Conference Agendas – What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?

Whether you’re planning a virtual, hybrid, or fully in-person event, you need a conference agenda. They help ensure that your events run properly, making sure it’s structured in a way that each segment can go off without a hitch. They also help to set attendee expectations and help them get a feel of the events that are taking place. 

These are just some of the reasons why it’s so important to have a proper conference agenda in place. But how exactly do you create one? 

Thankfully, Superevent is here to help! We’ve helped plenty of businesses hold their own conferences, and now, we’re going to help you make a comprehensive conference agenda for your own event. But, before we move on to the creation of conference agendas, there are a few important questions we should answer first. So let’s dive in! 

What is a Conference Agenda?

Conferences can be large, multi-stringed, and often confusing. A conference agenda is an easily digestible summary of what’s going on throughout the event. It gives a clear overview and allows attendees, organizers, and speakers to decide which presentations, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities they most want to attend. It shows where they need to be and, most importantly, where there are clashes between two or more events so that attendees can choose the one that suits their interests most.

The agenda also shows when breaks occur. This allows everyone involved to pace themselves throughout the day. A poorly-paced conference becomes a marathon that everyone just wants to get to the end of, which can seriously hurt the chances of attendees attending the next time an event is held.

Free Bonus:
We reviewed all conference agenda app, and came up with a top 5. Check it here!

Different Types of Conferences

Academic Conferences

An academic conference is a one-day or multi-day event during which researchers present their work to each other. Conferences are a great way for researchers to stay connected to others in their field and learn about cutting-edge ideas, technologies, and developments. Published papers and ongoing research are presented by a poster or oral presentation for discussion with peers, where lively debate is usually encouraged.

Business Conferences

Typically, a business conference is a gathering to meet and discuss a particular subject within a given field of business. The two main types are a single company based, or an industry body.

Large corporations use business conferences to propagate ideas and concepts to their staff, introduce staff in an office on one side of the world to those on another, and to inspire a sense of togetherness and family.

Industry bodies focus on a particular aspect of business and bring together ideas from different organizations on a single topic.

Trade Conferences

Trade shows, trade conferences, and exhibitions are gatherings around the products and services of a particular industry segment. These events may be open to the public as well as to industry insiders. Trade shows usually comprise an exhibition hall where companies show off their products and services to prospective buyers alongside a conference where related trade and business topics are presented and discussed. 

Events are often educational, allowing competitors to interact, and announce new products but the goal of a trade conference is business development, finding new customers, and fostering partnerships. 

Examples of Conference Agenda Templates

It’s popular for conference organizers to use a template to build the agenda so that nothing gets missed, and the agenda adheres to a familiar format that’s proven easy to follow. Templates are available in Google Docs and MS Office, but these can have a barebone feel about them. 

Also available, but less popular, is to use a presentation package like PowerPoint to create your agenda.

A far more holistic approach is to use an event app, but make sure you use one like Superevent, which specializes in professional science and business conferences. You’re not organizing a rave. A bespoke app integrates the entire process of running your conference, starting with an agenda, in a format that every delegate can carry around in their pocket.

Science Conference Template

Below, you’ll find a simple template you can use for your own conferences. It focuses mainly on scientific conferences (as they’re one of Superevent’s specialities), allowing you to plan out an educational event easily. But you can rearrange the information however you’d like to fit your event!

Guest Speaker 1(Name)
Guest Speaker 2(Name)
Guest Speaker 3(Name)
Guest Speaker 4 (Name)
Guest Speaker 5(Name)
Guest Speaker 6(Name)

Day 1

9:00am – 10:00am:Registration and breakfast
10:00am – 11:00amOpening keynote speech on latest scientific discoveries
11:00am – 12:00pm:Panel discussion on scientific breakthroughs
12:00pm – 1:00pm:Lunch break
1:00pm – 2:00pm:Workshop session 1 on scientific methods
2:00pm – 3:00pm:Workshop session 2 on data analysis techniques
3:00pm – 4:00pm:Networking break
4:00pm – 5:00pm:Closing keynote speech with a prominent scientist

Day 2

9:00am – 10:00am:Breakfast and networking
10:00am – 11:00amKeynote speech on emerging scientific technologies
11:00am – 12:00pm:Panel discussion on science communication
12:00pm – 1:00pm:Lunch break
1:00pm – 2:00pm:Workshop session 3 on science policy
2:00pm – 3:00pm:Workshop session 4 on science education
3:00pm – 4:00pm:Networking break
4:00pm – 5:00pm:Closing keynote speech

Day 3

9:00am – 10:00am:Breakfast and networking
10:00am – 11:00am:Keynote speech on future scientific frontiers
11:00am – 12:00pm:Panel discussion on science and society
12:00pm – 1:00pm:Lunch break
1:00pm – 2:00pm:Workshop session 5 on science and ethics
2:00pm – 3:00pm:Workshop session 6 on science and the environment
3:00pm – 4:00pm:Networking break
4:00pm – 5:00pm:Closing remarks and thank you

Why is a Conference Agenda Important?

A well-planned agenda gets everyone on the same page from the start. It’s the roadmap for your event and will keep everything on track.

Agendas Define Objectives

Nobody wants to miss out on a science conference where peers will be presenting relevant research or strategies. Nobody wants to be the one that wasn’t there when a panel discussion discovered a new research topic in your field or when that breakthrough result was announced in a keynote speech.

Your objectives define who will attend and who won’t. If you want the major players in your field of science to be there, you need to define clear goals in your agenda. A clear agenda encourages stakeholders with shared goals to attend.

It gives attendees time to prepare

An event is a journey and your agenda gives everyone time to prepare and make sure they bring everything they need. It gives presenters time to create engaging speeches and attendees time to prep questions for them. It also gives researchers time to see who else will be at your event and to get their own networking plan in place.

Time Management

Conferences are busy and confusing, and if not managed correctly can easily become chaotic as events overrun or overlap. A clear agenda helps prevent confusion as everyone knows where they should be and how long they should be there.

Free Bonus:
We reviewed all conference agenda app, and came up with a top 5. Check it here!

How do you Create a Conference Agenda?

Step 1: Design the event agenda program

For an inspiring and on-point agenda, speakers should match the subject of your conference but also include some surprises. Industry leaders can be interspersed with one or two motivational and leadership speakers who bring ideas and inspiration from another field. Sports and entertainment personalities are popular choices.

Make sure you have energizing speakers immediately after lunch to get everyone perked up and keep someone truly inspirational for the end of the day to keep everyone there. Just be sure you keep your target audience in mind as you build your agenda.

Step 2: Conduct pre-event surveys

You may be certain of what you want your science industry conference to deliver overall, but there will be participants with specific agendas within your goals. It’s worth finding out what they are so you can add as much value to the time they spend at your event. A survey can help you discover their wants.

Suitable questions include:

  • What do you hope to learn?
  • Whom from your industry would you like to hear speak?
  • What do you want to take away from the conference?
  • What’s your preferred format?

Meeting the expectations of your attendees is key, but you don’t need a crystal ball to do it – just ask them.

Step 3: Choose a format and theme.

Your conference format and theme define the experience your attendees will have. Themes tend to have catchy titles like “Destination Innovation” or “Mission Possible” but try not to choose anything too generic. Your theme needs to make sense to the people you want to attract as attendees while maintaining strong event branding.

There are multiple possible formats once your theme is set, such as presentations followed by breakout sessions and panel discussions. Mini events within a conference help people move around and meet people they might otherwise have missed, especially if your event is large and well-attended. Speed networking and gamification sessions fall into this category too.

Step 4: Determine the amount of time allocated for each topic

It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of sessions within a conference. Make sure you take a regular step back and look at the overall timing and pace of your event. Setting strict limits on timing for each session will help you keep the planning under control but on the day of the event you need to have strong, proactive moderators on the ground to make sure nobody hogs the limelight and things overrun.

Step 5: Identify who leads each topic

Find industry leaders that attendees respect to lead on relevant topics to give your conference credibility. An industry “name” will draw in quality participants, even if they can only take a few hours out of their busy schedules to make a keynote speech and chair a panel discussion.

Try to include someone high up in your industry’s governance, such as a trade body or from the government department that oversees and legislates on your subject. Where you expect a topic to be contentious (and it’s good to have a few to keep things lively) find an independent mediator that all sides of the discussion will respect and respond to.

Step 6: Count on regular breaks to boost energy and participation

Everybody needs to take a break. It may be to use the restroom, catch up on emails or just step away and absorb what they just learned. Quiet rooms, refreshments, and opportunities to network with the people you just met are all essential for a successful conference.

Conference fatigue is real – don’t let it be a part of your event.

Step 7: Sync the agenda with an event app

Event apps have brought genuine innovation to the conference industry. By leveraging smartphone technology, users can synch agendas, share timetables, locate where they’re supposed to be, get reminders of when they need to be there, and even find the restroom.

A well-designed event app gives attendees all the information they need on a device they already have in their pocket. No need to be carrying around printed agendas anymore and the agenda links to all the other information they need at the touch of a button.

Superevent is a B2B SaaS company. We provide a web, and mobile application for professional events, where clients can build their own app for their event. These events range from conferences, summits, networking events, or company courses. Events are categorized into three categories: virtual, with only online attendees; hybrid, attendees are at a physical location but can also participate online; and in-person, where the event only takes place at a physical location. Superevent accommodates all types of professional events.

Free Bonus:
We reviewed all conference agenda app, and came up with a top 5. Check it here!

Build Your Own Event App

Organizing an event is a complex process that starts with an agenda. SuperEvent lets you build your own event app, without the need to hire a developer, scaled to suit your needs and your budget.

Streaming and interactive features mean your conference can be in-person, virtual, or hybrid and nobody will miss a single session or keynote and you can update agendas and happenings as your conference grows.

Start building your event app from the ground up with the Superevent dashboard.

Ready to amaze your attendees?

Superevent will power your hybrid, virtual or in-person event with technology that will amaze your attendees. For you as organizer it will be a breeze to work with our software and team. Affordable, easy and happy attendees!