How to Organize a Conference: 6 Key Steps to Organizing a Conference
If you’ve been asked to organize a conference, you may have quite a task in front of you. But before your heads starts spinning, bear in mind it’s easier than your fears may be suggesting, at least as long as you follow a tried and proven system. The steps outlined below are listed in no particular chronological order, but in any case, here’s what you should do:
- Determine your target budget
Setting and sticking to a set budget will prevent you from overspending. Ideally, you want to spend just enough to make a great impression and net a nice profit along the way. Get your hands on what you can obtain for free and try to minimize all other costs (try to arrange some sponsorships if you can). When determining your target budget, don’t forget to include the funds you’re going to invest in marketing the event. Speaking of which…
- Plan a marketing strategy
Ideally, you should prepare some sort of online form through which you’ll be accepting registrations. Do you have an email list? If so, great! You can use it to spread the word about the event. If not, don’t sweat it; you can go down the paid marketing avenue and place an online ad on Google or Facebook. But no matter what you do, make sure to target the right audience. You don’t want people turning up who have little to no interest in what your conference is about. For example, if your a financial advisor looking to generate new leads at a finance seminar, you don’t want to be people showing up that are also looking to advertise their finance services because they saw a misleading advert. Then you’ll be competing for clients. Instead, discover more about how you can better market your next financial seminar to ensure something like this doesn’t happen.
- Recruit the speakers
Are you going to be giving a speech yourself or do you need a helping pair of hands? If you want some big names to appear at the conference, you should expect to compensate them for their efforts. The simpler you make the trip for them, the better; bonus points if you also provide some form of accommodation.
- Make a backup plan
Making a backup plan has absolutely nothing to do with negativism. Remember the old saying? Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. That way, you’ll know exactly what to do if things go south. What if some of the speakers can’t make it, do you have a plan how you’re going to entertain your guests in the meantime? What if one of your food suppliers leaves you hanging? You should plan and account for all of this in advance.
- Arrange catering
If you’re not going to provide on-site conference catering, setting up some vendors and food stalls is an absolute must, unless you want to leave your guests with an empty stomach. Make sure to plan for some food breaks in between. At the very least, you should make sure everyone can get a sandwich if ordering a proper meal is not an option.
- Book the venue
Finally, you should decide on a suitable place such as a university, a hotel, or other independent venues, set the date, and book it. Make sure it’s spacious enough and that there are plenty of transportation routes to choose from. Guaranteeing sufficient parking spaces should also be on your priority list. Finally, make sure that the place you’ve booked has the needed technical and technological capacities (panels, big screens, microphones and so forth) so the event can be carried out as planned.
While there are other considerations you should make when organizing a conference, these are probably some of the most important ones – under no circumstances should these escape your mind. Don’t forget to stay focused, get motivated, and get to work! By pulling it off successfully, you’ll reap the rewards and gain the recognition of the industry’s top experts. Consequently, the next year’s event will be even bigger and better, if you decide to organize one that is.