Conferences could be a killer to organize – if you’re the head of setting up a conference, there are simply a lot of details you’d need to consider. In spite of this, take heart! Just remember that all it takes would be proper planning and preparation, focusing on the details and breaking down the major tasks into their components, to make them more doable. Be encouraged also by the fact that the greater the challenge is, the greater your rewards and sense of accomplishment once you’ve carried it out with flying colors. That being said, let's look closely at some tips that would help you out if you were about to, or if you’re in the process of, setting up conference events:
The conference venues. One of the very first things you have to set up would be the venue. If your client, company or business has a set venue already, then good. You can focus more on actually preparing this venue. If part of your responsibility would be to choose a venue, then some factors you need to take into consideration for your choice would be: the size and dimensions of the room, its accessibility, the price for the rent, and its general ambiance. Remember to check such peripherals as the restrooms, the power sources, etc.
Once you have the venue decided on, the next thing you should plan for would be the physical set-up. Again, this will depend on factors such as the type of conference (is it a conference meeting, an annual conference, a conference seminar, etc); the number of people to attend; the degree of formality; and the venue itself. Acquire a printed lay-out of the whole venue, to aid you in working with its size and dimensions. Typically, a conference would have the audience sitting down and facing a focal area in front. This front area may have all of the necessary equipment for presenting the data (if the program so requires) such as a white screen for the slideshow presentations; the back area (at the back of the audience) would usually have the supporting hardware such as the computer or laptop and the projector. The amplifiers should be well-distributed around the venue to ensure that everybody in the audience will hear well.
The food. If part of your conference events package is the food, then make sure you get the details down pat: will it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? How many will be eating? What will the menu be (it is highly important that you take into consideration factors such as religion, culture and age group when planning for the menu)? What eating style would take place (buffet style, waiters will serve, etc,)? A general rule during conferences, however, will be to serve finger food and simple beverages. In other words food, whatever won’t be heavy on the stomach – after all, this is not a party or a get-together, but a professional function.
The guests. Make sure that invites are sent within a realistic time frame, well before the actual conference – but not too advanced, as the guests may forget all about it. An acceptable time would be three to four weeks before the event. Make sure that you confirm the attendance, so that you could establish a final list of attendees around two weeks (at the latest) before the event.
Inclement weather and other precautionary measures. Simply stated, it’s important that you anticipate all the possible things that could go wrong during the conference, and then plan for them. If it’s an outdoor conference, for example, plan for tents in case it rains. If there’s a power outage, hire a generator. Get an extra laptop in case the computer doesn’t work.
Hire professional event services. You could choose to outsource all the planning. After all, sometimes it’s best to leave it all to professionals, especially if it’s a huge conference event happening at a 5 star hotel in Las Vegas, for example. You could check out listings of event organizers in your area, or ask for recommendations from your colleagues who have previously taken advantage of such professional services.
Remember, the key here is to plan well! Prepare a conference calendar, which would enable you to organize all your planning and would help you focus on your tasks. When it’s all over, give yourself a pat on the back and congratulate yourself for a job well done!