When you’re branding is all over that upcoming conference day, there’s a lot riding on you to make sure that the event delivers everything you’ve promised.
From the best speakers and hosts to facilities that stand out, your name and your reputation is riding on making this conference day a success.
If you’re part of a team within an SME charged with getting the event organised, booked and over seeing the running on the conference day, then this guide will be an invaluable resource to making sure you’re operating at the top of your game. Take a look through our suggestions and make sure that you’ve got everything on that tick list ready to go and under control.
When you want the best product you’re going to need to have the best team around you to make that happen. As tempting as it is to bring together your friends and people you just know make for an easier time, what you really need is a smaller group filled with people who are excellent at their job.
Find your IT person who can take on the responsibility of making sure that your tech is in place and up and running on the day. Find your admin assistant who’ll take charge of organising the invite list and of managing the list of delegates, their inquiries and specific needs. Find your marketing specialist who’ll deal with all your printed material and media boards. Then there’s you, overseeing the organisation and picking up tasks along the way.
You’re going to need to delegate from the get go, so provide your team with access to software that includes a shared task management system. Something that allows everyone to see what they should be doing, what others are doing and the ability to tick tasks off as they go.
Everyone will stay with the timetable, there will be no overlapping and with luck nothing will get missed off the list.
From the off
You’ll need to source a conference venue that stands out. If you tend to go with the tried and tested, why not try out something new to give your conference a little bit more of a buzz about it. Find somewhere that offers stand out facilities, modern and comfortable. You’ll need to ensure that while there is plenty of parking available that it is also close enough to, say, a mainline station to make it easy for delegates arriving by train.
Check that the facility has great access for disabled delegates including those who may have hearing difficulties. Find out if a loop system is available. Make sure that all the rooms and bathrooms are set up so that they are accessible to wheelchair users.
Then you’re going to need to turn your attention to what you’ll need to bring in from the outside. You may want to use the centre’s own catering staff or you might want to bring a service such as Elior who will cater for large scale events such as this.
Your admin assistant will be able to provide you with a full list of everyone who has specific dietary needs so make sure that list is passed over to your catering team as soon as possible.
Next, you’ll need to check that your tech side is covered. Have your in-house expert with you to talk with the conference manager about what already exists and what might need to be hired in. Make sure that you and your delegates are furnished with the wi-fi code on arrival, something that will probably need to be included in your delegates’ welcome pack.
On the day
If your team has performed as well you’d expect, then you should be all set. Have your media boards and pop up banners with any branding in place as early as you can and go through a final run through with your contact on site to make sure that tech and the network is up and running. Have a final call with the catering team to make sure they have access to the site and know when to serve refreshments and lunch and take a deep breath.
Have everyone’s number in case you need to call and share that contact list around everyone working on site during the course of the event. Remember that while things can go wrong it’s how you deal with them that counts, so keep a cool head and provide solutions rather than recriminations.
After all the delegates have left and you’ve breathed a sigh of relief, the work hasn’t quite reached its end point.
Gather your team together for a debrief. The very best way to create a conference that works is to figure out and learn from what didn’t. Try not to point the finger at specific team members but instead brainstorm what could have happened differently to make the whole process smoother.
If there was a tech issue, was this because of the venue, a lack of training for the operatives or because of faulty equipment? Either way, next time challenge that issue from the start to ensure there won’t be a repeat performance. The same for the catering and how you felt the communication was between the facility staff and your team. Have your team admin assistant create a summary of your evaluation to share around the team.
Organising a conference is no small task and having the right people on the ground is half the battle to making it a success.
Choose the right venue, find ways of meeting the needs of your delegates and help choose speakers that make your conference the one to go this conference season.
Start early enough with your preparations and any small issues should be picked up and ironed out along the way.
If you’ve picked your team well and found a conference centre that ticks all the right boxes then conference success is just a day or two away. Stay calm, aim big and let your conference organising abilities shine.