1. Venue and headcount
First things first, you’re going to need somewhere to hold your conference. Selecting a venue is an important step because it allows you to set the tone for the event. What sort of space will you need? Indoor or outdoor? How many people are coming? These things should all be taken into consideration before committing to a venue. Once you have the venue, it’s then up to you to fill it to capacity.
2. Marketing and Signage
Marketing is an important part of any conference, especially if the conference is in aid of brand awareness or a product launch. Companies like Tenji Concepts will sell you table covers, multimedia displays, hanging banners and marquees that will grab attention. Many of these companies can also customise them with your logo or slogan, provided you’ve got high quality, print-ready artwork and graphics to give them. For larger conferences, this signage can also be used to direct attendees to certain areas and help them find their way around a bit better.
You’ve got loads of people coming to show so how do you keep them happy? Easy, make sure they’re fed and watered adequately. Catering is a great way to make sure everyone has something to nibble on without breaking the budget. Have the catering company bring in some finger food or entree dishes and lots of bottled water for guests to snack on. A comfortable crowd is a happy crowd.
4. Crowd control
Speaking of happy crowds, making sure that they have good direction is essential to keeping the conference flowing smoothly. Is there just one major event that you’ve brought everyone in for or are there multiple talks or demonstrations going on, on the day? Ensuring that people know where to go and that there are clearly designated queueing areas is key. Volunteers are a great way to keep costs down in this regard – friendly people who know where everything is and can help confused attendees find their way around.
What is our goal for this conference, and what is the most efficient way we can achieve that goal? These are the two questions you should ask yourself when you begin putting your conference together, and it’s important to keep them in mind during the entire planning stage. Plans change, bookings fall through, speakers get sick – there are many variables and surprises that can throw you off track and force you to focus on the wrong thing. Stay on target and don’t get derailed.
Holding a conference of any size is all about good planning. Get ahead of any foreseeable issues and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the little ones when they crop up. Keep your cool and delegate responsibly. And don’t worry if there are areas of your conference where you fall short this time – those are the areas you’ll know to focus on to improve the experience for next time.
Do you have any experience putting on a conference? What would you have done differently at your first conference? Let us know in the comments!