Conference is usually a formal gathering or meeting, which lasts one or more days, and where people participate in discussion or listen to lectures bordering on one or various topics with the aim of learning or obtaining relevant information. Conference may hold monthly, quarterly or annually. Words like symposium, seminars, summits, forum and conventions are usually associated with conference.
Whether you are planning a small or big conference, whether the expected attendees are from within or outside your country, whether the conference is political, business, religious or socio-cultural oriented, there are guidelines or steps on how to go about it. In this article, YoungNigerian.com, brings to you step-by-step tips on how to organise a successful conference.
What Is The Conference All About?
This is the idea development stage. This is where you ask yourself very important questions: what kind of conference am I organising? What name do I call it? What are the aims or objectives of the conference? Who are the target audience? Who are the keynote speakers or facilitators? How many guests or attendees am I expecting or will the conference contain? Where is the most appropriate place to do the conference? Will the conference be free or paid?
Set Up A Conference Committee
Besides having an idea, a formidable team to work with is very important to organising a successful conference. At this stage you bring people in that can help you achieve your goal. You will delegate responsibilities, roles and duties to the people. Usually Conference committee consist of people that can perform variety of duties that cover administration, ticket sales, delegates’ issues, speakers sourcing and follow-up, venue sourcing, etc
Fix A Date For The Conference
The next stage is getting a date for the conference. Experts observe that starting early is one of the secrets to organising a successful conference, as it will provide speakers and attendees sufficient time to prepare. Conference notification and venue booking should be at least six months before the event. More so, in choosing date for the conference, the following should be noted: do not fix conference date during festive periods (except the conference has directly to do with the said festival), political campaigns or elections, public holidays or weekends. Preferably your conference should be between Thursday and Friday, as that will allow attendees to go for site seeing or other tourist activities after the event.
Choose A Suitable Venue
The choice for a venue depends on the kind of conference you are organising and who your attendees are. It also depends on the size of your budget. For a conference that involves students or academics, you may consider university buildings. Other places such as independent venues and hotels are suitable for all kinds of conference though with large budget. More so, in choosing a venue besides costs implication, other areas that need to put into consideration are parking lot, accommodation, catering services. It is important you put the following into consideration, parking lot, accommodation, catering services, conference rooms, lighting and audio system, internet facilities etc. The availability of these in the conference venue helps in having a successful conference. However, where there are absent of parking lot, accommodation or catering services, arrangement should be made elsewhere but very close to the venue.
Make A Budget
Budget is very important to organising a successful conference. It enables you know the amount you are going to spend and helps you know how and where to source for funds. You should have estimates of the amount of money you are going to spend on venue, accommodation, catering services, facilitators (in case you are paying them), accommodation, transportation (flight tickets), feeding, tourism (in case is included in your conference), etc
Seek For Funds
After having a budget, the next stage is to seek for funds. Funds for conference can be sourced in difference ways, thus, personal savings, contribution from friends, association and family members, sponsorship, and partnership. Partnership and sponsorship are the most common.
Partnership is where you ally or collaborate with persons or group or organisation to organise a conference. In most cases you share in the costs and profits from the conference. The contribution of your partner may not necessarily be in cash, it may be in kind. It all depends on your agreement. It is advisable you spell out every detail in writing before going into partnership.
Sponsorship, on the other hand, is when you get finance from partners for your conference. You can decide to sell advert space, stand, or allow your sponsors brand your conference materials, display their logos or products at the venue etc. Sponsors are necessary especially when you do not have money to organise your conference. It helps a great deal in your budget and making your conference not only debt-free but a huge success.
Seeking for partners and sponsors need good marketing skills and ability to present concrete and convincing plans that appeal to any of your target partners and sponsors. It is important you know what they need before contacting them. Contact them at least six months before the event.
Get Renowned Speakers
What makes a conference interesting is the calibre of your speakers. But before you think of sending an invite to anybody to speak on your conference, ensure that you have title and theme for the conference, know also the conference’s objectives and target audience. When that is done, then seek for professionals, industry leaders, accomplished persons or authorities in that particular area or big inspirational headliners. Get their approval to use their names and possibly their pictures for your adverts. However, you must contact them early enough not less than six months before the event and remind them from time to time. Ask what they need and make adequate preparation for their accommodation, transportation, feeding, remuneration and other things that they may need.
Promote The Event
Use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc to promote your event. You can build a dedicated website or blog that talks about your conference or that provide link for registration, inquiries etc.
Invite The Media
Write to media houses, bloggers or freelancers to come and cover the events. Note that your invite must answer what is referred to as the 5Ws – Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Open A Channel For Feedback
Attendees and even your speakers should be encouraged to give you feedback. Let them share their experiences with you and possibly areas that need improvement. This will go a long way when you are organising subsequent conference.
Write to your volunteers, workers, sponsors, attendees and speakers a thank you letter. Show your gratitude and tell them how much you appreciated their contribution to making the conference successful. Do not take whatever contribution, no matter how little, anyone made for granted.
Culled from: www.lane-end-conferences.co.uk