Corporate event planning guide (+ checklists)
Last updated on: March 17, 2023
Corporate events are an excellent opportunity for employer branding and engaging with employees or clients.
If you are new to the HR or marketing department and are looking for an ultimate corporate event planning checklist — you are at the right place.
In this article, we will explain corporate event planning and identify the most common types of corporate events.
Moreover, we will provide a list of steps you should take when planning your event and ready-made checklists you can use for small, medium, and large corporate events.
Let’s get started.
What is corporate event planning?
Simply put, a corporate event is an event that a company organizes and funds that focuses on employees or clients.
Regardless of its size, if you want an event to go smoothly, you must plan it carefully, considering all the details and possible pitfalls.
The bigger the event is, the more steps it requires and the more time it consumes.
So, you need to focus your energy on the corporate event planning process — and be clear on your objectives.
Typical corporate event objectives
Corporate events can vary from internal workshops and team buildings to large-scale conferences.
Here are some reasons for holding corporate events:
- To celebrate milestones along with clients and employees,
- To mark a significant organizational change within the company,
- To promote team bonding, or
- To build brand awareness and position a company as the industry leader.
Obviously, you need to know what you want to achieve with your event.
For instance, you may want to:
- Reward your employees,
- Build brand awareness,
- Launch a new product, or
- Promote a new service.
Planning, promoting, and adhering to your budget becomes much easier when you have clearly defined goals and objectives.
Identifying what you want to accomplish will help you:
- Set goals,
- Choose proper metrics for tracking results, and
- Determine your target audience.
S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives for corporate event planning
Your goal formulation should follow the S.M.A.R.T. criteria.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific: Determine what you want to achieve, leaving no room for guesses.
- Measurable: Specify how you will measure it.
- Attainable: Ensure your objective is realistic and possible to achieve.
- Relevant: Make sure your objective is relevant to your company.
- Time-bound: Determine a target date.
When setting objectives, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it S.M.A.R.T.?
- Does it relate to a single outcome?
- Is it clear?
Let’s tackle the difference between goals and objectives.
Simply put, objectives are specific actions you take to accomplish a goal.
A goal is a broad, long-term outcome, while an objective is a step you take to get where you want to go.
Goals and objectives work together. If you set goals without precise objectives, you are at risk of not achieving your goals.
For example, a S.M.A.R.T. objective for the goal related to increasing the number of conference participants may be the following:
Increase the number of attendees from outside of California by 15% compared to last year.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
Read more about S.M.A.R.T. goal setting in our guide:
Types of corporate events
There is no ultimate list of corporate events that can apply to all businesses.
Depending on your budget and the goal you want to achieve, you may organize some of the following types of events:
- Internal training,
- Trade shows,
- Product launches, and
- Board and stakeholder meetings.
Let’s briefly describe what each type entails.
Conferences are large corporate events with an excellent opportunity for business networking.
They usually last a few days, have a central theme, and multiple sessions.
Conferences are commonly held in a conference room, conference hall, or meeting room. They tend to have multiple speakers and sessions across several spaces within one or more venues.
Organizing a conference is an excellent opportunity to raise brand awareness and position your company as an industry expert.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about conferences|
|Size of event:||Large|
|Ideal for:||– Networking Increasing brand awareness |
– Positioning the company as an industry expert
As its name suggests, internal training is an internal event.
It is usually a small event intended to improve its participants’ skills.
Internal training can be organized both online and offline.
For instance, your employees may host presentations on the topics from their field of expertise to pass their knowledge on to new team members.
Here are some examples:
- Your CTO can make a presentation on how the software development team built an app following best practices.
- A cybersecurity officer can talk about best practices for cybersecurity.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about internal training|
|Size of event:||Small|
|Ideal for:||Sharing expertise across departments|
Workshops are educational events for a small group of people that focus on improving techniques and skills in a particular field.
You can organize them internally or hire experts from outside of the company.
For instance, your HR team can organize a workshop on improving resilience.
Moreover, you can organize workshops for an external audience in order to position yourself as an industry leader.
For example, your software development team can hold a one-day workshop for software engineering students in order to attract talent to apply for open positions at your company.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about workshops|
|Size of event:||Small|
|Ideal for:||– Improving techniques and skills in a particular field |
– Positioning the company as an industry leader
Seminars are short corporate events with an educational purpose.
They usually last for a few hours or a day and gather professionals to discuss specific business topics and provide opportunities for learning and collaboration.
Unlike conferences, seminars usually have a single speaker or a few speakers.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about seminars|
|Size of event:||Small to medium size|
|Ideal for:||Improving techniques and skills in a particular field|
Trade shows are large corporate events held in big spaces and planned a lot in advance.
They bring a large number of businesses together to showcase, display, and demonstrate their latest products and services.
Companies usually attend trade shows to build brand awareness, promote their business, and generate more leads.
Other advantages of attending trade shows include networking with other professionals and interacting with the media.
Moreover, companies can be sponsors or host trade shows and establish themselves as industry leaders.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about trade shows|
|Size of event:||Large|
|Ideal for:||– Building brand awareness |
– Business promotion
– Lead generation
A product launch is a type of corporate event most common for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.
The scale of the event can range from small internal meetings that gather employees to announce upcoming products to large launch parties with external guests and media presence.
The aim of this type of event is to create a buzz around an upcoming product.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about product launches|
|Size of event:||Small to large|
|Ideal for:||– Promoting upcoming products |
– Business promotion
Board and shareholder meetings
Board and stakeholder meetings can range from small internal gatherings to large business events.
The frequency of these types of corporate events depends on:
- Company’s maturity,
- Level of change in the business and the market, and
- Other factors relevant to organizations.
Board meetings serve board members to review business performance, meet with company executives, and discuss important decisions.
Shareholder meetings are an opportunity for a company to share business performance, future goals, and business strategies with shareholders.
|Event traits||Key takeaways about board meetings and shareholder meetings|
|Size:||Small to large|
|Ideal for:||– Reviewing and sharing business performance |
– Sharing future goals and business strategies
11 steps to take to plan a successful corporate event (+ event planning template)
Planning is never easy.
To help you overcome the feeling of overwhelm, we listed eleven steps you can take when planning your corporate events.
Here are a few tips to take care of before organizing a corporate event:
- Understand the event’s purpose,
- Identify the target audience,
- Set the date,
- Identify the number of attendees,
- Determine the budget,
- Plan the event theme and format,
- Choose a proper location,
- Arrange event logistics,
- Promote your event,
- Track all actions in project management software, and
- Follow-up after the event.
Event planning step #1: Understand the event’s purpose
First, you must identify what you want to accomplish with your event.
To determine it seamlessly, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What will the corporate event be about?
- What are the goals and objectives you want to meet?
- Why do you want to host the event?
- What are the expectations from it?
- What’s the intended outcome of this event?
- How will you measure the success of the event?
The goal is to organize a meaningful corporate event that resonates with your audience.
Therefore, you should keep your audience’s expectations and needs in mind and organize your event in a manner that will meet these needs.
Knowing what you want to achieve will help you prepare every detail and run an event smoothly — whether it is a conference, a team building event, or a shareholder meeting.
Event planning step #2: Identify your target audience
Figuring out your target audience is a critical step to a successful event.
To take it, you should get answers to the following questions:
- Are you organizing the event for an internal or external audience?
- How many guests do you expect?
- Are you going to sell the tickets or will the entrance be free?
Defining your attendees’ persona profile also comes in handy.
The attendee persona is a fictional character that represents your attendees.
Using attendee personas can help you understand what motivates people to visit your event and provide valuable insight into what they want to experience.
Some typical characteristics used in event marketing include:
- Gender (if appropriate),
- Location, and
- Technological knowledge.
When planning corporate events, you may also think of:
- Business experience and industry interests,
- Favorite parts of attending your event, and
- Questions or concerns experienced at work that fit with the event theme.
Moreover, a persona should include preferences and needs for events and the most frequent sources of information and influence.
Event planning step #3: Set the date
Setting the date and time is one of the most important steps in planning an event.
For example, if you hold a conference, make sure tickets are available at least six months before the event.
Or, you can set the date a few weeks prior for smaller events, like company parties and workshops.
Event planning step #4: Identify the number of attendees
Unlimited space is rarely an option. Knowing the number of guests is critical for managing expenses and preparing all aspects of an event.
Therefore, creating an accurate guest list is a step you do not want to miss.
How to ensure the guest list is accurate?
For instance, if you’re organizing a company birthday party, you must know the number of employees who will attend and how many external guests will participate in the celebration.
You need this information to prepare promotional material, food, drinks, or anything else the guests may need.
To do so, you should send invitations via email and specify the latest date for attendance confirmation.
Suppose your event also involves the sale of tickets. In that case, you should determine the number of available tickets and the latest purchase date.
Event planning step #5: Determine the budget
Whether you organize a small internal gathering or a large conference, you must identify expenses and set a realistic budget.
It will help you allocate resources for planned activities and prevent going over the budget you have at your disposal.
Simply put, you must know how much money you have to work with to determine the type and scale of your event.
To set a proper budget, you may go back to similar past events and gather information on how much money you spent on them.
You should consider all potential expenses, such as:
- Venue rental costs,
- Transportation costs (e.g. guest speakers, sponsors, VIP guests, etc.),
- Waiting staff,
- Speakers, and
- All other possible expenses, bearing in mind the type of event.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
To set your budget seamlessly, check our guide:
Event planning step #6: Plan the event theme and format
As events are experiences, theme and format play a significant role in creating a memorable experience for the audience.
Therefore, you should choose the most suitable format for presenting your intended message.
For instance, if you organize a large IT conference, an interactive presentation and the use of the latest technology solutions are always desirable.
Organizing an event with industry experts and your CTOs as speakers can help your company raise brand awareness. Think of what may be entertaining for your audience and how to make the conference more interactive. No one wants to only sit and listen to long lectures.
The key to a successful event lies in determining what can distinguish your event from similar ones in your industry and make your event unforgettable.
Event planning step #7: Choose a proper location
Pick a venue according to the type and size of your event. You should also answer the following questions:
- How easily will guests be able to get to your event?
- Are food and beverage options available at the location, or do you need external caterers?
- Is technical infrastructure suitable for your event? (Wi-Fi availability, technical support, live-streaming capabilities, and other options you may need)
- What is the overall capacity of the venue?
- What is the seating capacity of the venue?
- How does the venue adhere to safety guidelines?
So, list all the potential event venues, contact and visit them, and book the one that suits your needs the best.
Event planning step #8: Arrange event logistics
After choosing the venue, you should plan the logistics. Here is what you should pay attention on:
- Event’s agenda
- Event registration desk
- Promotional material
- Security personnel
- Accommodation for guest speakers or all event participants (in case of large events that last for more than one day, such as conferences)
- Presentation technology such as projectors, laptops, mics, screens, video equipment, and other equipment you may need for the event.
Make sure to communicate responsibilities and requirements clearly, so everyone on your team knows what is expected from them.
Event planning step #9: Promote your event
For smaller, internal events, such as workshops or an office Halloween party, it is usually just fine to send invitations via email and request an attendance confirmation.
Another option can be to inform your employees by posting on a #general team chat app channel and asking them to answer in a thread if they’ll come.
When it comes to larger events, such as conferences or trade shows, you cannot just send out invitations and wait for registrations. You must create a buzz around the event.
For this purpose, you can:
- Create an event website where people can register and get more info about the conference and speakers or, at least, a new landing page on your existing website,
- Explore possible sponsorship opportunities,
- Announce the event on your social media accounts,
- Reach out to media outlets,
- Participate in podcasts relevant to your audience,
- Send newsletters to your clients and anyone else who agreed to receive your promotional offers,
- Prepare promo videos, and
- Write guest blog posts.
Event planning step #10: Track all actions in project management software
Using a centralized platform to manage all actions needed to prepare a corporate event can save you time and mitigate the possibility of forgetting something critical.
One such centralized platform you can use is Plaky, a free project management tool available for an unlimited number of users and projects.
You can personalize your boards by adding all the details you need for planning an event.
What’s more — you don’t have to start from scratch.
Plaky offers a free event planning template for event managers who want to simplify event organization, planning, and tracking.
The template contains:
- Group of items — group together actions your team should take,
- Person column — pinpoint reviewers for specific tasks,
- Status column with customized labels — see at a glance if everything goes according to plan,
- Date column — specify a due date or time period for all the actions,
- Tag column — use tags to indicate the main topics covered by a task or project,
- Number column — list all expenses and set the budget, and
- Rich text column — add anything else important for your event.
You can easily track progress by using the status column.
Moreover, by using this template, you can view all vendors at a glance.
You can also add tags to specify which departments work on particular parts of the organization process.
As you can see — you can adjust this template and make it suitable for any type of event you organize.
Event planning step #11: Follow-up after the event
After the event, send follow-up emails to thank all guests and participants.
To check their satisfaction, ask them to fill out an anonymous survey. The feedback you get from such a survey will help you improve upcoming events.
Corporate event planning checklists
Finally, it’s time to start planning a corporate event of your choice. To save you time, we have prepared free checklist templates you can download and use whenever you need them.
Depending on the event’s size, you can choose from one of the following:
- Small corporate event checklist, and
- Medium to large corporate event checklist.
Small corporate event checklist
Small corporate events usually have up to 50 attendees.
Let’s take a look at a checklist incorporating the steps you should take to organize them:
|Small corporate event checklist||Status|
|Step 1: Choose the event type||✅|
|Step 2: Set goals and objectives||✅|
|Step 3: Determine the target attendance||✅|
|Step 4: Set the date||✅|
|Step 5: Choose the location||✅|
|Step 6: Estimate costs||✅|
|Step 7: Set the budget||✅|
|Step 8: Book the venue (if needed)||✅|
|Step 9: Plan the event theme and format||✅|
|Step 10: Secure speakers or lecturers||✅|
|Step 11: Prepare promotional material||✅|
|Step 12: Organize decorations||✅|
|Step 13: Choose the catering service||✅|
|Step 14: Send invitations and ask for confirmation of attendance||✅|
|Step 15: Promote the event on your website and on social media (if it is not an internal event with your employees only)||✅|
|Step 16: Double-check the audio and video equipment and wifi connection at the event’s location||✅|
|Step 17: Send follow-up emails to attendees and ask for their feedback||✅|
🔽 Download a small corporate event checklist template.
Medium and large corporate events checklist
Medium-size corporate events usually have somewhere between 51 and 200 attendees, while large corporate events exceed the number of 200 people.
Let’s see what you need to ensure they go smoothly:
|Medium and large corporate events checklist||Status|
|Step 1: Choose the event type||✅|
|Step 2: Set goals and objectives||✅|
|Step 3: Determine the target attendance||✅|
|Step 4: Set the date||✅|
|Step 5: Choose the venue||✅|
|Step 6: Check the parking availability||✅|
|Step 7: Check if the venue provides food and beverage or if you need to hire external catering||✅|
|Step 8: Book external catering, if necessary||✅|
|Step 9: Plan the event’s theme and format||✅|
|Step 10: Estimate expenses||✅|
|Step 11: Set the budget||✅|
|Step 12: Reach out to potential speakers||✅|
|Step 13: Recruit staff||✅|
|Step 14: Finalize and sign contracts with speakers||✅|
|Step 15: Prepare a draft of the event schedule||✅|
|Step 16: Reach out to sponsors and confirm their sponsorship||✅|
|Step 17: Plan menus for meals and refreshments||✅|
|Step 18: Arrange transportation and hotel accommodation for guest speakers||✅|
|Step 19: Finalize the event schedule||✅|
|Step 20: Gather your speaker bios, headshots, and anything else needed||✅|
|Step 21: Create an event page or a dedicated website||✅|
|Step 22: Set up online registration and ticketing||✅|
|Step 23: Gather logos from your sponsors||✅|
|Step 24: Make a promo video||✅|
|Step 25: Prepare promotional material||✅|
|Step 26: Reach out to media outlets to promote the event||✅|
|Step 27: Promote your event on social media||✅|
|Step 28: Confirm the final number of participants||✅|
|Step 29: Finalize seating plan and accreditations||✅|
|Step 30: Double-check speaker content||✅|
|Step 31: Provide the final number of participants to your staff and caterer||✅|
|Step 32: Invite the media to your event||✅|
|Step 33: Test equipment to ensure everything works as expected||✅|
|Step 34: Send thank-you emails and post-event surveys to speakers and attendees.||✅|
You don’t have to create a new checklist — once again, we have an editable template for you.
🔽 Download medium to large corporate event checklist template.
Ready-made templates come in handy to organize your tasks.
However, we recommend using project management software, as you can easily share your board with all relevant people and keep sponsors informed about every change without the need to send them emails.
Wrapping up: Event planning checklists will save you time and prevent headaches
Organizing an event is always a challenge. There are many details to consider, and it takes a lot of time and preparation.
However, it does not have to be a type of experience you want to pass on to someone else.
To make the process of organizing a corporate event as smooth as it could be, use one of the free corporate event planning checklists we provided, or opt for project management software and enjoy having all the information you need in one place.
✉️ What are the biggest challenges when planning a corporate event? Do you use checklists for event planning? What do you like the most about it?
Let us know at email@example.com, and we may include your answers in this or future posts.