by James Duval
Setting up a business conference is daunting, even for the most experienced professionals. So if it’s your first, it’s natural to feel a bit apprehensive. Holding an event for your industry sector is a great opportunity to form new relationships with customers and contemporaries, but it is important to remember is that the same rules apply as for any other large-scale occasion.
Factors like organization and planning being central, here are some tips to help you make it a success –
- Make sure you have a clear objective in mind; many businesses aim to gain new customers, or to form relationships with other companies.
- Pre-planning is everything. So set up working groups, identifying roles and responsibilities, and setting objectives.
- Agree on a timeframe and major milestones, taking into account everyone’s commitments.
- Make sure to create a Facebook page for the conference and look into using other forms of social media such as Foursquare.
Planning Stage Two
- Produce a venue checklist that details which facilities are essential and desirable for the meeting. Assign somebody the task of researching potential conference locations, assessing availability, and getting quotes. You can then create a shortlist of those that are suitable.
- After checking the availability of guests and speakers, agree on a meeting date. You can then finalize booking arrangements for the venue, speakers, transport, catering, and accommodation.
- Confirm attendance, and send out details of any relevant arrangements. It’s also a good idea to organize some social events for the evening, and drum up some interest from your guests.
The Event Content
- When deciding on the content of your event, you need to have a clear goal in mind. Whether it’s to gain customers or form business relationships, all aspects of the day should be geared towards achieving your objective.
- Focus on your target audience, and tailor your message to them. A jumbled day with lots of irrelevant information will quickly cause people to lose interest. Similarly any entertainment should take into account the type of guests you have invited. For example, bank executives might not be keen on fancy dress and role play.
- Make sure you have a clear timetable prepared, and rigidly stick to it. Leave a small amount of time in between activities to accommodate mishaps.
During The Event
- One of the most common mistakes businesses make is not giving themselves enough preparation time. Make sure you arrive early to make sure everything’s in order, that the rooms are tidy, and that all technology is working.
- Check that the venue is aware of your catering and entertainment arrangements, and confirm that your requirements will be met.
- Don’t forget to station someone at the entrance to welcome guests, and direct them to the right place. Making introductions at this point is a good way to break the ice between those who don’t know each other.
- Encourage people, wherever possible, to promote the event using social media, such as “checking in” on Foursquare, tweeting, or liking the conference page on Facebook.
Always follow up a conference with audience feedback. It’s important to know what you could have done better, so that you can improve on it next time. It also provides an opportunity to get back in touch with guests, and remind them who you are.
By being organized and following these tips you should be able to successfully navigate your way through the conference planning minefield. By treating it as you would any other work project or large-scale event, you can make it seem a lot less daunting.
Have you got any tips to share?
James Duval is a freelance blogger who loves writing about how businesses can utilize the latest technologies to improve their efficiency. He is a regular contributor for GKBC Inc.