In the past, event planning timelines were relatively straightforward. You started planning in January for your July event. Now that the pandemic has altered our lives, we have to plan for things to change with little notice.
A virtual event timeline is a tool that you can use to stay ahead of what's going on in your life and keep you from being caught off guard by unexpected events or tasks that need your attention.
It allows you to see how long each task will take so you can make sure everything gets done on time--or at least moved up if it looks like there may be delays or setbacks along the way.
Take a look at the timeline below and use it as a reference guide when planning your next virtual event!
Three months out
Now you've got a date for your event, it's time to get down to business. Before you can start planning everything else, you'll need to decide on the following:
- Budget. It's always best to know how much money your company or organization has available for this sort of thing! Especially if you're going to run ads to market the event.
- Theme/content. This is what will make your event unique and fun, so don't skimp here! (We recommend thinking about themes that are related in some way.)
- How and when you'll promote the event—and where? We've found social media works best because people are already on those platforms anyway! You should also make use of your email list so that you can begin campaigning about the upcoming event.
Seven weeks out
- Decide on a date and time. Your virtual event may be scheduled in advance or at a specific time, but it’s best to have the schedule of your virtual event written out and published before you begin promoting the event. This will help avoid confusion later on.
- Start planning your virtual event. If you don’t already have one, now is the time to start planning everything from promotional materials (such as emails) to guest speakers, catering services, and more! Take note of all details so they can be included in promotional emails that go out seven weeks prior to the actual day of your virtual event.
- Begin promoting your virtual event so people can register for it early via email marketing campaigns with information about what will happen during each session—and maybe even include some fun giveaways!
Five weeks out
- event name
- event date
- speaker list
- hosting platform
- streaming options
- registration details
- Create a social media strategy. This will also help you decide which platform to use for your virtual event, since some platforms are better suited for live streaming than others. In this case, Facebook Live is going to be your best bet; it’s easy to use and has a large audience (1 billion daily active users).
If you want to try something different from live video broadcasting, consider using Instagram Stories and encourage people to take action by clicking the link in your bio (or add the link right onto the story), plus you can encourage them to reply with any questions, share the story, or you can even take a poll to see what people would love included in the event.
Four weeks out
So now, let's talk about what needs to happen four weeks out from your virtual event:
- You should set up a landing/information page for your virtual event so that people know where they need to go (and when).
- Send out email invitations with all relevant information about how their registration will work and what type of payment methods are accepted (if applicable).
- Finalize collecting headshots and bios from speakers
- Finalize the registration page
Three weeks before your virtual event
Now that you have a game plan, it's time to get your ducks in a row. For starters, make sure you have everything you need for the event. You'll want to go through the checklist and confirm that all items are accounted for. Now it's time to:
- Share event agenda
- Begin promotions and make your landing page live
- Deliver your promotional toolkit to sponsors and speakers with instructions on how they can help market the event
Two weeks before your virtual event
Once you've gotten the green light and your speakers are confirmed, it's time to start planning out the logistics of your virtual event. Here's what you should do:
- Confirm with all your speakers that they're able to be present at the event. If they can't make it in person, talk with them about how they'll be contributing remotely (via video feed or webinar). All those details need to be ironed out well in advance of your live stream so there aren't any surprises on day one. Getting people on board early will help ensure everyone is familiar with their role before the real show begins. If a speaker isn't available for whatever reason, don't panic because you can always rearrange things later on if necessary. This is where having backups might come comes in handy!
- Continue ongoing promotions
- Finalize the run of the entire event
- Finalize presentation content and remind the speakers to do the same
One week before your virtual event
This is the time to confirm everything that you need to have in place for your virtual event. This includes:
- Heavy promotions of your event (via social media, email marketing campaigns and other channels).
- Host a rehearsal
A few days before your virtual event
Before you know it, the day of your virtual event is upon you. It’s time to kick things into gear!
First, make sure you have everything you need. Make sure your website is up and running, that all of your social media accounts are updated and ready to go, and that all emails have been sent out announcing the start of your virtual event. Also confirm with each guest (or group) if they still plan to attend.
If possible, schedule a few minutes before kickoff in which everyone can check their calendars for any conflicts or double bookings that might arise during this busy time period.
You can plan your virtual event successfully by being flexible and staying positive.
Planning is important, but don't be so rigid that you can't make changes when your attendees need them. In fact, when you plan an event, it's a good idea to keep an open mind and be prepared to adjust when necessary.
Make sure to send out a survey one week post-event. Only by getting feedback from your attendees can you determine what adjustments need to be made for future events.
Bonus tip: Create a waitlist for your next event and send out an email encouraging attendees to "sign up now," so that they don't miss out on your next event!
There you go! This is the perfect event planning timeline for anyone who wants to get a virtual event off to a great start.
We know that it can be difficult to plan an event when you’re not physically there, but if you follow this timeline and keep your mind positive, we promise that everything will turn out okay. You may even find yourself enjoying every minute of it!
If you're interested in learning more about how to improve your event planning on and offline, click to get on the 2023 waitlist of The Event Planner Expo!