Whether you’re planning a conference that’s brand new or one that has been happening for years, you’ll want to make sure that you follow best practices to create an event that your attendees will want to return to year after year.
Planning a great conference takes time, though, and requires a strong plan. Use these tips below to get started.
1. Have a Clear Vision
Before you do anything else, you need a clear vision. What is the goal of your conference? Who do you anticipate attending? What type of content or services are you going to provide?
Having a clear vision of what you want your conference to achieve is necessary, as that vision should inform all of the other decisions you make about the event, such as the day or dates it will be held, where it will be held, and what kind of audience you want to attract.
2. Ensure That the Venue is Conference-Friendly
It’s likely you’ve been to a conference or two in a venue that just wasn’t right for that type of event. Presentation rooms way too far away from each other, not enough space for networking, poor acoustics, a lack of AV equipment, and unhelpful venue staff can all have a significant negative impact on your conference.
No matter how good the content, conference attendees will likely remember the negatives and not want to come to your event in the future if the venue isn’t right. Make sure the venue has experience hosting conferences and has the right amenities, such as comfortable meeting rooms, working AV equipment, space for networking, and well-marked locations throughout the event.
3. Create a Clear Content Plan
If your conference attendees are coming to the conference to gain new knowledge, you need a clear content plan to present to potential attendees.
If this is a recurring event, ask previous conference-goers what kind of content they are looking for. If it’s a new event, talk to other stakeholders and influencers in your field to determine what kind of content will be best received.
Determining the content you want to present will inform your decision on speakers, breakout sessions, and workshops.
4. Give Attendees Networking Opportunities Before, During, and After the Conference
Your attendees need the opportunity to network with others before, during, and after the conference. Ahead of time, provide a website where attendees can see who else will be attending and get in touch with them.
During the conference, provide ample networking space, and afterward, make sure you give them some way to easily find those whom they may have met at the conference. Consider an app or website to accomplish this.
Check out this article to find out how businesses can turn conference attendees into sales leads.
5. Plan Your On-Site Details
Once all of the big-picture details are decided, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and plan all of the on-site details. If you’ve selected an experienced venue, they’ll likely be able to provide the lead on this as it’s something they do day after day.
This is where an event planning background will help, as these details include things like presentation room set-up, navigating the venue, and providing networking and break spaces.
Planning a Conference to Wow Your Attendees
The last thing you want to do when planning a conference is to drop the ball, leaving attendees with a bad taste in their mouth, vowing to never return. Using this list of tips to get started can ensure that this does not happen. Whether the conference will be an annual event or held every few years, you want them to keep coming back!
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