Event Timeline Best Practices for Impressive Scientific Events

Written by
Published on
July 25, 2023

Event planning can be overwhelming, even for the most experienced event planning professionals. There are just so many moving parts to consider. That’s why an event timeline is so important, as it acts as a clear road map towards a successful event, detailing all the steps you need to carry out to deliver a quality experience for your attendees.

At Superevent, we’re firm believers in the phrase ‘we prepare to fail by failing to prepare’. That’s why we’ve outlined the best practices to create your event timeline and ensure your next scientific event wows your guests and, most importantly, runs smoothly.

What is an Event Timeline?

An event timeline is a chronological list of everything that needs to happen before, throughout, and after an event. It should detail assigned tasks, requirements, timeframes, contingencies, and deadlines. It serves as a guiding document to ensure nothing is forgotten and all bases are covered to keep the event on track for success.

Why are Event Timelines Important for Scientific Events?

  • Sequencing and organization: Event planning is never a one-person job, and with so many moving parts, event timelines become a steering document. That’s why everyone needs to be aware of what’s expected to happen and when. The sequence is significant for scientific events as attendees hope to exchange ideas and engage with science community members. The event timeline should ensure the day flows well, with ample time for multiple interactive learning opportunities and networking breaks.
  • Keeps everyone in the loop: Creating a draft event timeline ensures everyone involved is in the know and on the same page regarding all details and priorities. Stakeholders can have a say in the plan and be involved in the planning decisions early. Additionally, centralized timelines clarify deadlines, expectations, and processes to help keep everyone motivated and focused.
  • Accommodates attention to detail: Attention to detail is crucial in regard to event planning, and with an event timeline, you’ll ensure that no small detail is missed. Venue checks, bookings, accommodations, promotions, and more are taken into account, helping you keep track of all the small details that can make or break an event.

Keep Attendees Engaged during your Scientific Event

While the event timelines are a good way to keep your teams in the loop, you’ll want something to keep your attendees engaged both before and during an event. Thankfully, we at Superevent have the perfect solution with our event app. With our platform, you can create a personalized event app with comprehensive management dashboards, allowing you to send out surveys, create chats, and more, to create higher engagement with your events and foster a sense of community among your attendees.  

User-interface: Superevent homepage

Whether you’re organizing an in-person, hybrid, or virtual scientific event, the Superevent platform lets you build a customized, intuitive custom app without needing technical expertise at a price to suit your budget.

And if this is your first time planning a scientific event, Superevent is your friend. Once you’ve created your event on our platform —which we can help you with, we become your assistant throughout the event lifecycle, answering your questions regarding any kind of professional event.

User-interface: Superevent solutions

And if you’re not ready to create an event just yet, our short email course has actionable, tried, tested, and super interesting tips on organizing engaging professional events.

How to Create an Effective Event Timeline

Define the Event Purpose to Guide the Timeline

Before drafting your event's timeline, define the purpose to steer the plan. For example, if your event focuses on Human exploration through space, you’ll need ample time to organize speakers from various space agencies.

And the earlier you start, the better!

The size and complexity of your event will determine how early you should plan. The general rule of thumb is to allow at least 6 months for small events and at least a year for larger ones.

Get started on your draft by drawing up an event planning strategy checklist with everything that needs to happen, then develop a schedule from this.

For event planning activity ideas and when they should occur in the timeline, check out the best practices section further down.

Plan Your Event Timeline

Define Critical Goals

Identify goals, objectives, major milestones, and deadlines, as clarity simplifies decision-making. And it will take some time to communicate achievable goals agreed upon by your team.

Examples of critical milestones and deadlines include:

  • Finalizing a venue or appropriate virtual tool
  • Finalizing catering
  • Finalizing speakers and panelists
  • Launching registration
  • Finalizing event app

Establish Anchor Points

Anchor points are your set-in-stone deadlines that cannot be changed or rescheduled. For example, when payments need to be made, like a deposit to secure the venue.

Break Down Tasks and Assign Responsibilities

Consider how long each task will take. For example, how long could it take to develop and finalize a marketing strategy? At this point, you might only be able to give guesstimates, which isn’t a problem if your timeline is well organized and adhered to as much as possible. Some tasks may need to be broken down into smaller milestones to keep everyone on track.

Establish roles and responsibilities among the team, include measurable goals, and consider how and when to evaluate progress and completion. Celebrate successes and your team's hard work throughout the process to keep morale high.

Be Realistic and Predict the Unpredictable

Be practical when setting your timelines and deadlines. Plan for roadblocks, unexpected delays, and changes by including buffer time for task completion.

Sometimes things will go wrong that are out of your control. Typical problems include double-booking errors or god-forbid a prominent speaker canceling at the last minute.

To keep on top of such letdowns, consider touching base with your vendors and speakers regularly, including days before, so you’re kept at the forefront of their minds. And always have a good backup plan!

Get Feedback, Review, and Refine

Getting an event timeline right for the first time is unlikely, so consider sharing your timeline draft with your team. Get feedback from the team, vendors, and other stakeholders involved. They can help refine the details by highlighting mistakes and anything not considered. You can share a summarized version of the timeline or the main areas of concern.

As the day approaches, continue reviewing and updating the timeline regularly. This helps to monitor progress and find problems or gaps so that necessary adjustments can be made as early as possible.

Plan Your Event Timeline: What to Cover and When

This event timeline planning guide is not exhaustive but offers general guidance on when various activities should occur.

4 - 6 months before the event: Decisions and branding phase

  • Figure out the budget
  • Reach out to venues to discuss availability and costs
  • Get in touch with potential speakers, panelists, and caterers
  • Contact graphic designers to discuss event branding
  • Open early-bird ticket sales

3 - 4 months before the event: Marketing and logistics phase

  • Launch your branding strategy
  • Order branded products for event goodie bags, pens, etc.
  • Ask speakers to promote the event on their social media
  • Arrange any insurance or licenses required to use the venue
  • Confirm whether the venue is wheelchair accessible and other accessibility requirements
  • Go over how the venue layout will be utilized on the day

1 - 2 months before the event: Fine-tuning phase

  • Confirm travel and accommodation arrangements with speakers and panelists. Request a copy of their talks
  • Close early-bird ticket sales
  • Boost marketing efforts to push last-ticket sales

1 week to 1 day before the event: Tying up any loose ends phase

  • Ensure everyone knows what’s happening on the event day and where they need to be
  • Finalize numbers with caterers and venue
  • Finalize required IT, audio, and video equipment
  • A finalized event app is ready. Print out copies of speeches and schedule
  • Organize registration and set up media tables with promotional items and name tags

Other Event Timeline Creation Tips

  • Consider using an event management tool – The Superevent tool allows you to set up a customized, intuitive event app in a few clicks; you can manage your attendees and centralize all communications to support your event team with arrangements.
  • Develop a contingency plan for emergencies – Emergency plans are essential for events, and the procedure for evacuating the building if there’s an emergency should be communicated to attendees to ensure they are familiar with it. Devise an emergency communication plan so you can always reach attendees.
  • Have a post-conference plan – After the event, ensure the conference proceedings are widely available by publishing them in a journal, newsletter, or website. Consider uploading videos and images of the event on social media. Thank your attendees for coming and mention your next scientific event.

Use Superevent to Deliver Immersive Scientific Events

An event timeline keeps you on the path to delivering the high-quality scientific events your guests want. Combined with Superevent, you can create events and dedicated event apps to access the best tools and support needed throughout an event’s lifecycle.

Without technical skills, you can build an event app for engaging virtual and hybrid events; and access attendees' communications to learn more about your target audiences. Plus! You’ll contribute to saving trees as the agenda, and all vital information is available on the app.

Book a free demo today to learn more about how Superevent can help you lay on immersive professional events.

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