10 Steps On How To Organise A Conference
The events industry has gone through a lot in the last year and a half. Therefore many of our clients have been left wondering how they are going to organise a conference in 2021 and beyond.
The need for virtual solutions for conferencing events has taken precedence this last year. However now that restrictions are starting to lift, many of our clients are now facing the task of organising and planning their 2021 and 2022 conference events.
There are lots of details to consider when organising a conference, but don’t fret! In this blog, we will talk you through everything you need to consider from an experts perspective. This will ensure a successful and smoothly run conference.
First and foremost, when organising your conference you need to consider your large milestone tasks. These are the tasks that will require most of your time and potentially more of your budget. It is important to have a clear picture of how long these tasks will take to complete and how much budget you may need to allocate to complete them. It is also a good idea to have a little wiggle room for these.
1. Construct Your Event Strategy
Whether you’re planning a yearly round-up conference to outline success and plans for the future, or perhaps organising a conference to network and gather like-minded individuals to discuss industry changes. Your first and most important step is to understand what you want to achieve from your event.
With all events, but especially corporate and larger budget events, it is integral to understand your goals and expected outcomes. This will really help to formulate a budget and ensure that time and money is spent in the right areas to achieve the maximum reward.
Having a clear strategy for your event will ensure you are able to differentiate your conference from the thousands of others that take place each year. It will give you a clear and marketable picture of what your delegates can hope to gain from their attendance at your event.
Furthermore, there needs to be a firm understanding of what the delegates are set to gain from attending. With the recent economic downturn, people want to ensure their time is well placed and that they’re attending an event that will genuinely benefit them.
2. Explore Different Technologies
If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that embracing technology, and technical solutions is a key way of making conferencing events and events in general work.
There are many solutions and ways in which an event company can combine technologies to create an event that functions on both a live and virtual basis. Being aware of this and the technical options available to you will enable you to make good strategic decisions about what you want your conferencing event to look like.
Furthermore, when in the process of organising a conference you want to ensure your and your teams time is spent effectively. Therefore in the preparation stage ensure that you are working collaboratively and effectively by creating good communication channels and clear tasks. For example, using software such as Asana is a great way of managing your project.
Not to mention that when you come to host your event you need to ensure that the platforms and technology are good. From registering for the event, right through to attending you’ll need to ensure the process is smooth and technologically sound. There’s nothing worse than attending a conferencing event that has technical issues.
3. Allocate Tasks
To organise a conference is a big task with lots of elements to think about. Therefore delegate.
One of the best ways to do this is by getting a conference task force together. This way everyone will have clear roles, responsibilities and expectations. It will also ensure things aren’t overlooked due to people trying to juggle too many roles.
The allocation of tasks and projects will depend on your team size. For example, if you run a small team, the chances are that each individual will be responsible for certain areas. However, if you have a bigger team you’ll be able to delegate out specific tasks to individuals.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to bring in volunteers. By utilising students and volunteers you’ll be able to use your core team for the bigger responsibility tasks and rely on your students and volunteers for the smaller tasks. This is a great way of utilising peoples skill sets and ensuring no one is spread too thin.
Another thing you’ll want to consider when organising your conference is choosing a good team to work with. Ensure that the team is dedicated, hardworking and enthusiastic. Organising a conference is no mean feat and you’ll want a team who are really on board and dedicate to the project.
However, if you’re not an events pro or this Is your first time organising a conference you may want to reach out to a conference management company. They’ll be able to plan everything as well as managing on the day of the event and ensuring your budget is managed and optimised to achieve your intended outcomes.
4. Carefully Plan Your Budget
Unlike many events, a conferencing event’s prime function is not to turn a profit. Therefore, as an event organiser, you need to understand what value you will get out of hosting this conference. Furthermore, you want to ensure that your budget is being spent wisely in areas where you will achieve outcomes that will benefit your business or its employees. Ultimately with a conference event, you will not be aiming to generate profit however you will also want to ensure that you are not turning a loss either.
If you’ve previously organised a conference then this is a great place to start as you can look at data, results, engagement and output of your first event and weigh up what worked and what didn’t.
You will also want to account into your budget registration fees that are paid by the delegates and potentially any sponsorship deals you may be able to secure to add more money into your budget.
5. Venue Selection
This is a very important consideration when you organise a conference and will be dependent on whether you’re hosting a live, virtual or hybrid event.
If you are planning a live conference then you’ll need to consider things like space, breakout areas, potential catering facilities as well as location and ease of access for your delegates.
If you are hosting a virtual or hybrid event you will still need to consider your venue space as you may need to film in a dedicated studio or, alternatively, you may want to film on-site and live stream this to your delegates.
Other elements to consider when picking your venue are what that venue comes with. Will you need to provide your own staging, lighting and AV will you need to source table and seating and will the acoustics be right in the venue space.
The best way of understanding whether the venue suits the event is to go and conduct venue visits. With these visits, you can get a real feel for how the venue looks. As well as understanding if the venue will meet your needs as the conference organiser.
Furthermore, it will allow you to understand exactly what you are paying for and ensure that there are no hidden fees. You can also negotiate in person or see if there are any deals or incentives for corporate event bookings.
However, if you are unsure about this or want a professionals help, you can always hire an event manager to help source and manage your venue.
6. Create a Great Website
This is the platform where you’ll showcase everything that your conference can offer as well as building up anticipation for your event. In most cases this will be the delegates first impression of your company, therefore you want to do everything you can to ensure that it is a great first impression. Your aim is to get them excited about the event!
Your website will not only showcase your event but be a central place for all FAQs, information and registration. Therefore, focus on strong visuals and clear messaging and branding. Ensure that the website is easy to navigate and provides all of the delegates with everything they need to know.
Additionally, your website can be a fantastic opportunity to get delegates interacting by having a feature where they can submit questions to be asked on the day of the conference.
7. Select Guest Speakers
As an event management company, we know what works best for conferences, and getting a guest speaker on board always goes down well. There are so many brilliant options when it comes to guest speakers, meaning that you can choose a speaker who will not only be relevant to your delegates but will also be inspiring and add real value to your event.
Getting a good and relevant guest speaker on board is also a sure-fire way to attract the right kind of delegates to your event. However, do be aware of the costs that come with booking a guest speaker.
Depending on the calibre of the speaker the fees and additional costs may change. For example, if you working in an academic space you could always invite a successful alumni speaker to your conference. With this, you may only be expected to cover accommodation travel and a small fee. However, if you’re looking to book a speaker who has a high profile then you’ll need to consider budgeting more money for this and potentially having to cover more expenses.
Another thing you may want to consider is the diversity of your speakers. The key to an informative and engaging guest speaker is to have someone who is relatable to your delegates. Therefore by booking speakers of different levels of experience, and ensuring that there is a gender balance, as well as representation of minority groups you will open up your event to a wider audience.
8. Generate Excitement
Time is money and for your potential attendees, they want to know why it is worth their time attending your conference. When you organise a conference, you need to create a buzz around your event and exactly how it will benefit everyone attending. In a world where everyone is constantly glued to their devices either for work, or socialising it is important to stay relevant and in the minds of your delegates.
Different ways that you can do this is by setting up social media platforms for your event. Get people talking by asking questions and doing polls. Create a countdown till the event and tease details of what your attendees can expect on the day. Encourage attendees to use specific hashtags and share pictures of them attending, this will create hype around your event as well as potentially driving traffic to your website.
Make sure that there is a clear strategy in place, with clever PR targeting the right audience. Also be aware of what is trending in your sector and generate conversation around this on social media, this way you can stay relevant and show that you are an industry leader, therefore, showing that your conference will be a valuable event to attend.
9. On The Day Management
By the time your conference comes round most of the hard work will already be done, however, don’t forget the tasks that will need to take place on the day of your event.
Whether that’s meeting with suppliers to set up the venue space, getting all of the presentations loaded up onto equipment provided, liaising with caterers or managing delegates there will be plenty of tasks to think about on the day.
Brief your team on their day-of responsibilities and ensure that everyone has a clear running order. Just like when you were planning the conference you will want to set out clear expectations to each of your team to ensure they know what they are doing.
10. Post Event Analysis
So you’ve organised a conference, hosted it and it turned out a success. However, how much of a success?
It is so important to allow time to collect data on your event to ascertain where it succeeded and where improvements could be made for next time. By doing this you gain a clear understanding of where the budget was spent and whether you gained a reward from this.
Furthermore, you can understand whether you reached the right audience and whether they were engaged with your speakers and content. This will then allow you to make really informed decisions when you come to organise a conference for your next event.
If you would like to organise a conference but still don’t know how to start get in touch with our event management team today to discuss how we can help.