If you’re involved in the world of event management and production, it’s inevitable you will get the opportunity to organize a business conference. They come in many forms and are aimed at different target audiences or target markets but their essential purpose remains the same – creating the setting for exchanging knowledge and experience, as well as forming new partnerships and cooperation through face-to-face interaction.
As there has been an increase in the need for organizing these events, it is only smart to be prepared in order to set up a successful business conference, so here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Be clear with the “why” and recognizable with the “who”
From the very start, it is necessary to have a clear goal of the conference; one that would also be clear to everybody included.
Define the purpose – is it raising funds for a specific project or to transfer knowledge to participants? Is it to amaze the guests with aesthetically pleasing surroundings?
Once you identify the purpose, you will know which direction to go in terms of format, namely its timing, duration, concept and other aspects, such as catering and the layout. This is where you need to differ from the traditional – get inspiration from TED format, open-air events or PechaKucha; actually, from everything unconventional.
The next step is to spread the news about the goal of the conference in the right way – smart branding and thematic transparency are the keys here. Come up with a catchy name and logo that attract the attention of the target audience.
Once you have their attention, be clear about the purpose of the conference and its importance. If people make a connection between your conference and successful branding, your recognizable identity will carry on serving you in the future.
2. The trick is to be prepared for the unprepared
Your budget has to be your backup. You need to have a clear insight into how big it should be, so do the calculations regarding every task and come up with an as precise budget as possible. Don’t forget to include unforeseeable expenses – they will probably happen and you need to be ready to handle them financially as well.
There are various budget templates online at your disposal to make things easier and clearer for you.
A major unforeseeable event is having to change the location in the last moment – you ALWAYS need to have a location B prepared. Accidents happen, people don’t do what they have been told, weather changes – you need to have the alternative ready to go.
3. No man is an island – allocate responsibilities
At the very preparation stage, it is of utmost importance to distribute tasks to your team members – you can’t handle everything on your own.
You could try out allocating by zones – for example, registration zone for registration documents and fees; the speaker zone for communicating with the speakers and arranging private jet flights for them; catering zone for handling the food and beverages, etc. The person responsible for a specific zone should stick to it not just during the preparations stage but to the very end of the conference. They should also know who to contact regarding a specific issue.
Bear in mind that everybody included in the organization have to be friendly to the speakers, participants, and partners, no matter how tired they are. In the end, the attendees will remember how they were treated, not all the details they heard from the stage.
4. The beauty is in the details
A successful conference is comprised of tiny details that are as inventive as they are carefully planned. Don’t skip any of the steps; pay attention to everything, from the way the attendees will register, how you will greet participants to what type of music will be playing, how your team will be dressed and what type of entertainment you will have during breaks.
The options are various for every step – for example, the participants can be offered to play games during breaks or even watch an information video during the registration process.
The point is to surprise your guests in a good way and make them wait for other surprises to come.
5. Don’t shy away from the evaluation of your business conference
When the conference is over, it doesn’t mean that your part of the job is done, too. You should provide a way for the participants to give you feedback on the conference.
Choose the most suitable option, whether it is an online survey, a suggestion box in the hall or a staff meeting afterward. It can even be done through social networks or through a video review recorded at the end.
The evaluation is not meant to spread negative criticism but for you to identify what you have done right and what could go smoother the next time you organize a networking event.
The evaluation should include different aspects of the conference, including logistics, location, speakers and the work of your team. It is the only way you can improve in all directions and raise the bar when it comes to quality.
Even though something was neatly done, it doesn’t mean that there is not a better way to do it – you won’t know it until you ask the ones for whom it was all made.
Organizing a business conference is a complex endeavor that involves various aspects. It requires planning ahead and being prepared for unpleasant surprises; it means being innovative and unpredictable; it means minding the small things as well as the big ones, and it means being ready to learn and to improve constantly.
So, if you don’t think you’ve learned everything there is to organize a business conference – start now!
Featured image credit: Unsplash.com
Nina is a blogger, digital nomad, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas.