Planning and organizing a conference can be a great way to advance your career and make interesting new contacts. A successful business conference is a good place to brainstorm your ideas and get some important feedback. It can also be a good way to strengthen your team, build up morale and increase results. And while you get those experiences by visiting a conference there is no feeling quite as rewarding as organizing a successful event yourself. However, it’s a demanding task that requires a lot of foresight and dedication.
Here are the 7 most important things to keep in mind if you plan on organizing a successful business conference.
1. Set goals
Before you start planning a conference you need to decide what the purpose of such an event will be. There are many reasons to organize a conference and how the project eventually turns out depends mostly on your goals. Do you want to create an opportunity to meet with potential new partners outside of the company, or would you like to strengthen the internal organization? Should the whole experience contribute towards team building or would you like to focus more on concrete education? The goals that you set will ultimately define the size and agenda of your conference.
2. Define the budget
After you have defined your goals you need to decide how much money you are willing to spend in order to achieve them. It’s important to do this step before you take any first steps towards the organization. A good budget will keep you grounded and focused on results. The more detailed the budget the less likely you will be to encounter unwanted surprises. That being said, you should always have a contingency budget and have enough cash set aside to help you deal with unforeseen costs.
3. The location matters
The location of your conference will have a big impact on its outcome. This is especially true for bigger cities. When choosing a location, you should first consider your own office. If the available space is big enough hosting your conference at work can save you a lot of money and make the overall organization easier to manage. Of course, in most cases that won’t be possible, and you will need to find another venue. Try to find a location that is easily accessible and has multiple transport options. The better connected the venue the less likely you will be to encounter delays due to people being late.
4. Finding the right venue
Finding the right space is just as important as defining the right location. The venue that you end up choosing for your conference will have a big impact on the overall success of the event. You need to find a good place that has enough space to host the entire guest. If the conference is over multiple days the guest and speakers need to have nearby accommodation. Big cities are usually better for such events because you have more options when it comes to available spaces and the necessary equipment. For example, finding quality audio visual hire in Sydney is much easier than smaller cities.
5. Find the right date
Finding the right date for your conference is a very complicated task and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need to find a specific time when the venue, speakers, and guests are all available. The more ambitious your conference the harder it is to get them all together. For that reason, conferences should be planned as much in advance as possible. A medium sized conference takes about a year to plan. Smaller gathering can be planned faster but in general, if you want to organize a business conference you need to start planning as soon as possible
6. Have a clear agenda
People need to know what they can expect from your conference. It’s better to not have someone attend than have an unhappy guest because the event is not turning out the way he expected. Start developing your agenda early and make sure people know what they are signing up before they apply. It’s important to maintain a transparent mindset and only invite people that are truly interested. The more precise your agenda the less likely you will be to have unwanted guests.
7. Evaluate the event
People often forget this important part. Every project needs to have clearly defined goals and ways to measure if those goals were achieved. After the conference is done take the time to gather feedback and determine whatever the time and money you put into the project was worth it. Participants are expected to give feedback and they will gladly share their thoughts with you if you ask nicely. A short questionnaire is a good way to gather fast data which you can later evaluate to draw your conclusion.
Planning a conference is a complex undertaking but also very rewarding. The experience and connection that such events provide are very precious. Use these tips to make sure your conference is successful and you get the maximum benefit from organizing one.