The next time you plan a conference, you will no longer fret age-old event dilemmas. It takes more than just event organizing experience to arrange the finest conference for your business and your audience. You need to possess a passion and interest in all things business-related, a good grasp of conference organizing, keen attention to detail, a creative mind, and an innate capability to multitask.
If you read the above-mentioned qualities and think, “It’s like asking to have superpowers.” Well, great results comes with commitment to quality. It also comes with a well-defined and customized checklist to help you keep track of your conference objectives.
Define the objectives
The first thing you need to do when creating a conference planning checklist is to specify the
- ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’ and ‘How’ of your event.
- Who is your target audience? Who are your guest speakers?
- What is the theme of your conference? What do you aim to achieve with your event?
- Where will your conference be held? Will it be an indoor or outdoor event?
- When will your conference take place?
How many people do you plan to invite? How will you gauge the success of your event? How much is the allocated budget for your conference?
Zoom in on the details
Now that you’ve given concrete answers to the most vital parts of your conference, it’s time to be more specific with your event.
2.1 Venue – Do some research on which locations fit your budget, target audience size, and theme. Check hotels, conference halls, convention halls, gardens, rooftops and outdoor locations that provide good space and ambience. You can also contact the venue’s management and personnel and request to tour the area and conduct inspections around the site. Don’t forget to compare your venue options based on prices, accommodations, banquet options, transportation, parking, routes, facilities, and convenience.
2.2 Speakers – Deciding on a theme gives you a better idea on who to choose for your list of guest speakers. Create a preliminary list of personalities and officials who you think would be a best fit for your conference. If you can, research their background, credentials and previous guest speaking appearances. Go over your research and narrow down your potential speakers to a final list before you start reaching out to them. Then, discuss the schedules for their speeches. It is important that you and your speakers agree on the schedule and arrange accommodations especially if there are speakers who will be travelling from afar.
2.3 Agenda – It is better to put together a finalized agenda at least 4-5 months before the date of your conference. Identify who your target attendees are and have a better understanding of what motivates and inspires them along with what expectations they may have from your conference. Organize which speakers will have their presentations first. Determine who will open the show, who will conduct workshops in the middle of the conference, and who will present a motivational speech to wrap up the show. If there are other activities aside from speeches, presentations, and product exhibitions, make sure to assimilate these activities smoothly into the entire program proper.
Moreover, think about how your attendees will participate. Will they all be required to attend all presentations or will some of them be given the freedom to choose speeches and workshops that they want to attend?
2.4 Attendee Registration – Planning how your attendees will register to your event helps save more time and money. At present, using event app in place of pen-and-paper registrations is more efficient. You can assign a QR code on their name badges to your attendees so that when they arrive at the venue, a QR code scanner can verify their identity. You can also opt to send online invitations and enable online registrations to help diminish long queues on the day your conference commences. Keep track of RSVPs done online to ensure that your entire guest list won’t overlap.
Delegate tasks and responsibilities
Create and manage a dedicated team to help you carry out your conference’s plan and objectives. Assign staff and volunteers to different teams and committees, particularly for the following:
- Managing your event budget, venue, program and ticket sales
- Pre-event planning
- Advertising and PR
- Applying for and securing sponsorships
- Organizing and keeping track of your guest list
- Assisting and ushering guests as well as manning and watching stalls, registration areas, and other amenities in the venue
- Distributing event surveys
Promote your event
Draw attention to your event and entice more people to attend through implementing an effective marketing strategy. Choose the channels you will use to market your conference. Today, social media is one of the most effective and popular ways that brands get to disseminate information about their event. You can also prepare advertising materials such as banners, brochures and print ads that you can post or distribute in strategically chosen places. Another option would be to design a logo for your conference and have it printed alongside the date and venue on mugs, t-shirts, and even giveaways distributed during your event.
If you can, apply for sponsorships especially if you need assistance in financing your event. Just make sure the sponsors you choose support your conference’s theme and end-goals.
Don’t forget to include audience feedback
Surveys and feedback forms can be distributed before, during, or after your event. You need to decide on what type of feedback you want from your attendees to be able to put together a brief series of questions for your conference survey. Instead of distributing pens and papers for your surveys, you can also employ the assistance of an event app to create digital survey forms that attendees can answer through their mobile devices.
Prepare a back-up plan
While we don’t want to come off as pessimistic, sometimes, things don’t always go right when you plan an event. There are several unpleasant scenarios that could take place, such as sudden weather disturbances delaying travel time or postponing event schedules, a sponsor, a guest speaker or the catering team cancels at the last minute, or some event props and devices stop working right when you need it. It is always smart to prepare an alternative for when your initial plans don’t always go the way you want it to. Think 3-5 steps ahead so you can maintain your composure and device a back-up plan quickly when unforeseen or unexpected mishaps take place.
Organizing conferences won’t give you much of a headache, as long as you have a clear plan and strategy in mind, a highly reliable and talented team to work with, as well as a trusty event app that can aid you in the most stressful parts of creating the perfect conference for your brand.