Saying that organizing a conference is not easy is the understatement of the century. The amount of work required, the logistics, multitasking, the entire process can take months, sometimes even years to set up properly. We understand how stressful and difficult this can be, and that you have a need to make things be perfect. However, this carries with it a potential danger of leading you towards over analyzing, missing the forest for the trees. So, with all that being said, we wrote up this short little guide on how to organize the conference. Only once you have mastered and set up the elements from below so we suggest you start thinking about adding anything more.
Target audience and vision
The first thing you need to take into consideration when planning an event is your target audience. What is the vision of your conference, what is its theme? A scientific seminar on cancer research will not have the same feeling and atmosphere a networking event for fashion designers will. This will basically influence every subsequent decision you make.
This will also help you understand the scope of your work. How large of an audience do you need? Will it be party-oriented, or will you have a number of seminars and lectures set up?
Essentially, what do you want to achieve with this conference, and what do you want your visitors and audience to achieve and feel? Once you know the answer to this question your work will be pretty much set up.
Now, the second most important part, and probably the most difficult – funding. Basically, figure out how much everything will cost, and think about how much money you can realistically get. Have a clear, detailed budget on paper.
Sadly, understanding how to network is a big part of getting the right funding. Things like these are not based on merit and quality, sadly. You need to get out there and mingle with the right people. Fortunately, sometimes you can get some funding and subsidies form relevant originations. Scientific conferences can be financed by grants and education authorities and institutions. Be bold, try contacting some international organizations if you have the option.
You can also explore other avenues of financing. Participation and entrance fees are a good way to get money, but it’s up to you, depending on your type of business, to decide how viable this actually is. Maybe sponsorship can help you out.
Choose a venue
Once you understand what you want to achieve, and understand how much money you have to achieve it, it’s time to choose the right location and services. Namely, the venue for your conference is very important. First, physically, it needs to house the right number of people. Having too many empty seats will make you seem unprofessional, and will be a waste of money. And of course, not enough seats will severely annoy any visors left hanging.
You also need to provide accommodations for all visitors. The actual hotel also needs to be close to the venue, since you don’t want visitors in an unfamiliar town (and maybe even country) walk around, spending hours trying to find the location of the conference.
You also need to get the word out that you’re hosting this conference. Investing in your marketing efforts is a vital part of the entire organization process. So, take into consideration who you are aiming for. Then, tailor your marketing efforts in that direction. For example, align at young professionals will best be done why working on your online marketing. Things like having well-written content made by expert copywriters can do wonders. Hiring a good video production company, like Alpha Omega Video, means you can have video content as part of your marketing as well.
You should also explore avenues that are directly tied to the topic of the conference. So, let the word out in the right academic circles that you are setting up a conference tied to that line of work. Have universities let the word out. Word of mouth matters much more than regular marketing when it comes to niche topics and fields.
Logistics and guides
Finally, logistics. Understand that staying calm under pressure is vital for the success of your conference. And a big part of handling stress in situations like these is handling logistics and planning in advance. So, have very clear guides and instructions for everything from how people are supposed to reach their hotels and the venue, to how to reach the right room in the conference venue. Of course, have an exact itinerary set out so that people know exactly when a certain lecture is starting, and when it’s time for lunch. Basically, every area where things can go wrong, or where people can get confused, should be in some way or another delegated or planned out.
And there you have it, folks, a quick, short guide on how to organize your conference. No matter what the topic at hand is, there are some rules that are universal. First, have a clear idea on what kind of conference you’re setting up, and who is your target audience. Then, work towards getting the budget and funding just right. Choose the right venue, and set up the right marketing strategy. Finally, properly set up logistics are key to staying calm under pressure, and having everything go smoothly.