Top 20 Tips For Running A Successful Conference
Whether you’re a pro at organising conferences or new to the game, you know that your event depends on a lot of planning and organisation. We take some of the hard work out of preparing for your conference with our top 20 tips to ensure the success of your event.
1. Set a budget
This should be one of the first things you do. Our top tip is to consider two or three different budgets and work out what each package will allow you. This gives you more clout when asking your finance department to give you the green light.
2. Advance planning
Planning for a successful conference needs to take place way in advance. Identify what the goals of the event are, and plan around them. Ensure that all the practical things you need – brochures, handouts, display stands – are ordered well ahead of the date. Preparation is everything!
3. Stand out from the crowd
How is your conference is going to stand out from the next business event? Do you have a groundbreaking theme or a new way of looking at business? Or a tried and tested idea but with a new twist? What about your speakers…could you consider hiring people who can give the customer perspective? So if you’re involved in healthcare, get a patient along to talk about their personal story.
Your marketing should always keep your key goals in mind. Plan your theme around these, deciding on a brand colour, logo, or tagline–and today’s must-have social media hashtag. Market your conference to industry insiders and use the local or specialist media to spread the word wider. Think of a news angle to hook the interest of the news guys to maximise publicity.
Get your team on board from the early stages by involving them in the planning and inviting them to contribute ideas. Ensure they know what’s in it for them – an opportunity to network and learn something new. A team meeting before the day is essential so that everyone knows their role. Make sure you schedule in breaks, so your ambassadors are fresh and on point.
6. Research your speakers
Check out potential speakers online through their social media presence. If videos are available, these will give you an idea of their style so you can understand if they are right for your event and will engage your audience.
7. Choice of venue
Hotels are always a great idea for small or medium conferences having all the facilities you need on site and with staff on hand. At The Alex Hotel based in Dublin 2, we offer a capacity of up to 400 delegates, ideal for a large or small event.
8. Befriend a key contact at your chosen venue
Once you’ve chosen the ideal location for your conference, make sure you find out who the key contact will be on the day…and make friends with them! They will be invaluable in providing last-minute assistance and helping smooth any glitches or surprises. Our events team at The Alex hotel are a friendly bunch and always on hand to help run a smooth event.
9. Layout is key
Once you’ve decided on your venue, consider how to use the space to its best advantage. Plan how to set up seating, and how delegates will flow from one area to another. Familiarise yourself with where essentials like bathrooms are to save you searching on the day.
10. Plan the catering
If you’ve chosen a hotel as your venue, you will have the advantage of having catering provided on site. You just need to put some thought into which format will work for your event. An informal buffet may work best for networking and for busy delegates.
11. Hire a professional photographer
Snapshots are fine for social media, but consider hiring a professional photographer to capture the must-have shots for your future marketing campaigns. You won’t regret investing in quality images you can use again on a multitude of channels.
12. Prepare some conversation starters
Running a conference is a big task, but not so big that you can’t take some time out to chat with other delegates. Have some icebreakers prepared beforehand, so you’ve always got a way to strike up a conversation with someone, such as “What made you want to come to this conference?” or “Which sessions are you going to?”
13. Pack extra power strips
Believe it or not, this simple tip could pay dividends…and considering how much we all rely on charging our devices, you can never have too many! Inviting delegates to plug in next to your device is the perfect ice breaker and will win you kudos.
14. Keep records
Go to the conference prepared with a way to record contact details of prospective clients – and to offer yours in the form of a business card, brochure or other collateral. Follow up interest with an email or survey to understand what people got from the event, helping you grow ideas for future conferences.
15. Don’t forget to network
Of course, you will be busy running the show on the day. But don’t forget to connect with people you meet at your own conference. Connect on social or business networks right away, so you don’t just put their business card in your pocket and forget about it.
16. Keep social media running
Your social media feed isn’t just about marketing your event beforehand. Keep posting photos of the event as it unfolds, tagging delegates to increase shares. Break away from the predictable with creative shots taken from unexpected angles or delegates enjoying a joke together.
17. Assess how it went
It’s always good to learn from your conference. For an easy, interactive way to gather feedback, email delegates after the event with an online survey. Many packages will present the results clearly, giving you insight into how your event was received and helping you plan for next time.
18. Thank your contributors
Don’t forget to thank your speakers and contributors. If your conference has been a success – and if you’ve followed these tips, it will be – you will want to call on them again, so you need them on your side.
19. Provide feedback to your organisation
Why not provide feedback to your co-workers once the conference is done? Presenting the high points and showing them how valuable the event proved to be will get them on board for next time you plan a conference.
20. Reuse the conference content for blogs
Summarising some of the key ideas discussed at your conference is a great way to fill your company blog and get some more publicity out of the day. You could also interview delegates and speakers to get their take on the event or write a reflective piece about your experience behind-the-scenes.
So, you’ve booked your venue, invited your delegates, and lined up your speakers…Our bonus top tip is to smile, enjoy the fruits of your preparation, and make the most of the day!