How to organize a conference

Organizing a conference can be a difficult task if we do not carefully approach this issue. Most of all, it is imperative that we thoroughly plan every important aspect related to the conference, including such things as: the budget, the place, the list o

Organizing a conference can be a difficult task if we do not carefully approach this issue. Most of all, it is imperative that we thoroughly plan every important aspect related to the conference, including such things as: the budget, the place, the list of participants, accompanying attractions, etc.

Only a well-prepared conference plan can ensure success which we understand here as a good organization of such a business meeting. Thanks to planning, we can prepare ourselves for every possibility, and even the most uncommon surprises. Good conference organization means skillful combining of several elements so that they form a cohesive structure. There is no doubt that an ideal conference must be the result of the work of the entire team – a team in which every member pursuits the same goal and supports his or her teammates in the very same effort. What else should we know about detailed conference planning? We will discuss this issue in the next few lines.

Staying in touch with potential participants

The participants of a conference are its most important elements, therefore, it is essential to maintain as best relations with them as possible. We have to develop such a channel of communication that would allow us to easily pass on new information and, at the same time, receive responses. A purpose-built conference website with news updates can serve as such a channel of communication. It is up to the organizers to decide whether or not the participants will be informed about the changes as quickly as possible.

Financial matters

The conference budget can substantially limit the scope of our planning. Therefore, it must be stated that financial matters are the key factor that determines our actions on the way to organizing an ideal conference. Many specialists claim that they are able to organize a conference regardless of the amount of money they are given. They say that budget, even if it is very small, cannot stand in the way of organizing an ideal conference. After all, what counts is the information exchange and knowledge sharing and not the level of hotel accommodation, and the quality of the meals served during the brakes in discussions. If we focus on the most important issues, it will turn out that we are able to organize an outstanding conference without a huge budget.

On the other hand, a small conference budget will result in a very basic level of organization. It will be a minimum which must be met. A big budget grants more freedom. We can organize some accompanying attractions like a concert or a display. There is the possibility to book high class hotel rooms for every member of our conference, or organize catering. However, all these are optional features.

Large funds devoted to the organization of a conference are very helpful in preparing conference materials and creating advertisements aimed at a target group of people. Thanks to significant amounts of money, the main organizer of a conference can have more freedom in his planning and can have the luxury of a large margin of error. If there is even as much as a hint that we can receive more funds for our conference, we should do whatever it takes to acquire this additional money.

Additional financial support for the organization of a conference can be acquired from many European Union funds or sponsors who are somehow related to the topic of the conference or the market it is devoted to. The conference will prove to be an interesting advertising opportunity for them, and they will eagerly provide the necessary financial support. However, if our conference budget is limited to a certain extent, we have to search for ways to make the necessary cuts, e.g., if we search for a room for our conference, we should not agree on the very first that meets our requirements. Instead, we should search for at least a few offers of similar places. Thanks to such an approach, we will surely pick the most financially reasonable option.

A good method of reducing costs is to organize conferences outside the summer and winter seasons because the prices of hotel rooms are much higher during these periods. It is better to organize a conference in spring or in autumn. After all, weather is not too important in this case.

Meals for the members of a conference

As conference organizers, we should make sure that all participants are served meals during the meeting. If the conference lasts for several days, we have to organize some accommodation for the night for everyone.

It would be great to employ a very good catering company that would prepare tasty meals for every person involved in the conference. Types of dishes should be adjusted to the character of a given conference. If it is a morning session, we should not serve a roast or a turkey. Instead, we should focus on some light food. Before choosing a restaurant or a catering company for our conference, we should find some information about their reputation and taste the meals they serve. In this way, we will make sure that we made the right choice.

The registration of the members of a conference

Nowadays, when virtually everybody has access to the Internet and many people make active use of this medium of communication, nothing stands in the way to carry out registration procedures by means of a website. Conference registration should be announced a few weeks before the meeting. This will help us monitor how many people would like to become participants.

Making preliminary reservations of places in a conference is a very good idea. On the other hand, our potential participants may not rush to register early – we might have to mobilize them. Indecisive people may have a negative impact on the organization of the whole conference, therefore, the registration procedures must not be left for the last moment. If we wait for too long, it may turn out eventually that we have too few or too many participants. In the latter case, we might not be able to create suitable conditions for every conference member. It is best to close the registration at least two weeks before the day of the meeting.

The costs of participating in a conference

Usually, those who wish to participate in a conference have to pay for this opportunity. The costs of such a meeting should be considered very carefully. They should not be too high because that could discourage potential participants, and, on the other hand, they should not be too low if we do not want to pay ourselves some additional money to keep the conference running.

The organization of payment for all services related to the conference (e.g. accommodation) must be in agreement with law. Therefore, it is best to acquire the necessary legal knowledge beforehand, or ask a legal advisor. If we do so, we will not have problems with the Treasury or other finance related departments.

If we come to the conclusion that we are not able to cope with all the financial matters related to our conference, we should engage in cooperation with a tax advisor who would take on this responsibility.

Prepare yourself for surprises

We should never assume that everything during a conference will go according to plan. There is always the possibility that some unexpected events and unpleasant surprises which are beyond our influence will appear. Even those who organize large conferences on an international scale sometimes face difficult situations, yet they are able to cope with them. How is that possible? It is all about preparing ourselves for the unexpected.

The most important thing is to have the essential points of a conference and its organization prepared. If every key element is in place, small oversights, even in large numbers, will not ruin the organization of a meeting.

The technical support of a conference

Nowadays, all materials and presentations that appear during conferences are presented by means of computers. Therefore, it is imperative that the hardware works flawlessly. To make ourselves prepared for technical problems that may arise during a meeting, we should employ a group of skilled IT specialists that will take care of the computers and the audiovisual equipment essential for the conference.

Planning a conference

As with any other undertaking, a well-prepared plan is the key to a conference’s success. All of our conference related actions depend on the form and the level of detail of the plan. While planning a conference, first of all, we should make a clear list of all of its aims and make sure that they are fully achieved. All of the most important matters should be included in such a plan. These matters include:

the budget

the place of the conference

the date

the method(s) of participant registration

accompanying attractions

catering

the advertising of the conference

the cost of the conference in relation to the participants, etc.

The plan should be flexible, with many possible scenarios. If we prepare it with such an approach, we will be able to anticipate how the organization will look like, and hence, we will be able to carry out the meeting under various conditions.

Advertising a conference

The advertising of a conference among the interested group is a very important element. If we do not pay enough attention to advertising it may turn out that few people will come. Such an undertaking should be given adequate prestige. In short, we have to do as much as possible to promote our meeting and to make people actively interested in taking part in it. It would be good to find supporters for the meeting, and it would be best if they were native for the city in which the conference is to take place. Posters, leaflets, and similar advertising methods will also prove to be necessary. Another good idea is to organize a press conference about the event. Thanks to such actions we will ensure the proper advertising of our meeting.

By following the hints found in this article, you will be able to organize a conference which will not only prove to be profitable for your business, but will also remain in the memory of the participants. In consequence, they will be more than eager to take part in your next conferences. Moreover, by organizing similar meetings in the future, you will gain more experience and it will be much easier for you to carry out such events perfectly.