No matter the size of the conference, organising everything so that it goes off without a hitch takes some considerable skill. There are the guest speakers to accommodate, the event space to set up and any number of attendees to seat, as well as catering to provide for everybody, technology to check on and usually a tight schedule to stick to.
Whether you’re running a local literature fair for 50 people or a national business conference for 5000, many of the responsibilities remain the same. Due to the sheer number of hats that an event organiser must wear, it can be easy to forget a vital part of any conference: fun. That’s right, even the driest subject matter needs to be made interesting for attendees, or all that hard work will be for nothing. Ideally, you want your conference to be an enjoyable event, one that people walk away from feeling refreshed, inspired and ready to get to work.
With this goal in mind, here are some top tips for ensuring that your conference ends on a high note rather than being best left forgotten.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The number one most helpful thing that you can do when put in charge of organising a conference is to plan. If you have planned for every possible eventuality, then you will already have a blueprint that you can whip out when the need arises. Keynote speaker pulled out? Never fear, you have a backup option. Technology on the fritz? Not a problem, you have an alternative ready to go. Having a well thought out plan in place also means that everything should run much more smoothly on the day as you have already thought about scheduling, logistics and troubleshooting. Of course, it’s impossible to plan for absolutely every possibility, but if you have the most likely scenarios covered, then you should be able to deal with anything the day throws at you. All in all, this approach will make the conference far more enjoyable for attendees and ensure that they walk away smiling rather than with a frown on their faces.
Provide Regular Breaks
As we’re speaking of scheduling, it is imperative that you include breaks in the official conference agenda. This is not just for the benefit of the attendees (though they’ll thank you for it) but is also so that you and your staff have time to fetch people, move things around and generally set up in between each speech or activity. It should come as no surprise that providing free WiFi at your conference venue can make this whole process a lot easier. A free internet connection means that attendees can check in on the latest news via YouTube, play a few quick games at Pokerstarscasino or post a selfie on their Instagram account to advertise their attendance at the conference. They can stay occupied and keep networking, even in between events, whilst your staff work hard to keep things running smoothly. Breaks also give attendees important time to rest their brains and their eyes, and to absorb everything that they’ve heard so far. We promise that it’ll make for much higher satisfaction ratings from everyone.
Consider the Catering
If you’ve ever heard the saying that an army marches on its stomach, then you’ll know where we’re heading with this next piece of advice. Even though conferences often involve a lot of sitting around and listening to different speakers, they can still be tiring work. Attendees might not be getting much of a physical workout, but they are taxing their brains more so than in the average working day. Therefore, they need adequate refreshments provided throughout the day in order to keep functioning at optimal levels. The better the quality and quantity of the food you provide, the happier all of your guests will be. After all, conferences can often last quite a long time and begin early in the morning. Attendees may need caffeine first thing to give them a boost, and then healthy slow release energy as the rest of the event unfolds to keep them going until home time. Consider all of these factors when you are deciding how much of your budget to spend on catering, and which catering firm to hire. It makes a real difference.
Check Audio/Visual Tech
One final point, and this time it’s about technology. Of course, we all know that at least one thing is bound to go wrong with the tech set-up on the day and all you can do is dispatch an engineer as quickly as possible. But before it gets to that point, ensure that you are using the appropriate audio/visual technology both for the size of the conference and for the variety of different people attending. Make sure to offer accessible options to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, as well as to people who have mobility issues or physical disabilities. People’s experience of the event will be much more enjoyable if they are easily able to engage with everything that’s happening, and feel included, welcomed and well provided for.