Arranging a conference can be a very daunting task. There are so many things to be taken into consideration that it can be easy to miss out a vital component. Pre-planning is all important and two of the most important questions to ask are what is the purpose of the conference, ie what do you hope to achieve from it and how best to run the conference so that you achieve your goal.
Conferences are arranged for a number of purposes – it may be briefing staff, launching new products, initiating policies, building morale, exchanging information or a mix of all of these. Keeping the purpose in mind will assist in planning the method of how the conference will achieve this.
Once the reason or purpose of the conference has been agreed, then it is time to plan the date, time and duration of the conference. When selecting a date, be sure to leave enough time for the attendees, presenters and yourself to plan ahead. Also bear in mind that venues do get booked up well in advance so it is advisable to plan well ahead for a successful event to ensure that you do get the right venue to suit your requirements. You will also need to identify the intended audience, how far they will have to travel and whether there are any special requirements at the conference eg wheelchair access.
Next you must determine the most appropriate topics that will address the conference purposes. Select presenters and activities that can help achieve the conference purpose.
Selecting the most appropriate venue can be one of the most difficult elements if a successful conference, although there are now some excellent Venue Finding companies who can help to ease this burden. Points to consider when choosing the venue are:
§ Location – How far will delegates have to travel? How far from the nearest train station or airport? Are there good transport links?
§ Capacity – Ensure that the venue can provide for the number of attendees in your preferred set-up eg Cabaret style, Classroom style, Theatre Style
§ Facilities – can the venue provide full AV, screens, boards, flipcharts and writing materials
§ Accommodation – Can the venue provide for all delegates either in single rooms, twins etc and is the accommodation convenient for the conference venue
§ Budget – in the current economic situation, budget has never been more closely scrutinised. Can the venue work with you or your venue finder to offer the best rates?
§ Conference Support – it always helps to have a conference co-ordinator at the venue as they are familiar with the venue and can assist with the finer points of the conference
§ Extra Curricular Activities – after a long day at conference, it is sometimes good to be able to offer your delegates some light relief. Can the venue suggest any team-building activities perhaps?
Once you have completed the above steps, all that is left is to promote the conference. Invitations should be sent to presenters and attendees in addition to posters around the work place. Fine tune the final details such as the order of conference, confirmations, name badges, table arrangements if applicable and catering options.
Now you are ready for a successful conference!
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