How to Plan a Company Meeting

A Sample Company Meeting Project Plan to Get You Started

Four coworkers in discussion in office
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Congratulations! Your company will be holding a meeting for a group of employees selected from all levels of the company. The CEO has given you the responsibility of Project Manager for the event. These tips and sample project plan demonstrate one way a Project Manager could approach building the project plan for a company meeting or similarly complex project.

Pre-Plan the Project

Your first step is to plan the plan. You start by discussing the event with the stakeholders. If this was done last year, what went right? What went wrong? Who managed the project and can they help you avoid pitfalls this year? Since the CEO assigned the project to you, what does he/she want out of the event? When will the event be? Where? What is the budget?

Assemble as much information as you can. This will be the skeleton on which you build the project plan.

Build the Team

What other resources do you need to make this project a success? Are there people in other departments who can help you make this event a success? What do you need to do to get there help? Can you just ask or do you need to get formal approval from their boss? How much time do you need from them? What specific skills do you need them to provide? Can anyone else provide that skill if the person you want is not available?

Since this is a company-wide meeting, how can HR help? Do you need assistance from the Facilities Department? What about the Marketing Department? Do you need help in that area?

Plan the Agenda

Once you know how long the meeting will last, you start to fill in the time blocks. Do you need an opening speaker? Who will it be? Are you going to keep the attendees together or will you break them into smaller groups for a part of the program? How many other speakers will you need? Who will facility the smaller sessions if you break out?

Will the event take more than one day? How will you close Day One? How will you re-open on Day Two?

How will you wrap up at the end? Do you need a closing speech? How will you handle the logistics of people checking out of the hotel if you book one?

Find the Space

Find out how many people are coming. Then determine how large of a space you need. Where will the event be held? Is there room at the corporate office or do you need a larger space? Does the CEO want the meeting held off-site so people can concentrate, or does he/she want it held in the office to minimize cost?

Which properties in your area can provide the space you need? Is a hotel near the airport a good choice to minimize travel time for people arriving from out of town or should you find something out of town that will be quieter?

What do the different venues charge for their facilities? What do they include and what will you need to purchase and have brought in? Will they assign an individual for you to work with? What is their policy regarding material and people from outside?

Pull It Off

Having gathered the answers to at least most of these questions, you can begin to put together the project plan. Remember that what we are showing here is the list of project tasks, the work breakdown structure (WBS) only. It does not include any of the dependencies between tasks or the timelines. Those would be added later.

Sample Company Meeting Project Plan

In How to Plan a Project Using the Basic Tools of Project Management, we discussed the thinking behind  project planning and using project management skills during the planning process. Here is how a project plan work breakdown structure (WBS) might look for a project to plan a company meeting:

1. Pre-Plan The Project

  1. Determine the budget
  2. Discuss with CEO to establish project goals
  3. Contact previous Project Manager (PM) for tips
  4. Determine the stakeholder list
  5. Contact stakeholders for input.
  6. Establish preferred date for the event
  7. Determine how many speakers/presenters are needed
  8. Determine how many support staff are needed
  9. Determine how many employees will attend
  10. List possible locations for the event

2. Build The Project Team

  1. Get rep from Marketing
  2. Get rep from HR
  3. See if Purchasing will assign someone to help
  4. Ask Susan to handle all the speakers' details
  5. Get rep from Facilities
  6. Schedule project team kick-off meeting

3. Develop The Agenda

3a Plan Day One

  1. Set start time
  2. Set time, arrange place and staffing for registration
  3. Set length of morning session
  4. Set length of speeches
  5. Calculate number of speakers needed for morning session
  6. Recruit speakers
  7. Plan mid-morning break (time and length)
  8. Arrange refresh of conference room during break (water, trash, etc.)
  9. Plan lunch break (time, length, location, menu, who pays)
  10. Plan afternoon session (length, number of speakers)
  11. Recruit afternoon speakers
  12. Plan Day One closing (time, who, length)

3b Plan Day Two

  1. Set start time
  2. Set length of morning session
  3. Calculate number of speakers needed for morning session
  4. Recruit speakers
  5. Plan mid-morning break (time and length)
  6. Arrange refresh of conference room during break (water, trash, etc.)
  7. Plan lunch break (time, length, location, menu, who pays)
  8. Plan afternoon session (length, number of speakers)
  9. Recruit afternoon speakers
  10. Plan Closing Speech (time, who, length)
  11. Arrange check-out timing with hotel

4. Plan  the Space

  1. Determine the number of attendees
  2. Plan seating arrangement (rows vs. tables)
  3. Calculate space needed
  4. Investigate places available with that amount of space (costs, location, services included)
  5. Count number of speakers each day and total
  6. Determine number and type of support staff needed
  7. Find out how many attendees/speakers/staff will need rooms
  8. Negotiate costs and dates with available locations
  9. Sign contract with selected location

5. Publicize The Event

  1. Finalize all details with the event location
  2. Make sure attendees are notified
  3. Notify all speakers of topic and presentation time/day
  4. Notify all support staff of duties and shifts
  5. Get RSVPs from attendees
  6. Notify replacement attendees as needed

6. Follow Up

  1. Get draft speeches from all speakers
  2. Review final speeches
  3. Get name tags for all attendees, speakers, staff
  4. Purchase any materials and gifts for attendees
  5. Reconfirm with event location

7. Review and Rate

  1. Send satisfaction survey to all attendees
  2. Send review survey to all speakers
  3. Send thank you to all speakers and staff
  4. Hold close-out meeting with project team

Further Planning

The project plan work breakdown structure (WBS) above shows a sample for planning a company meeting. It is just an outline. The project team still would need to work on these items and expand on many of them. In addition, they would need to work on the time needed for each task, the relative importance of the tasks and the inter-relationships/dependencies between tasks.