Business conferences are great ways to gather your peers and colleagues and share ideas and insights with each other. These types of networking events are critical for any industry to thrive because it brings essential people to a location in which they can build stronger relationships and come up with new ideas that will lead them towards success. However, planning the event itself can be quite daunting which is why many organizations shy away from it.
Between the logistical details to be settled beforehand, the accompaniment of the participants during and the communication throughout the event, not everyone can be a conference organizer. It is for this reason that many prefer to turn to an event agency to organize an event of such magnitude. They can thus obtain a turnkey service, without having to take care of the organization. However, if you want to get started with conference planning yourself, these few tips should help you get a clearer picture of the right way to go.
In terms of events, and whatever the event to be organized, good preparation is essential: seminars, conferences, keynote speakers, cocktails … The entire success of the event depends on its preparation upstream. So do not hesitate to plan at least six months in advance to organize an event such as a conference. It may seem early, but it’s actually the bare minimum to have time to organize and deal with the unexpected.
First of all, you need to define the objective of your conference. It is indeed from this first step that the rest of the organization follows, because it allows to know where, when and how to organize the conference. You will not use the same service providers, or will not rent the same reception hall depending on the topic discussed.
Identify Your Theme & Topic
Having a theme and topic that your conference will focus on can be a difficult decision to make because you will need to focus on one or two key areas as you do not want to become too scattered. When people decide to attend such an event, they want to have a clear understanding of what they are going to get out of it.
Here are some sample topics you could discuss:
These are just some samples so you can get an idea of how to formulate the topic and theme of your conference. Just remember that attendees are always looking for the next big idea of growth hack they can use to improve their business. So ask yourself this question: What are the key takeaways from the event?
Hiring Professional Speakers
Once you have identified the theme and topic of your conference, you will then need to identify the keynote speaker and guest speakers who are going to support these topics. It is important to understand that if you plan on charging tickets for the event, you will need to hire some big name keynote speakers who will impress your audience. However, when it comes down to truly educating your attendees on the latest business trends, you will need to find a business speaker who specializes on the specific topic you are going to focus on.
Now you can think about the number of participants you want to invite to your conference. If you want to encourage debate and exchanges, you should avoid inviting too many participants, in order to allow everyone to come together to discuss. If you want to accommodate a large number of participants, you may need to plan several conference days.
Also, consider renting a room for your reception. If you plan to host a lot of people, make sure you find a place that is spacious enough. Likewise, if you wish to bring in speakers, plan a dedicated room such as an auditorium or amphitheater. Don’t forget to inquire about the technical equipment of the place (audio, video, wifi,…). If the latter is spread over several days, check the presence of hotel infrastructures near the place.
Food & Refreshments
In addition, remember to provide on-site catering during the conference. This kind of event takes place at least over one day, if not over several days. Depending on the type of conference you wish to organize, you can plan an adapted catering (lunch, buffet, cocktail ). In general, do not hesitate to compare the different providers before making your final choice.
Help Your Guest Feel At Ease
The big day has arrived, your conference can finally begin. And everything should be done to make life easier for your guests. Since they have made the effort to travel to attend your event, you should pamper them accordingly. Organizing a conference therefore requires putting yourself in the shoes of your guests, in order to sort out for them all the details that they do not want to worry about once there.
Remember to provide your guests with a detailed plan to get to the conference. You can send it to them a few days, by email or SMS for example, so that they can get organized. If car parking is available to them, we recommend that you give your participants a prepaid ticket so that they can use it as they wish.
It is also a good idea to give each participant a guest badge. This will allow you to know exactly how many participants you have hosted at your conference. Just send them a badge to print a few days before the event. On D-Day, all you have to do is ask the reception team to flash the QR code on the badge, in order to know the number of participants.
Also remember to provide a trusted contact person on site, and for the duration of the conference. The latter will be able to inform you of any concerns, and especially anticipate the needs of your guests.
Communicate Around the Event
It is often mistakenly believed that communication is only necessary before the conference. But in reality, it is essential to communicate before, during and after the event. Before, if only to let any interested parties know that a conference will be held on such and such a day in such a place.
You must also communicate on your conference while it is in progress. For example, you can use social networks: Instagram stories, Facebook lives, photos and videos of all kinds posted on your various accounts… It is also a good way to involve your participants by asking them to contribute to your content.
Likewise, the end of the conference does not mean the end of the communication. Once the event is over, consider measuring the satisfaction rate of your participants, by inviting them to answer a questionnaire or leave a review on social networks.
You can also send a retrospective of the conference by email, and why not offer a replay service for the presentations made by the invited speakers. All of these little details are crucial in conference planning, so don’t overlook any. The success of your event depends on it.