If you have ever organised a conference, you know that not everything runs to plan and you have to face various challenges. The planning of a conference takes a lot of dedicated time and attention to detail. Planning a conference can be a daunting task, but it should not have to be if you use this easy to follow checklist.
- Define the purpose of your conference
Defining the purpose of your conference is the first step in planning a successful conference. Do you need to engage in team building activities? Introduce a new product? Motivate the sales force? Knowing what you want to accomplish with your conference will help to save time, money, and energy.
- Create your wish list
Decide what you would like your conference to look like. What content would you like? Make notes on details such as speakers, location, food, activities, and participants.
- Create a budget
Having a budget is very important in determining how much of your wish list you can meet. Create a list of everything you need, and then estimate how much everything will cost. This will require some research beforehand. Remember to include expenses such as stationary, thank you gifts, travel, etc. Allow extra money in the budget that will cover any unforeseen costs that could pop up.
- Choose a date
It is important to start planning your conference at least a year in advance. This will give you ample time to work out the logistics in order to choose a suitable date. It is a good idea to research availability dates for venues that can accommodate the number of people you want and who have the facilities that you may need. You will also need to know the availability of vendors and speakers if required.
- Find a suitable venue
Have a look at various venues and compare rates and services offered. Most venues would also want you to use their in-house services such as catering and audio-visual facilities. When choosing a venue remember to choose something that will fit in with your budget, style, and space requirements. Take into consideration such things as Internet access, sound systems, tables and chairs, etc. Look at if you need accommodation for participants and speakers.
- Engage your major speakers or presenters
Do your research to find speakers that will offer exactly what you are looking for. Look for speakers that are engaging, exciting, and knowledgeable on what is being presented at the conference. A speaker can make or break your conference, so choose wisely. When communicating with speakers give them plenty of information so that they can customise their comments to suit your audience.
- Set the agenda
Setting an agenda is important so that everyone knows the timeline of the conference. Make sure it is as detailed as possible. Schedule a mix of formal speakers, small group workshops, and free networking time. Ensure that participants are fed every few hours with a full meal and small snacks in between. Make sure everyone is given a copy of the agenda.
- Market the conference
You need to market your conference to ensure that people will attend. Use every avenue you can to market your conference. This could include advertising, emails, social media, etc. Keeping your marketing fresh will keep your conference foremost in peoples’ minds. Attendance is the single most important factor to the success of your conference. Good attendance numbers bring revenue and sponsorship opportunities.
- Planning on-site details
Have a look at your venue and make sure it offers everything that you need. Ensure that all equipment can fit through the doors and has an area where it can be set up. Have a look at where snack tables can be set up. Do site inspections and a detailed walk-through of your conference from start to finish. Be as critical as possible during the walk-through in order to anticipate and solve any issues, as they should arise. Think about every small detail that the will guarantee a successful conference.
- Evaluate your conference
After the conference, it is important to ask for feedback. Have your participants fill out a paper or electronic evaluation form and look for common pieces of feedback. Ask them to assess various aspects of the conference: logistics, speakers, locations, and the work of the organisers. This will help you to see where you succeeded, and where you did not. What people liked, and what they did not. This information will help you prepare for the planning of your next conference.
Why choose Mashovhela Bush Lodge
Mashovhela Bush Lodge is a perfect location to choose to host your conference. The setting is peaceful and tranquil, with warm weather all year round. We offer both indoor and outdoor conference setup, allowing you the choice of the perfect venue for your conference. On-site facilities include pens and paper, DVD and Video players, projector screens, and WiFi just to name a few. Our facilities are also wheelchair friendly, so no one should feel excluded. We also offer catering, and professional staff are on hand to help. Mashovhela Bush Lodge has got all of your conference needs covered.
By following these 10 steps, you can rest easy knowing that you are armed with the knowledge to plan a successful conference.