So, you’re thinking about organizing a conference? Great! In all honesty, organizing a business conference is an excellent way to give back to your community, industry and even your own company. It is also a great networking and promotional opportunity. Even if you don’t know how to network, acting as an event creator is an amazing chance to swap business cards with others in your field and beyond.
But how to organize a successful business conference? How hard is it? Where to start? Here are five essential steps you will need to complete to organize a conference:
Drinks and food
With countless business conferences for professionals to attend, “conference food” is often characterized as stale and bland. To avoid this, try combining foods from different caterers and different styles of cuisine to make the attendees experience something original. For instance, the “Swedish table” or buffet offers a wide variety of foods and dishes – including hot and cold meats, cheeses, fish and salads.
It can go down really well, since everyone will have the opportunity to try a couple of different options, keeping it interesting. Moreover, it will enable delegates to stand and network too. Just don’t forget the number one networking essential ingredient – the coffee. Either way, whatever you want to offer needs to be in the appropriate amounts, as long conference days can be tiring and it’s always good to keep attendees interested by providing lots of brain food.
Identify and tag your audience
Organizing a business conference almost always starts with defining the audience who will attend your networking event. Because you can’t invite everyone (even though you would like to), you will need to prioritize your guest list. Therefore, take your time to decide who’s coming to the event and why they should be invited in the first place.
Once your attendees are there, it is advisable to give personalised name labels to your guests, since name tags allow you to separate the audience into attendees, key speakers and event’s staff. In addition, such labels act as an excellent conversation starter, increasing the likelihood of successful networking.
Defining the event’s audience is necessary for selecting a theme for the conference. A broad audience means your theme can’t address anything specific, therefore, it will rarely hold the attendees’ attention.
Set a date and find a venue
Going for the right venue is half the battle for any event organizing. Not to sound cliché, but the location is everything. Mostly because of three important reasons. Your venue needs to be:
Affordable – How much will your guests spend for a single or more nights out-of-town? What about traffic and parking expenses?
Easily accessible – Is the venue near the airport? Easily discoverable? What about the weather? How difficult will travel be?
Offering other attractions outside the event – What is there to do during breaks and after the conference?
Even if your business conference is a single-day event, location is fundamental. It isn’t only about networking and speakers; it is about the entire experience – the food, the fun, the sights in the city. These are the things your guests will remember fondly and talk about.
Agenda needs to be varied for the conference. Plan to have a combination of keynote speakers, panel sessions and an engaging host to keep the day interesting. If required, try to coach the speakers during their rehearsals, and make sure they are talking into the microphone and really engaging with the guests.
Never place an important or serious topic in the afternoon directly after lunch since this is often the time of the day that people can’t focus as much. If you’ve planned an activity, this is usually a good time to run it.
Have a marketing strategy
Inviting attendees isn’t enough to guarantee good attendance and in turn, the success of your conference. When an event is organized on a bigger scale, it’s crucial to promote it adequately by marketing it, all in favor of building enough visibility and exposure.
Not only does event promotion increase attendance rate, but it also generates interest from not just your audience but from other relevant parties that are welcome at your conference as well. For instance, effective marketing will attract speakers, exhibitors, and other vendors. To accomplish this, consider building a specialized website or a landing page with the details about your event.
Organizing a business conference isn’t simple. There are a lot of factors to account for, in order to make sure that the event itself is rememberable and engaging. Developing an event requires a lot of planning and preparation, as well as a lot of effort and perseverance. Although, when you plan ahead and get a bit organized, you’ll be able to accomplish everything needed for a successful event.