A year to four months before the event 

  • Set objectives for the event.
  • Prepare a budget for the event and decide whether the event is to be free or charged-for.
  • Consider the date of the event alongside the audience type (or in conjunction with):
    • avoid religious days, school and university holidays; Mondays or Fridays if inviting MPs; and speak to the ESRC to ensure that the event does not clash with any other event which could attract the same audience.
    • the dates of the event may need to be fixed around the key speaker.
  • Draft the programme. 
  • Approach and confirm speakers – inform them of the proposed date of event and content of the programme. Do this before confirming the date of the event. 
  • Send the speakers' a requirements form and a letter of confirmation.. 
  • Approach and confirm the chairperson. 
  • Book a conference organising company to handle all or some of the event management (if required). 
  • Consider the room layout (for example theatre-style, cabaret-style). 
  • Find a suitable venue, bearing in mind location, accessibility, room style and number of breakout rooms required. See the section choosing a venue.
  • Decide on the backdrop required for the main conference room and breakout rooms. This should include your branding and the ESRC logo. 
  • Prepare a delegate booking and registration system. 
  • Begin to collate information on speakers to include short biographies and head and shoulder photographs.
  • Identify your audio visual requirements - for example, will you be using PowerPoint, video or do you need to record the presentations? If appropriate, book an audio visual company and give them the draft programme. If you're using a conference organiser, they can do this for you. 
  • Liaise with the venue regarding bookings and confirm arrangements. 
  • Provisionally book hotel accommodation for speakers and delegates who have to travel from far away (if required). 
  • Liaise with ESRC or marketing company about promoting the event.

Three months before the event

  • Find out the speakers' audio visual requirements and inform the audio visual company. Decide whether you will need a roving microphone and other top table microphones. 
  • Send the finalised programme to print, including the delegate booking form. 
  • Develop a large database of potential delegates (approximately ten times the number of delegate places you have). For further guidance, see the section on liaising with delegates
  • Finalise marketing for the event, including leaflets, email alerts and information on the website. 
  • Send out marketing literature in 'waves'. Invite the most important delegates first. 
  • Provisionally book sign language interpreters/lip speakers if you know they may be required by any of the delegates.
  • Book a transcription service or video streaming service if required.
  • Decide if you will be having a post-conference report – you may need to ask speakers to supply their presentations or papers in advance.

Two months before the event

  • Review the budget to ensure it is on course.
  • Confirm technical requirements and equipment with the venue (for example flipcharts, overhead projectors, PowerPoint).
  • Liaise with the caterers.
  • Draft a list of the equipment you want to be couriered to the event on the day.
  • Check with the venue the earliest date you are able to send equipment by courier. Some larger venues will provide labels and send strict instructions to adhere to. Including when and where items will be stored prior to, and after the event.
  • Assess the response to the first wave of marketing literature and send to a second wave of potential delegates, if necessary. 
  • Begin compiling a list of delegates and any special requirements they may have. 
  • Confirm the need for sign language interpreters or lip speakers.