How to Organize a Successful Conference

The best conferences inspire delegates with engaging presentations and excellent networking opportunities. They help generate a buzz around new ideas and bring people together. But organizing a conference is no easy task. As a conference...

The best conferences inspire delegates with engaging presentations and excellent networking opportunities. They help generate a buzz around new ideas and bring people together. But organizing a conference is no easy task. As a conference organizer, your role should not be taken lightly. It requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of your target audience.

Put Attendees First!

Before diving into the intricacies of conference planning, it's vital to remember one golden rule - put attendees first. Every decision you make should revolve around their needs and expectations. Ask yourself why delegates attend conferences, what they want to get out of it, and how you can deliver a unique and valuable experience.

To ensure attendees get the most out of your conference, you should have an in-depth understanding of your target audience. If you don't, take the time to learn more about what they expect and what appeals to them. Ultimately, they want highly relevant and engaging sessions that provide unique value at every turn.

To organize a successful conference, consider the following factors:

  • Conference Budgets
  • Conference Themes
  • Choosing a Conference Venue
  • Conference Speakers
  • Making a Conference Schedule
  • Promoting a Conference
  • Conference Registration
  • Networking at a Conference
  • Conference Technology

Now, let's break down these aspects of conference planning in more detail.

Planning a Conference

Planning a conference can be daunting, especially if you're new to the role. In this section, we'll cover key areas such as budgeting, finding sponsors, and choosing a venue.

Conference Budgets

Budgeting is a crucial aspect of conference planning. You need to ensure you can deliver everything you've promised while staying within your financial constraints. Determine whether your conference will run over one or two days and if it will take place in one auditorium or multiple stages. Costs will vary depending on your setup.

To keep costs low and maximize your conference budget, consider finding sponsors and choosing an affordable venue. Finding sponsors can provide financial support and exposure to your audience, but be clear about what you can offer them in return.

Ticket Pricing for a Conference

Ticket sales are another important factor in your conference budget. Determine how much money you need to recoup to break even and set your ticket prices accordingly. Consider offering discounted early bird tickets to generate initial interest.

Getting Sponsors for Your Conference

Sponsors can play a vital role in staying on budget. Create a list of potential sponsors who would benefit from exposure to your audience. Clearly communicate the support you need and what you can offer in return. Make sure their involvement adds value for attendees, such as by providing goodie bags or exhibition space.

Conference Themes

Choose a theme that resonates with your target audience and aligns with your conference objectives. A well-defined theme will tie everything together and make your marketing messages more effective.

Conference Exhibitors

If you decide to have exhibitors at your conference, choose those that will add value for attendees. Ensure the venue has suitable exhibition spaces at no additional cost. Be prepared to answer potential exhibitors' questions and provide them with information on the demographic of attendees and your unique selling points.

Hiring Event Staff for Your Conference

Organizing a conference is a big task, so don't do it alone. Assemble a team of colleagues and volunteers to help you throughout the planning process and on the day of the conference. Assign specific roles to each team member to ensure a smooth execution.

Choosing a Conference Venue

The conference venue is of utmost importance. Do your research and visit potential locations in person to negotiate contracts and have control over the look and feel of the venue. Consider factors such as hidden costs, disabled access, and potential conflicts with other events. Ensure the venue is spacious enough to accommodate all attendees comfortably.

What Facilities Are Included in a Conference Venue?

A conference venue should provide essential facilities such as AV equipment, Wi-Fi, catering, and comfortable seating. Check the quality and capacity of the Wi-Fi, as well as the catering options. It's crucial to offer vegetarian and plant-based options. Additionally, confirm the availability of staging, lighting, and AV equipment to enhance presentations.

How to Choose a Date for Your Conference

Choose a date that doesn't clash with other related conferences or events. Popular times for conferences are between March and November, with Thursdays and Fridays or Mondays and Tuesdays being ideal. Consider allowing attendees to play tourist by hosting your conference over a weekend.

Conference Speakers

Choosing the right speakers can make or break your conference. Invest time and effort into finding engaging speakers who can inspire and motivate attendees. Don't limit yourself to the same rotation of speakers; seek out fresh voices and consider off-topic speakers to add variety. Work out the logistics with each speaker, including their session content, AV requirements, and accommodation needs.

How to Make a Conference Schedule

When scheduling your conference, group speakers and presentations by theme. Avoid cramming too many sessions into a single day to prevent attendee fatigue. Plan regular breaks for networking, allow time for lunch, and consider the ideal session length for maximum engagement.

Promoting a Conference

Marketing and promotion are crucial for the success of your conference. Utilize both online and offline networks to build awareness and generate ticket sales. Start promoting your conference as early as possible and send regular updates as the event approaches. Encourage speakers to share updates as well.

Communications

Clear communication is key to keeping attendees informed and engaged. Send regular emails with important information, such as venue details and schedules. Maintain an up-to-date website with all essential information easily accessible. Make use of social media by creating a unique conference hashtag, encouraging attendees to interact online, and fostering a sense of community.

The Conference Day

Congratulations, you've made it to the day of your conference! Here's what to expect:

Conference Registration

Streamline the registration process to ensure a smooth check-in for attendees. Offer online registration in advance and prepare a registration desk with lanyards and goodie bags. Provide attendees with a schedule of the day's events and any other necessary information.

Networking at a Conference

Networking plays a crucial role in conferences. Designate spaces for attendees to gather and encourage conversation. Consider organizing post-conference drinks to facilitate further networking opportunities. Remember, attendees come to conferences not just for the presentations but also to connect with like-minded professionals.

Workshops/Training/Round Tables

Consider adding workshops, training sessions, or round tables as additional value for attendees. These smaller events allow for more in-depth discussions and exploration of specific topics.

Add-Ons

Enhance your conference experience with these add-ons:

Conference Technology

Leverage event technology to enhance your conference. Develop a conference app to provide attendees with valuable information, enable networking, and collect feedback. Be prepared to troubleshoot any tech issues that may arise during the event.

How to Film a Conference

Consider documenting your conference by capturing photos and recording presentations. This allows you to share knowledge and insights with a wider audience and adds value for all involved.

The Follow-Up Email After a Conference

After the conference, send thank-you emails to speakers, volunteers, and sponsors. Compile and share slideshows, videos, and other resources related to the conference with attendees. Take care of any outstanding invoices and use feedback to improve future conferences.

Central London Conference Venue

Consider hosting your conference at 20 Bedford Way, a renowned venue in Bloomsbury, Central London. With experienced catering and conference teams, state-of-the-art AV equipment, and a 910-seater auditorium, it's an ideal choice. Enjoy the convenience of excellent transport links and a location that attracts both tourists and business professionals.

Conference planning requires attention to detail, organization, and a deep understanding of your audience's needs. By putting attendees first, carefully considering aspects such as budgeting, speakers, and venue selection, and leveraging technology and add-ons, you can organize a successful conference that leaves a lasting impact.

1