If you are considering hosting a conference, congratulations! As you are getting started, there are many factors to consider! All the different tasks you need to take care of can be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to break them down into small steps so that you’re not trying to accomplish everything all at once at the last minute. That’s why in today’s post, we’ll be going over everything you need to know to plan your best conference. From finding a venue to your post-conference survey we’ll cover every step.
There are several things you’ll need to make a conference successful. These include:
HOW DO YOU PLAN A SUCCESSFUL CONFERENCE?
- Organization: Being organized makes all the difference in conference planning! Setting milestones and having a back up plan for each phase will keep you on track!
- Venue: The location you select will be a key consideration for attendees. Participants will appreciate a convenient location with comfortable rooms and free Wi-Fi. You should have knowledge of the transportation options to hotels from the venue for out-of-towners.
- The Right Team: Most successful conferences have a conference planning team eager to answer questions and direct participants to where they need to be.
- Marketing and Communications: A strong marketing strategy is essential to ensure the best outcome for your conference! You should create interest months before the conference through a series of teaser messages. All marketing materials should complement your conference brand so that people will be able to identify your conference easily.
- Attendees: Consider who is your key audience. To pull off a successful event, you will need to attract your key audience and subject matter experts to present.
- Event Content: Create a content structure that informs prospective attendees of what they can expect from the conference. Announce the speakers and sessions well in advance!
HOW DO YOU WRITE A TIMELINE FOR AN EVENT?
As you start planning your conference, you’ll need to consider the following items:
- What are your goals for this conference?
- What is your budget?
- What format or theme for this year?
- What are your top choices for the venue?
- Who is your key audience for the event?
- Who do you want to speak?
- How do you want to promote the event?
Here is an example timeline you can use to begin your planning process.
TIMELINE FOR PLANNING A CONFERENCE
12 MONTHS AWAY
- Budget: Decide what your overall budget is and how much you plan to spend on each aspect of the event, from the marketing to the catering.
- Roles: Consider which tasks your team will be handling. Who will you invite to speak, and who do you plan to invite as guests?
- Goals: What are your primary objectives? Create a list of what you hope to achieve.
- Venue: Venues book up fast, so you should reserve your ideal location as soon as possible.
- Sponsorship: Create sponsorship packages at a variety of levels and begin soliciting sponsors for the conference. Secure sponsors early to give them awareness on a website and during the event.
- Website: Build a website that includes all the event information, speakers, agenda, FAQs, registration, etc.
6 MONTHS AWAY
- Vendors: Vendors you might need include catering, print services, and AV. Scheduling with them well in advance will secure your dates.
- Marketing: Create your marketing plan. Use social media to get the word out about your event. Ordering large-format graphics can help your event in a big way. Consider options such as banners to hang near the venue to inform people about the conference.
- Find Exhibitors: You may also wish to open up your conference to exhibitors — these are companies who’ll pay a fee or offer you their services in exchange for permission to set up a booth and engage with your attendees.
3 MONTHS AWAY
- Vendors: Confirm the date with each of your vendors. If you’ve previously made a deposit, now is a good time to make the full payment.
- Supplies: To avoid rush costs, you should order your supplies well before the event. You might need badge holders as well as swag like lanyards, pens, and T-shirts.
- Speakers: Confirm that your speakers will be able to attend. If anyone drops out, you should have a backup speaker ready.
- Recruit Volunteers: Plan volunteers to assist you with attendee check in, coat check, managing speakers and exhibitors, set up and tear down. Recruiting volunteers for these and other small tasks will ensure that your conference runs smoothly and that your guests have a positive experience.
1 MONTH AWAY
- Catering: Confirm your catering order. Make sure you have enough food to cover all guests as well as any surprise visitors.
- Schedule: Create a schedule for the day of the event. You should print this on a program to hand out to your guests so that attendees can schedule their breaks accordingly. This schedule will ensure that everything you’ve planned goes smoothly.
- Send Final Reminders:Send out email reminders to all attendees. Share the main contact information should they have any questions or concerns.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
- Send a Survey: Ask attendees about their experience! Create an online survey that asks questions about specific topics like location, food, session and speakers, and general feelings about your conference. All the questions in your survey should help you better understand how you can improve your event. Send the survey the last day of the conference and again following the event.
- Share Resources: Make sure to share session recordings, PowerPoints, photos, and any other resources and videos with your attendees through email and social channels shortly after your conference!