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Planning an Engaging Conference

on Friday, 18 March 2016. Posted in News Archive

Conferences offer a great opportunity for people who share similar interests and passions to meet

Planning an engaging conference

A successful conference leaves you feeling re-energized, inspired and thriving with enthusiasm, overflowing with ideas. When planning a conference you should always have the end goal in mind, which is why it’s important to consider how you want people to feel when they leave.

Preparation

Organising a conference is no easy task, so never underestimate the work involved. There is no such thing as being over-prepared.

It's always a good idea to get some helping hands on board; if there is someone reliable that is willing to get involved, take them up on their offer. Asides from sharing the work load, it is great to have someone else to bounce off and keep you motivated.

Secure your speakers early on, before someone else does. Speakers are booked very early, so if you want to find a decent speaker make sure you plan ahead.

Be clear on your budget and don’t make any promises you can’t keep. Putting on a conference is a costly endeavour and however extravagant you want it to be, you still need to be realistic.

Get the conference venue right because comfort is crucial! Often, people focus so much on the content of a conference they overlook the basics; however great your content and agenda is, no one will be paying attention if they are distracted by their aching backsides and the stuffy temperature of the room. If you are expecting people to sit in a room for an extended period of time, you need to ensure they will be comfortable. To guarantee your guests comfort, be sure to research and book a quality venue that will accommodate for your needs.

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Delivery

When it comes to the day of the conference it’s imperative you start your day off with the right attitude: determined, positive and enthusiastic. As it’s often the speaker’s job to motivate and inspire your guests, it falls to you to motivate your speakers; if you can ensure the speakers go on stage feeling confident and valued then they will deliver.

As the host, it’s your responsibility to make sure you look after your speakers and guests, and ensure everything runs smoothly. Your preparation should have primed you for this; as long as you have done enough preparation everything should run smoothly on the day.

To avoid any confusion, be clear on the agenda and make sure everyone else is.

Remember to take photos/videos of the event which can later be used for promotion. You could even get one of the speakers to take a photo of everyone in the room and then tweet this with a dedicated hashtag. By then encouraging everyone to retweet and share this online, they will not only be engaged but you've also managed to utilize the power of social media to gain free promotion.

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Follow Up

It’s crucial to promptly follow up the conference with an email, thanking your guests for their attendance and contribution, but also to keep them engaged and interested in future events. If you are going to thank them for attending, why not thank them in person? At the top of the email, embed a brief engaging video of yourself/your team (whoever the face of your conference is), thanking everyone for attending and announcing the next event. Try to keep this between 20-30 seconds so you don’t bore the users.

If you already have another event planned, be sure to inform your guests at the conference and via email, and offer them some kind of incentive. In the email include the key points from the conference and any relevant materials to refresh memories. To keep them engaged, include a blog or vlog on a relevant topic that wasn't discussed at the conference; they may even go on to share this content, affording you free promotion.

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