If you’ve been assigned the role of organising this year’s annual conference and it’s not your normal role, you’re probably wondering where you should start. Don’t worry - we have you covered. Follow these eight steps for a smooth and successful conference plan.
1. Determine your objectives
Whether you’re organising the conference alone or you have a whole team of people helping, it’s important to ensure everyone is aware of the end goal. Keeping this goal in the forefront of your mind will help you make further decisions.
2. Agree on a budget
Firstly, do your research - find out if you can get your hands on any free resources before purchasing, such as hi-tech equipment - does the venue provide them free of charge? Our top tip is to create a budget document, covering all the potential costs of the conference.
3. Find the perfect venue
The venue is arguably the most important decision you’ll make when organising a conference. Ensuring it’s within a location which is easily accessible with excellent transport links will increase attendance. If you’re hosting a multi-day conference, we advise searching for a venue that has a hotel on-site. You’ll also want to look at what services are already provided at the venue, saving you and time and money from searching elsewhere.
4. Book vendors, if necessary
As said previously, you may find that your chosen venue provides services meaning booking vendors may not be entirely necessary. However, if not, we advise you get these booked sooner rather than later. Gain a full understanding of what you’ll receive and thoroughly read through the contracts and cancellation policies before making any decisions.
5. Search for speakers
When looking for speakers, it’s important to identify those who are relevant. Do your research and look over previous videos and speeches and ask around to see if anyone else has heard the speaker before. Choose your speaker in plenty of time to ensure you have a chance to sit down and provide them with information about the conference itself and any other details. We advise to always have a plan B incase a speaker happens to cancels last minute.
6. Draft an itinerary
Next, map out how the day of the conference will look. Beginning with the start time, allocate time slots for each speaker, scheduled breaks, group workshops and free time to network. Ensure there are plenty of refreshments throughout the day.
7. Spread the word
It’s now time to market the event, once you have designed a logo and name etc., display it online through event websites, email and various social media platforms. Check with your venue to see if they offer a basic promotional event support package, if not, we advise you speak with your venue to determine whether they can offer you any promotional support.
8. Book in a ‘check’ day
A day or two before the event, book out a full day to go through every detail. Ring and confirm with the venue, vendors, speakers etc. We advise you tour the venue itself to ensure everything is in place and in working order, ready for your conference.