Written by Cathy Baylis
Pulling off a successful conference is no easy task. Whether it’s online or in person, conferences are complex events which require careful preparation. If you do it right, a conference can be a huge success that is great for business.
It’s a tall order, balancing the needs of everyone and planning out a schedule. To make that job a little easier, here’s a quick overview of what makes a great conference.
Plan in Advance
All conferences, no matter how big or small, require a lot of planning. You can’t afford to rush it, so start making preparations as soon as possible. Even if the event you are planning is small, you should start preparing a few months in advance.
There are a lot of factors to consider, such as venue availability and booking speakers. A great conference doesn’t just happen on its own – it requires a lot of conscious effort on your part. Start with broad strokes and define your goals. It may sound like common sense, but preparation is half the battle.
Budgeting is another crucial topic. Review how you will fund the event, and what resources you will have at your disposal. See if there is a possibility to use a space free of charge. Make a decision on whether or not to charge attendees.
Prepare a detailed budget spreadsheet and list all the costs – renting the location, speakers, audio/visual equipment, printed materials, marketing, and staff. It’s always a good idea to leave a little money on the side in case of unexpected expenses.
Preparing a detailed budget will give you a clearer picture of the task in front of you. Once you have that information, it’s much easier to make any needed adjustments.
Getting the word out about your conference is another important step. Take the time to create a logo and color scheme for the event. Make an event website that offers online registration. List your conference in local event listings. Consider offering group discounts.
Once you’ve settled on a name for your event, try to market it using an easily memorable abbreviation. Abbreviations are easy to utilize with hashtags – this is a great way to encourage social media buzz. Market online and ask visitors to post pictures and videos of the event.
You can also utilize e-mail campaigns and guest posts in other online media. Don’t forget updating your website. An updated and optimized website will generate online traffic – so always include the location, date, and theme of your conference in all online publications.
Sponsors and Speakers
Depending on the topic of the conference, you may be able to get sponsors. Sponsors usually agree to fund a part of the expenses in exchange for the opportunity to show off their products or services.
Conferences can also be great opportunities for networking, making them even more appealing to sponsors. A great sponsor helps relieve some of the financial burdens, but also adds additional value to the event.
Speakers are the key to a great conference. Once you’ve laid down clear goals, you can determine what speakers will best help you achieve them.
The choice of speakers also concerns your budget – you shouldn’t expect professional speakers to appear pro bono. Communicate with your chosen speakers – explain what your goals are and work together with them to make a great conference.
Set an Agenda
Once the rest of the planning is done, you should make an agenda. Figure out a detailed timeline for your conference. A great conference offers varied events – so include guest speakers, free time for networking, presentations, and small-group oriented workshops.
Don’t forget about catering – a full-day event must include either a meal or at least a snack. Depending on how many people you want to attract, set aside an appropriate amount of the budget for food.
When the day’s activities are over, consider hosting a dinner or providing an entertaining tour – these activities are perfect for networking and setting your conference apart from the competition.
There are many challenges to overcome to make a successful conference. Planning and scheduling such an event isn’t easy. But conferences can be a huge milestone for your business or a high point of your career.
Learning how to properly plan and manage a conference sets you up for further successes. Knowing how to prepare and market a great conference allows you to step into a leadership role and distinguish yourself. So be prepared – and when the opportunity comes, use these tips to make your conference a great one.
About the Author
Cathy Baylis is a freelance content writer at My Assignment Writing.