Large Conference project plan - FREE download in MS Project

This is an example of a project schedule for organising a large conference. These events are a lot of work, delegates, speakers and venues are actually just a part of what you need to think about. Luckily, this schedule was developed over several years of running large conferences in various cities and venues. Because we know conferences are complicated we have made sure all key activities are covered including:
  • Start-up
  • Initiation and PID
  • Venue procurement
  • AV provider procurement
  • Speakers invited
  • Marketing, press and online presence
  • Supplier stands
  • Delegate management and conference scheduling
  • Audio visual
  • Conference materials
  • Conference support
  • What to do the day before
  • What to do on the day
  • Close down and evaluation
You can download your template for FREE here.
detail snapshot of a project plan for a workshop or one day event

About this project

The Project Team for this conference consisted of the Project Sponsor, a Project Manager, Event Coordinator, Event Administrator, Conference Administrators, and 3rd party suppliers e.g. an Audio Visual (AV Company). The conference was one deliverable in a large project so the Project Manager delegated most responsibility to the Event Coordinator. On your project it might be that the tasks assigned to the Project Manager are more appropriate for an Event Manager or Line Manager role.

This event used a preferred list of venues which had been already been visited by the event manager and passed certain quality standards. They had also pre-agreed preferential rates. All catering was provided by the venue and some parking was available nearby. A separate AV company was used as venue AV equipment is often out-dated and there is rarely anybody with the technical skills to help set up the system.

Depending on the venue you use you may be able to assume some things as standard for example: table clothes, water and glasses, and signage. However, bear in mind that some venues may just be offering room hire. Use the list below to checklist below to be sure you don’t get caught out:

Does the venue provide as standard?

  • Tables and chairs with a top table
  • Table coverings
  • A choice of table types e.g. rectangle and circular tables
  • Water and glasses
  • Tea, coffee and juice and glasses
  • A service to bring tea, coffee, water etc. into the room
  • Catering – lunch and dinner
  • Accommodation
  • Parking
  • Somewhere to store materials
  • A contact on day for example to adjust air conditioning, check lunch timings
  • AV equipment – radio mic, projector, projector screen, leads, plug sockets, extension leads
  • Photocopying, faxing, use of a computer, use of a telephone
  • Signage
  • A reception desk (as a hotel would)
  • An area where registration can take place
  • Toilets (let’s hope so, but you can’t assume)
  • Guidance in the event of a fire alarm or other emergency (if not you will need to make sure someone is up to speed on this)

What is in the .zip file

The schedule and user guide are in a compressed .zip file. Once you have downloaded and 'unzipped' the file. You will see these docs:
  • Project template user guide (PDF)
  • Large 1 day conference (Word) - notes on the project
  • Large-Conference (Microsoft Project Document)
  • Large-Conference-PDF (PDF)
  • Large-Conference (Excel)
  • Large-Conference-MSP-version-2000-2003 (Microsoft Project 2000 - 2003)
  • Large-Conference-MSP-version-2010 (Microsoft Project 2010)

Using this template with Microsoft Project online

These templates work with Microsoft Project's cloud solution - Project Online. Simply click New project and select Import.

Tailoring your template for your project

Warning - you need to tailor these plans to your project. The user guide in the zip file with your plan, explains how to add, remove and edit tasks and takes you through the things you need to check step-by-step.

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List of tasks

1 day meeting or workshop (20 - 30 delegates)
   Start up
      Event Brief written (includes prospective presenters, and event date)
      Project Brief signed off
      Authorisation to proceed into Initiation
      Event Sponsor writes presenter invite email with event brief
      Send out feelers to possible presenters (if internal check diaries of presenters)
      Check for other corporate events on event date, send out feelers to venues re availability
      Event specification 
         Event specification (suggested presenters, draft agenda, room layout, numbers, accommodation, catering etc)
         Event Communication Plan
         Event Roles and Responsibilities
         Event specification signed-off
      Event project plan written
      Event project plan signed off
      Resources booked (Event Coordinator and Admin support for the day, if not event coordinator)
      Set up Event Email address
      Create registration form template for online and paper version
      Venue procurement
         Venues selected from preferred list
         Event specification sent to venues
         Quotes received from venues
         Venues shortlisted
         Venue selected
         Purchase Orders completed and submitted to suppliers
      AV provider procurement
         Suppliers identified
         Suppliers sent product specifications and key delivery dates
         Quotes received from suppliers
         Suppliers shortlisted
         Suppliers selected
         Purchase Orders completed and submitted to suppliers
      Presenters identified (internal and some external)
         All presenters identified (including Chair)
         Presenters sent event brief
         Availability received from presenters (assume no fees)
         Presenters confirmed
         Meeting details sent to presenters along with request for AV and dietary requirements
      Delegate management & Event scheduling
         Check online registration process
         Prepare/check Acknowledgement & Acceptance emails
         Issue invites to email lists
         Monitor registrations, enter fax and paper requests 
         Registration deadline
         Send out 'last chance' email and update message on website
         Monitor registrations, enter fax and paper requests
         Update venue on predicted numbers
      Finalise agenda
         Review draft agenda and finalise
         Post final agenda to website
         Update venue on agenda confirm
         Check on travel sites for any delays/planned works if necessary include details in final info for speakers and delegates
         Send any final information to delegates as required
      Finalise AV requirements
         Complete AV schedule
         Confirm agenda and support with AV company
      Presentations prepared
         Slides written
         Slides to Event Sponsor for review
         Review slides
         Amends to slides
         Slides to Event Coordinator
         Collate slides onto data key and laptop
         Review complete slides, check animations, video and spelling
         Send whole deck to Event Sponsor as back up
      Event pack
         Order badges & folders
         Order pens and Event stationary
         Create evaluation sheet
         Collate info for packs - poster, handouts, slide printouts, pre-reading
         Send instructions, print numbers and materials to collation house
         Printing and collation
         Courier packs to venue
      Final preparation (day before)
         Check delivery of Event packs
         Update delegate list and send to sponsor & Event support
         Call venue check contact details for day and timings
         Call AV company and check name of tech support on day and arrival time
      On the day before delegate arrival
         Event start
         Check Event packs
         Set up registrations
         Set up AV
         Set up laptop and presentation, check slides and slide transition
         Check signage
         Meet venue Event manager, check timings, fire drills etc.
         Check tea and coffee ready (have a cup of tea)
         Welcome presenters and delegates
         Start the day!
      At end of the day
         Collect evaluations
         Collect any left stationary and confidential items
         Check for lost items
      Collate evaluations
      Pay invoices
      Review expenditure against budget
      Check on progress of write up and reviews
      Write Event report
      Post project review meeting
      Write lesson learned report