Foolproof Conference Planning Tips and a Checklist to Success
There are many types of successful conferences: the multi-day seminar for fitness professionals or the one-day conference to help regional business leaders under 40. All successful conferences share one thing: A planner who plans early and often for success.
Event professionals who host the most successful conferences are always looking for ways to improve their strategies and address their to-do lists. These 8 conference planning tips will help you improve your conference’s effectiveness, reduce stress, and ensure that you have everything covered. We conclude with a handy conference planning checklist to help you get started.
Check that the venue is in line with the event.
Alternative venues are a great way to add a unique flair to conferences. Conferences have been held in museums, historical sites, libraries, theatres, and sports arenas. Consider the needs of your group. A venue should allow the conference to succeed and not take over the show. You should ensure that you have enough space for your group to hold the seminars, breakout sessions, or other activities and that there are adequate toilets. Also, make sure that catering caters to special dietary requirements.
These hotels and conference centers were designed to serve these purposes and allow attendees to focus on the content. For conferences that attract out-of-town participants, the convenience of hotel accommodation, group pricing and enhanced networking opportunities are all great.
Networking is a great way to give every attendee an advantage.
Your conference badges are ready. Networking is one of the top reasons people attend conferences. In a job search, face-to-face networking is more efficient than online networking. These events enable people to meet and connect with others who share their passions or career interests. This helps them succeed.
Consider how the conference app can be used to support networking.
- Before the conference: Allowing attendees to import their LinkedIn profiles rather than creating an event-specific one; letting them mark their interests and specialties, and showing other users who are interested in the same topics and attending the same sessions
- During the conference: In-app messaging to make it easy for attendees to connect at the same social function as you or follow up with those posted on the Social Wall.
- After the conference: Providing contact information to allow attendees to keep in touch with each other easily.
Create a content plan that includes unique takeaways.
Follow a clear plan to source content if attendees come to your conference to expand their knowledge.
First, ask your audience questions about topics, subtopics, depth of knowledge, and other relevant matters. This may seem like a Catch-22. If your content is drawing an audience, how can you get an audience to vote before you have content? There are ways around this problem: Get in touch with past attendees if it is a regular event. You can create an event Facebook group that offers simple polling. If all else fails, poll some people who are likely to attend or whose interests and careers fit your target audience.
Your conference marketing tree
Your conference website is the root of your marketing tree. It’s easy for people to find what they are looking for. It supports the whole event and can be easily spotted.
Search engines must be optimized to ensure that people can find the event website online. Consider what attendees may search for when searching for conferences related to their industry or interests. These are your key keywords. Your conference name will become a keyword as it gains more traction. Your conference name and other keywords should be included in page titles and content. A logical structure allows visitors to easily find your “About” page, conference schedule, registration information, tickets and other important information.
Avoid the most common conference planning headaches.
There’s no avoiding the fact that headaches will occur. These are the most common problems:
- Make sure you clarify your cancellation policy. You can make the policy whatever you want. (No refunds? Are refunds available up to two weeks before the event? Refunds up to 2 weeks in advance? It should be clear and easily visible.
- Make sure to schedule extra time for speaker outreach. Not everyone is as responsive or organized as you. It can be not easy to get all the information you need from multiple speakers. So make sure you have a buffer. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be necessary. Please send us a postcard when you reach that world. This section should be updated until then.
- Training your event check-in staff: Attendees get a bad impression when they see long lines and hiccups during registration. Please choose an event registration tool that is easy to use, and set up a time to familiarize your staff with it before the event.
- Loop security for early: Security is no longer an afterthought. Get their input early on in the planning process if you plan to have security at your event. This will allow you to integrate it seamlessly and not need to reorganize it later.
- Create communication channels for your team: It’s unnecessary to struggle with confusing layout versions or endless searching for the right email thread. You can use project collaboration tools such as Slack and Trello to give your event planner to all team members. This will ensure that everyone has the most recent version.