A conference is a great way to get a group of people together and present a range of content. However, the unfortunate reality is that many of us have been to a conference that was ineffective and a waste of our precious time. The best conferences are meticulously planned and nothing is left to chance. Often they are so seamless it is not evident that so much planning went into them – but it did. These are the 8 key steps to follow:
Step 1 – Choose a theme
The conference needs to have consistency and also a unifying message that all speakers and content delivers against. Choose a theme that is memorable and will trigger a response in participants. You want to stimulate conversation, so it is ok to challenge the status quo.
Step 2 – Assemble your team
You will need trusted individuals to plan the conference and then an inspiring group of speakers who can present the content to the audience.
Step 3 – Produce a budget
Conferences cost money – usually quite a lot of it. Regardless of whether the event is sponsored, non-sponsored, paid for by attendees, or free, you need to be clear on your costs, income, and if ultimately you are meeting the set budget. Common costs are venue hire, transportation, speaker fees, marketing, catering, transport, and accommodation.
Step 4 – Pick a date
This sounds so simple but it requires a fair bit of thought. It should be at least six months ahead to give people a chance to plan and clear any diary conflicts. It should not clash with any major events or holidays. Also participants are more likely to attend if you place an event in an interesting city and near to the weekend so that they can stay on and sightsee.
Step 5 – Book a venue
Be mindful of picking a convenient location that has decent but affordable accommodation nearby. It should also be close to transport links. You should also consider other points such as facilities, technical capabilities, catering options, and atmosphere.
Step 6 – Produce the agenda
Try and consider a typical attendee, what they would like to get out of the event, and then how best to structure the day to cater to those needs. Be mindful of practical points like comfort breaks and catering times so that attendees are unlikely to be hungry. Also consider how you will keep the audience motivated and interested. A great way to do this is to seek proactive engagement using interactive polling.
Step 7 – Register attendees
Now you need to consider how to attract attendees, and thereafter how to register them. Perhaps you have a database of people you can send an email to. There are also a number of online platforms that you can use for individuals to register and securely pay if it is a chargeable event you are organising.
Step 8 – Take care of logistics
This is the part where you need to make sure that every little detail is planned so that the event runs smoothly. This includes all of the information and final reminders you will be sending out to speakers and attendees.
We hope you have understood from our article that a successful conference is not the product of chance – it is primarily down to the planning. By following our 8 step process, you will significantly improve your chances of having a great conference that attendees will remember.