Our 2024 Guide to Planning a Corporate Event

Planning any event can be stressful, but corporate events present some unique challenges. They’re often information-heavy and can last multiple days, so how do you keep attendees engaged? How do you keep things interesting? In this guide, we’ll outline 8 easy steps to make sure your corporate event is a success. Whether it’s a seminar, conference, or company summit, we’ve got you covered.

Example event planning checklist. Text: "Use lists to stay organized. Step 1: establish the goal. Step 2: pre event checklist. Step 3: day of checklist. Step 4: post event checklist."

1. Start with a Discovery Meeting 

What’s the purpose of the event? It could be a team building exercise, strategic business development training exercise, product launch, anniversary or milestone celebration, awards ceremony, grand opening, etc. Deciding exactly what your goals are will help you determine the scope of the event and create a budget. You should also meet with any internal teams that will be involved in planning, and schedule recurring meetings to keep everyone in the loop on progress.

Tip → Invite your board members to the initial brainstorming session. It will help them feel included and heard.

2. Set a Budget and a Date

Evaluate the spending for previous events, as well as for typical high-level spending categories like venue, food and beverage, staffing, signage, A/V production, etc. Will you be paying for employee accommodations, airfare, or transportation? Estimating your costs before drilling down into line-items will help you prepare. Additionally, depending on the location of the event, be cautious about planning during the winter months since weather can affect people’s ability to travel. The last thing you want to do is make a huge investment into an event that no one can attend!

Tip → Most companies schedule summits on either the first two days of the week (Monday and Tuesday) or the last two days (Thursday and Friday).

3. Select a Venue and Catering

Once you’ve established an estimated attendee count, you’ll need to book a venue (unless you’re producing a virtual event). You can work with a company like HelmsBriscoe to help you manage the time-consuming task of researching, contacting, and negotiating with venues. This is also a good point in the planning process to consider whether or not you want to go hybrid and stream the event. We’ve seen many larger organizations gravitate towards hybrid solutions, since it’s not always possible to have everyone attend in-person.

Tip → Most venues have “preferred vendors” (and may claim you get a discount for using them). However, that doesn’t always mean that they won’t allow you to bring in outside vendors. Advocate for your company by bringing in the best possible partners to make sure your event is unforgettable.
Example of a corporate conference. Dark blue lighting, single speaker.

4. Find an A/V Production Company

A reputable production company will help you navigate through the event process and provide you with valuable insight into what technology will work best for your needs. Do you need projectors or an LED wall? Multiple sound systems? Cameras in the room? Integrated graphics? Good production is a must⁠—people need to be able to see and hear—but great production can elevate the experience and take your event to the next level.

5. Book Your Talent / Keynote Speaker / Entertainment

If you don’t have someone in mind already, speakerhub.com and espeakers.com are great places to start your keynote research (don’t forget that some speakers require you to cover the cost of food and beverage, hotels, transportation, etc.). You may also want to consider hiring a DJ or band to play music during dinner, happy hour, and breaks. Talk with your production company about what they can provide and what their limitations are (if you’re just looking for someone to play background music during your workshop, you may not need a DJ).

Example of a corporate workshop. Single speaker holding a microphone, looking across the room at someone out of frame.

6. Consider Professional Facilitation 

In our experience, if you’re producing a workshop (or any other event with a focus on open communication), then professional facilitation is absolutely a must. Someone who’s an expert at bringing out the wisdom in the room, fostering group synergy, and elevating creative thinking can make all the difference in the world. Professional facilitators will help choreograph conversations and assist with designing your agenda in a thoughtful way.

7. Get Creative with Marketing

Innovative branding and marketing is one of the most reliable ways to get people excited for your event. Once you’ve determined the big-picture theme, decided on colors, and created a logo, here are some examples of the collateral you may want to invest in:

  • Save-the-dates and personal invitations (these can be physical or digital). You can also create an invitation video to further personalize your outreach.
  • Apparel and other promotional merchandise for employees. You can get high-quality products from JNI (Nadel). We recommend contacting Tracey Kugler to help you select the perfect gift.
  • Printed materials. Booklets, banners, printed programs, name badges, etc. (consider having a way for people to recycle lanyards at the end of your events).
  • A branded powerpoint template for leadership to use in presentations (in order to help establish brand consistency).

More details to consider:

  • It’s usually rare to have so many employees in one location, so take advantage of the opportunity. Contact a photographer and videographer to capture content. Dedicate an area for employee interviews, testimonials, and headshots. Frame the interview questions around some of your organization’s most important marketing initiatives—recruiting, lead generation, etc.—and get content to help you hit business development goals.
  • Hire a video production company to capture footage of your speakers and audience during the program. You can request a highlight video to promote future events, as well as the raw footage (which you can then use to create shorter-form content for social media).
  • Use QR codes to efficiently gather data. Experiment with live polling and session Q&A.
  • Make sure you have the wifi information to distribute to guests.
Example of a videographer at a corporate event. Focus is on the camera operator. Her subjects are out of focus, sitting around a table in front of her.

8. Evaluate the Event

Once the event is over, you should take some time to revisit your initial goals and evaluate how well you met your objectives. You can also send out a post-event survey to ask attendees how they felt about the experience. And, of course, you should reflect on all the hard work that went into pulling off this project. Event management can be challenging, but a dedicated team and informed partnerships will help you exceed even the highest expectations.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

We’re ready to help you create an event experience your employees won’t forget. What questions can we help answer?