So it’s on – you’ve got a conference on your hands and you’re starting out with a blank slate where you need to pull together what the vision is going to be and how you’re going to achieve it. A clear concept and a checklist are essentials in taking control of conference planning for your team.
Whether it’s an annual event that’s somewhat familiar territory and is looming in the diary once again, or a brand new idea to spark fresh commercial developments or innovations, the principles remain the same. Internally, it’s also a boost for the team – with clearly defined roles and responsibilities it’s a way for the team to work together and emerge with tangible, visible results that make everyone feel valued.
The starting point is outlining what the conference is and what it is meant to achieve. Having a clear, written concept from the start is the only way to make sure the vision stays on track throughout the whole planning process – and makes sure everyone has the singular, shared view on what the event is to look like.
Next up is the nuts and bolts of the planning, starting with budget. Establishing the date and venue choice and availability go hand in hand. The venue will also influence catering and audio-visual options and capabilities, so that must be factored in as part of the decision-making process. Venue choice also throws other things into the mix, too, such as whether accommodation is on-site or needed, and how to manage and make any off-site events cost-effective.
It’s here that a checklist accessible by everyone on the team comes into play, so that everyone knows what is to be done and when it needs to be done by.
Then it’s all about planning the flavour of the event program. Themes and sessions need to be outlined and speakers need to be booked. Another key part of this stage is pulling together a marketing plan. Sponsorship partners need to be established – and the attendees need to be targeted so that the right people know about the event and will get along to it.
Now that the structure of the conference is all pulled together, closer to the date it’s important to work closely with the venue to ensure smooth-running and any Plan Bs that need to be established in case of any unforeseen events such as poor weather.
All of these elements provide a clear path to and control of a successful event. And it’s always important afterwards to conduct a post-mortem and also capture feedback from attendees – that way there’s only room for improvement for the next time and greater success ahead.
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