A 7 Step Plan for Making Your Next Conference Great
Planning a conference isn’t an easy business, but it must be done and there are plenty of great creative conference ideas out there.
However, the best approach in identifying a conference theme is to identify a problem within your industry and then have your conference revolve around it.
Conferences provide a great opportunity for networking, sharing knowledge, and creating new experiences.
But, if you are the mastermind behind the conference, then you’re dealing with quite the challenging task! Basically, your entire life will be put on hold while you are organising and preparing for this event.
Often times, too much pressure is placed upon the organiser. Perhaps the most stressful of all tasks is ensuring and being responsible for your conference’s success and memorability.
If you create a conference that runs smoothly and is full of innovation and opportunities for attendee and employee engagement, chances are you will be successful and your efforts will be doubly rewarded.
So, if you want to go about this herculean task, you must be wondering how to make all the hustling good and worthwhile!
A successful conference will outweigh all of the effort, hours, and emotional investment you poured in preparing for the big day. If you create a plan of attack in advance, then your conference is bound to run smoothly and you will reap the many benefits of being the host.
Divide this monstrous undertaking by taking one small step at a time and approach each task with meticulous attention to detail. Consider the conference to have three stages: the pre-conference stage, the conference itself, and the post-conference stage.
1. Dive into the Logistics
There are a lot of wise sayings and quotes that reveal the importance of starting on a strong note. Success is determined by how you set about doing something at the beginning. If you start on a strong note, you will end on a strong note. Keep that in mind.
Before committing and announcing your plans of hosting a conference, consider what it entails. Do a little research to understand the magnitude and logistics of what you are about to manage.
Think about every nook and cranny, every aspect and dimension of your event. Spend a lot of time visualising, researching, and outlining throughout the entire process.
Decide on your policies, financial matters, and speakers right from the start.
Some things to consider are:
- Will you be giving free tickets?
- How will you market yourself?
- Will you implement a no-refund policy?
- How will you be funding your event?
- Can you hire a technical team?
- Can you find a few business partners?
- When must you submit your designs to a printing shop in order for the banners to be finished on time? A month in advance? Two? How long will it take to finish the name tags?
Once you understand your responsibilities as the organiser, it will be much easier to face any sort of curve ball along the way.
2. Surround Yourself with Good Teams and People
A conference also depends on your support system. A great business partner will help you get through those stressful times by reiterating the purpose and mission of your conference.
In addition to finding partners in crime, consider hiring an all-star technical team. Mishaps always happen and a piece of equipment never fails to go haywire, so better plan for damage control in advance.
3. Thrive with Etiquette
The politeness and common courtesy lessons from childhood have an extra purpose now.
Be a good host and think about the many ways you can help your attendees to feel right at home.
Don’t overlook your interaction with your speakers. Speakers are crucial to the conference because they provide the content and ideas by courageously stepping out onto the stage to speak in front of the audience. Think about your speakers the entire time, before, during, and after the conference.
4. Make Comfort a Priority
It is crucial for you to think from the attendees’ points of view. Think about the presentation flow. Consider the conference’s overall ambience by asking these questions:
- What venue will you be renting?
- Are the seats comfortable?
- Will you play relaxing music at the end of each lecture?
- Will provide free food and drinks?
5. Stick to the Theme
Not talking about decoration here… A great conference theme addresses a specific problem or concern within the industry. This gives you purpose and focus. Two birds with one stone.
A theme will help you organise and collect speakers while providing inspiration and direction for the event.
6. Allow a Little Wiggle Room
A conference will be successful if you are focused, but remember to be also a little relaxed. Stick to the theme, but also allow enough opportunity and breathing room for people to relax and mingle.
Consider implementing relevant team building activities or opportunities for networking within the conference’s itinerary.
7. Ask for feedback
Now, it is time to check if you were, in fact, successful in providing a good conference.
Ask for feedback. Offer an incentive, like a desirable prize of some sort, for completing the form. Mention the feedback form several times during the event and either distribute it electronically or with the old fashion paper and pen approach.
Possible questions that you might want to ask include:
- What was your favourite part of this conference?
- Did you like the food and drinks?
- How would you rate the venue?
- What did you like about this location? What could be better?
- Who was your favourite speaker and why?
- Did you enjoy the networking and team building activities we provided?
- Would you come again next year?
Despite the difficulty in pulling it off, conferences are great for meeting likeminded individuals who share same values as you.
To have a successful conference, remember to plan ahead and visualise every possible detail, from financial matters to venues to logistics.
Then, while the events are unfolding, be sure you cater to the attendees and speakers to make them comfortable. Finally, always ask for feedback, so that you can come back next year bigger and better.