There is no need for you to reinvent the wheel when organising a conference. However, it is a good idea to venture off the beaten track and avoid the many age-old pitfalls. Luckily, we have compiled a list of 7 do’s and don’ts for you.
1. Choose one target audience to focus your conference’s content on. Then, determine your event’s objective. What do you want to have achieved by the end of it? Adjust the contents and format accordingly. Who knows, your message might come across better with a corporate festival?
2. Send a save-the-date notice well in advance, about three months ahead of time. Then send the final invite six weeks before the event. In the invite, mention what the conference is all about, what people will gain from it, where it will take place, and how to sign up. Pass on any other details later on.
3. Involve your (potential) guests in developing your programme. This will not only ensure that the conference’s programme is more relevant for them, but will also help them feel more involved. This is one of many different ways to minimise no-show.
4. Communicate in a personal manner. For example, invite your guests by way of a video instead of an email or letter. Moreover, always make sure that you address the guests personally in any (digital) communications, and react quickly to any questions and comments from (potential) guests. Better communication about the event in the preparatory process will result in better sentiment among people regarding your event.
5. Play the event in your head like a film. How do you enter, where do you go then, what will you need as visitor? This will allow you to tackle any gaps in your playbook beforehand. For example, is there sufficiently clear signage?
6. Record the conference using video and photography of the highest possible level. For example, how about a live stream? The live images will allow you to get potential guests excited about participating much more easily next time around.
7. Get back in touch with your guests after the conference has ended. Sending out a brief survey will send the message that you want to listen to what your guests have to say, and a post-event movie or a photo gallery will enable your guests to relive a successful event.
1. Do not schedule your conference between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM, because that would cause many of your visitors to be stuck in traffic. Also, refrain from a standard programme consisting of reception, speakers, a break, more speakers, and then drinks. Scientific research shows that it is better for you to divide a full-day programme into three or four highlights with moments of relaxation in between.
2. Do not overwhelm your (potential) guests with messages about the event. Carefully choose a select number of moments for informing your guests beforehand, and always make sure to mention a new bit of information in every message.
3. Do not allow guests to hang up their coats before they register; most queues at registration desks are the result of people leaving their (e-) tickets in their coat pockets.
4. Illegible badges are about as useful as coffee without the cup. Therefore, provide large badges with a legible font and/or assign the same badge colour to guests who are involved in the same field.
5. Empty rows at the front of the room give a bad impression, so engage a hostess (or better yet, a member of the management team or board) to escort guests to the first few rows.
6. Do not wait until the day of the event itself to test your presenter’s skills. There is nothing worse than seeing your presenter cast a looming shadow on the projection screen, a buggy microphone, or a PowerPoint featuring full-length sentences in font size 12.
7. If you feel it is important for new contacts to be established, do not allow networking moments to turn into mere pleasant drinks events. There are plenty of tools, apps, and simple concepts for supporting guests as they engage in networking.