Organising Success: Your Essential Conference Planning Checklist

There’s so much more involved in planning a conference that getting some speakers to arrange presentations, hiring a venue and hoping enough people turn up on the date you’ve set. While it’s really easy to get things wrong and have a conference end in disorganised disaster, it doesn’t have to be difficult to get things to run smoothly.

There’s often so much to deal with during conference planning that it can be overwhelming to know where to start, but with these key tips and areas of focus you’ll have the fundamentals sorted and the rest should come easily.

1. Guest Speakers

This point refers to a couple of things – firstly, the inclusion of guest speakers at your event. Utilising speakers from within your own company or department is a great resource, but utilising significant, experienced or well-known speakers as part of a presentation or round table discussion can be a great way to add some overall authority to your event and attract in more attendees.

The second point is how you organise this; it’s absolutely imperative that contacting and agreeing the attendance of any guest speakers is one of the first things you do in the planning stages. They should always be organised well in advance to ensure they are available for the date of your conference, and have enough time to prepare an engaging presentation or discussion.

2. A Targeted Marketing Plan

What good is a conference if next to nobody turns up? A strategic marketing plan needs to be put in place to ensure the best possible attendance from the people you need to be there. Identify who you’re targeting the conference towards, what they can get out of it, what channels it’s best to market it on and approach companies within your industry. This needs to be done well ahead of time to ensure sufficient exposure and enough time for interest to gain momentum.

3. Thought-Out Objectives

This is almost a sub-point to a targeted marketing plan, as ensure you have well thought-put objectives during the planning stages is absolutely vital – in fact, it’s one of the first things you need to be doing. You need to figure out what you’re trying to do with the conference – raise awareness on an issue? Spark discussion? Encourage new relationships within your industry? Provide an exhibition-style format for industries to talk about new products or services? Identifying your target audience is also a necessity, as doing so allows you to plan everything else with precision and gain the best possible attendance.

4. Suitable Conference Venue

Once you’ve got the specifics of your conference down (like who’s attending and who’s speaking) then you need to decide where you’re going to have it. Nailing down the right conference venue is not only important from a practical point of view, but getting it wrong can give the wrong impression – too small and it feel cramped, overcrowded and poorly organised, but if the venue is too big then it look unpopular and under attended.

Opt for a venue with a choice of suites available, and book a decent sized room in advance. Then, should you needs change, you can likely just switch your booking to a more suitable suite, and you’ve also got the option of multiple rooms should your conference need it.

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