations
To better enhance the attendee experience, create a map of the venue so attendees know exactly where to go for each meeting. This also allows you to have some fun with graphics on your scheduling templates too.
#12. Include a Q&A session in the event agenda
You can take this or leave it. But I have always found a Q&A session to be particularly beneficial to any event.
This gives attendees the chance to ask their most burning questions. Plus, it helps to develop a rapport between the speaker and the audience member.
#13. Incorporate breaks into the event agenda
Lastly, remember to include breaks in all of your meeting templates. It’s easy to forget that folks need time to stretch in between events.
Always place yourself in the attendees’ shoes when developing the event agenda. That way, you can more easily recognize what makes sense and what doesn’t.
There are dozens of meeting templates out there simply because there’s no one-size-fits-all agenda. So as you develop the schedule of events, remember to make the experience as customizable as possible.
This way, attendees feel like they’re being well-cared for. And you can give them the best experience possible.
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Keep Reading: 9 Things To Expect From Your Event Staff
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.