So what steps can you take to plan and present a better event schedule?
If possible, start earlier. Having a few extra weeks, or even a few extra months to plan your event will help you iron out the details more thoroughly and spend more time promoting the schedule. You'll have more time to talk to your guests and speakers, you'll have more marketing and advertising and circulation, and you'll be able to polish your schedule to perfection long before it’s necessary to finalize it. If you're in a time crunch, this may not be possible.
Prepare a Draft Timeline
Start with an early draft of your timeline as soon as you can. Even if you don't know all the events in sequence, and even if you haven't finalized your lineup of speakers or entertainers, the foundational draft of your timeline will help you organize things to come. You should at least know your start time and end time, and from there, you can form a big picture of how you want the event to flow.
Utilize Digital Signage Software
Digital signage software makes it relatively easy to make your schedule visible to all your event attendees. Once you have this schedule finalized, you can use digital signage software to make that schedule visible for people entering the venue, people wandering around, and people in specific rooms. As long as there is a digital screen available to you, you can use this software to display whatever you want.
As an added bonus, you can rotate visuals on a fixed schedule, so in addition to displaying a timeline of events, you can also display photos and videos, advertise upcoming events, and communicate directly with attendees with important messages.
Estimate Time Conservatively
When planning your schedule of events, estimate time conservatively. If you're hosting a Q&A session that you think will take an hour, schedule an hour and a half for it. If you think you can fit six different events into a single, eight-hour day, consider planning for only five. If any of your events run long, or if you need extra time to facilitate venue changes or other logistical requirements, you'll be glad you have this extra buffer.
Communicate Early and Often
When your event schedule approaches finalization, start communicating with your audience about it. The earlier and more consistently you communicate this schedule, the better prepared your audience is going to be for it. Post it on your website, on the event page, on social media, and throughout your email marketing and other marketing campaigns.
Make the Schedule Accessible in Many Forms
In line with this, it's important to make your schedule accessible in many different forms, so people can discover it no matter how they choose to engage with your event.
These are some of the most important channels and mediums to use:
- Event emails. Email marketing is highly effective because of its cost efficiency and accessibility. Capture the email addresses of your attendees so you can email them consistently about the upcoming schedule.
- Digital signage. Include digital signs throughout the physical venue if you're hosting an event in person. This way, all attendees can discover the schedule at a glance.
- Physical handouts. Some people still like to have access to a physical copy of the schedule, so they can consult it at their leisure. Print out handouts if you can.
- Postings. It also pays to show the schedule of events to come outside each room of the venue, so people know what to expect in each area. You should also post about upcoming events on social media so people can easily keep track of events to come.
Learn From Your Mistakes
After your event, it’s important to conduct a post-event survey. Try to get as many attendees as possible to fill out this survey, letting you know what their experience was like, what they loved about the event, and what they think could be improved in the future. Here, you'll get objective feedback on whether your approach to schedule planning was effective. You'll also get critical insights you can use to plan a better timeline for your next event.
If you follow these strategies, you'll be in a much better position to create and publicize the best possible schedule for your next event. There are bound to be inconsistencies, errors, and hiccups, but you should be able to minimize these and still host a successful event.