Conferences provide unique opportunities for like-minded people to get together and do business. Whether it is listening to presentations on the latest design trends, or meeting potential business partners over a coffee in the lobby, the benefits of holding a conference for a trade organisation or interest groups are huge.
If you are thinking of setting up a conference for you particular industry there are many different things that you will have to consider. It makes sense to gather together as much help as possible and make the most of your existing contacts in order to make an event a success. Here are some of the key things to consider when establishing a new conference for the first time.
First of all you have to consider why you want to hold a conference. What is your target audience and why will they want to pay good money to attend your event? It is up to the organisers to make an event as enticing as possible to potential attendees. Think about the types of things that the target audience might find useful and be interested in and then work on ways in which to fulfil these needs. A conference usually attracts some pretty intelligent and powerful people in the fields that are being targeted, so it is important to recognise the right level to pitch your products to.
A good conference requires good speakers, but they have to provide some knowledge or information that the guests will find useful. Stephen Fry may be an excellent public speaker but he is unlikely to have much relevant professional information and experience to share with an audience full of accountants. It is easy to go overboard and blow your budget when hiring speakers, so make sure that you don’t spend more than you can afford to lose. A star name will always draw in the crowds, but don’t leave yourself at risk of financial ruin.
The venue is another incredibly important ingredient in holding a successful conference. Is it easy to get to? Is there plenty of parking available? Are there facilities to help the disabled get around? As an organiser it is your job to make life as easy as possible for the people attending. They want to network, gain knowledge, and possibly have a bit of fun in the process. They do not want to be stuck in traffic jams whilst waiting for a space in the car park.
You can book the best speaker in the world, but if the audience are forced to sit on uncomfortable chairs there is nothing that you can do to stop them fidgeting. Make sure you book a venue with comfortable seats. If you are hosting the event at a non-conference venue, think about buying in some professional seating. The seats will be able to be used time and time again, and your guests will appreciate not having to shift their weight all the time when listening!
About the Author – Sarah Makinson is an experience conference host. She uses sites such as www.styleseating.co.uk to ensure that her conferences are as comfortable as possible.