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Ultimate Planning Guide: Top Tips for Planning a Conference

  • Posted 1 month ago

Planning a conference

Conferences are dynamic, multifaceted events that demand meticulous planning to ensure success. From the initial stages of conceptualization to post-conference follow-ups, a well-structured conference plan is the linchpin for a flawless execution. In this comprehensive guide, we distill the essence of successful conference planning by combining insights from leading sources and addressing critical aspects often overlooked. Follow these top tips to orchestrate a conference that leaves a lasting impact.

1. Establish Clear Objectives

The foundation of a successful conference lies in setting clear objectives. Identify your target audience, estimate attendance numbers, and define the end goals – whether it’s boosting sales, increasing registrations, or providing valuable education. Document these objectives to provide a visual roadmap for your planning process.

2. Define the Concept

Craft a compelling concept that resonates with your audience’s needs. Ensure consistent branding through content marketing, social media, and word of mouth, weaving your tone of voice and style into the event concept.

3. Decide on a Format

Select a format that aligns with your concept, content, and audience. Explore options such as roundtables, trade shows, seminars, Q&As, and workshops to create an engaging and tailored conference experience.

4. Establish an Event Budget

Early budget planning is crucial. Consider all expenses, including catering, printed materials, social media marketing, transportation, venue costs, staff, speakers, equipment, licenses, entertainment, and contingency funds. A detailed budget guides decisions and ensures financial preparedness.

5. Settle on a Venue and Date

Choosing a venue early is pivotal, impacting budget and format. Consider the venue’s compatibility with your concept and format. Book as soon as possible, considering factors like location, accessibility, and advice from experienced event planners.

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6. Select Speakers and Vendors

Securing impactful speakers aligned with your event concept is paramount. Early selection ensures availability and contributes to event success. Simultaneously, secure vendors for essential services like food, drinks, and technology, optimising choices and deals.

7. Consider All Customer Touchpoints

Craft a smooth delegate experience by addressing touchpoints such as transport links, networking opportunities, on-site facilities, start and finish times, and accommodation options. Utilise management software for efficient information handling.

8. Assign Roles to Your Team

Empower your team by clearly defining roles and responsibilities. Efficient delegation ensures a cohesive planning process, preventing unraveling as the event approaches.

9. Utilise Technology

Incorporate relevant technology, such as project management software, live streaming, and networking apps, to enhance the conference experience. Leverage tech tools like Phoneshake for innovative networking opportunities.

10. Create an Agenda

An agenda is the backbone of your conference. Include location details, opening times, a full itinerary with speaker schedules, networking opportunities, and event highlights.

11. Promote Your Conference

Craft a robust marketing plan targeting your audience across diverse channels like websites, social media, email, trade or local press, Google Ads, posters, and banners.

12. Send Reminders

Ensure attendee engagement by sending timely reminders and keeping stakeholders informed of any schedule changes.

13. Collect Feedback

Post-conference, gather valuable insights through attendee feedback via forms or online surveys. Use these insights to enhance future events.

14. Share Follow-Up Resources

Fulfill promises made during the conference by sharing follow-up resources through social media or email. Utilize event photos and quotes for promotional material.

15 Accessibility and Inclusivity

In the dynamic landscape of conference planning, it is paramount to prioritize accessibility and inclusivity. A truly successful conference extends beyond logistics and content, embracing a diverse range of participants with varying needs and perspectives. Here’s how you can ensure your event is mindful and considerate, creating an inclusive environment for everyone.

15.1 Venue Accessibility:

Choose a venue that caters to the needs of all attendees, including those with physical disabilities. Ensure wheelchair ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms are available. Verify that meeting spaces are designed to accommodate mobility aids and provide clear signage for navigation.

15.2 Communication Accessibility:

Make information accessible to all participants, including those with visual or hearing impairments. Utilise large fonts, high-contrast visuals, and provide materials in accessible digital formats. Incorporate sign language interpreters for keynote sessions and consider captioning for video content.

15.3 Inclusive Programming:

Design conference sessions that consider diverse perspectives and learning styles. Include a variety of speakers representing different backgrounds and experiences. Ensure panel discussions address a range of topics, promoting inclusivity in content.

15.4 Networking Opportunities:

Facilitate inclusive networking by providing designated spaces for interactions. Consider organising icebreaker activities that promote inclusivity and help attendees connect on a personal level. Encourage diverse voices to be heard during Q&A sessions.

15.5 Pronoun Inclusivity:

Encourage attendees to specify their pronouns during the registration process, and ensure that name badges prominently display this information. This small yet impactful gesture fosters a more inclusive and respectful environment for transgender and non-binary participants.

15.6 Quiet Spaces and Wellness Initiatives:

Recognize the importance of mental well-being by designating quiet spaces for attendees who may need a break from the bustling conference environment. Introduce wellness initiatives such as mindfulness sessions or stretching breaks to cater to diverse well-being needs.

15.7 Feedback Mechanisms:

Establish a feedback mechanism that allows attendees to express their experiences and suggest improvements regarding accessibility and inclusivity. Actively seek input from diverse voices to continually refine and enhance future conference planning efforts.

15.8 Training for Staff and Volunteers:

Educate event staff and volunteers about the importance of inclusivity and provide training on how to address various needs. Ensure they are knowledgeable about accessible features in the venue and are prepared to assist attendees with different requirements.

15.9 Accessibility Information in Event Materials:

Include detailed accessibility information in your conference materials, such as the event website, brochures, and programs. Communicate the availability of accessible features and services to empower attendees to make informed decisions about their participation.

By proactively integrating these considerations into your conference planning process, you not only create a more welcoming and accessible event but also contribute to a culture of inclusivity within the conference industry. Remember, a truly successful conference is one where every participant feels seen, heard, and valued.

16. Ask The Experts – Pro Event Solutions

Pro Event Solutions on Go Book It

We spoke to corporate event planners and production supplier Pro Event Solutions to find out what advice they had when planning a conference

When planning a successful work conference, it is important to begin by defining the conference objectives. This will serve as the foundation for decision-making throughout the planning process. Whether it’s fostering networking, disseminating industry knowledge, or launching new initiatives, having well-defined goals guides every step.

Once the objectives are set, establish a realistic budget that covers key expenses such as venue costs, production, catering, speakers, and promotional materials. Venue selection plays a crucial role; consider factors like location, capacity, and available amenities for example Audio Visual and Wi-Fi.

Creating a detailed timeline is recommended, to include pre-event tasks, registration deadlines, and on-the-day logistics.
Our top 3 tips to impress your attendees and give your conference the WOW factor:

  1. Efficient promotion ensuring a good turnout.
  2. Seamless registration process to enhance experience.
  3. Engage dynamic speakers who align to the conference theme.
  4. Conference materials such as schedules, maps, and speaker bios.

Lastly, implement feedback mechanisms to assess the conference’s success and identify areas for improvement, ensuring continuous enhancement in future events.

In conclusion, this ultimate conference planning guide amalgamates expert insights, addressing crucial elements for a successful event. Follow these tips, and not only will you execute a seamless conference, but you’ll also set the stage for continuous improvement and enhanced participant experiences in future events.