Planning a Speakers Conference
Article by Dave Matthews
If you are looking to inform and provoke discussion of new ideas around your industry then organising a speakers conference could be the ideal solution. Conferences bring similarly minded people together and provide a forum for people to make new contacts as well as strengthen existing long-standing business relationships. If you host a well organised speakers conference it can really enhance the reputation and finances of your organisation. Here we show you how.
You need to plan well in advance and organise a planning committee up to a year before the conference is due to take place. A typical planning committee will include individuals who are industry experts relating to the conference theme. You will need someone to organise conference logistics and the committee will name the conference, determine the subjects to be discussed, dates, duration, estimated audience size as well as registration costs.
When calculating your budget be sure to include the price of the venue, equipment (both audio & visual), catering and the cost of the speakers themselves along with their travel costs. Also include any costs involved with marketing and advertising.
When choosing a venue, you may find that hotels are a popular choice as staff are used to hosting events of all sizes and types. You will find that popular hotels are booked a year in advance so bear this in mind, even if you are planning way ahead of time. If you manage to get the gotel that you want then try to negotiate a deal on room rental as there will often be flexibility on price. If you decide on a different type of venue then take extra consideration when it comes to providing catering and setting up equipment.
Contact your speakers to get the title and summaries of their talks. Advice each of the speakers of any event logistics and requirements for their talks.
Set up some sort of online registration for participants and attendees. Remember to include an option for mail-in registration. Your conference website should include details of conference content and any other details of the event, such as how to get there. It is also worth including the contact details of other local hotels for the benefit of attendees who are likely to be travelling a fair distance to get there.
You will then need to put the conference marketing plan into action. This will include the creation and deployment of any digital printed material. Compile your mailing list for both email and postal campaigns, all of which should target the main demographic for your conference.
One of the final tasks will be to prepare the on-site strategy for the conference. This will include organising the check-in for registrants, any conference materials, staffing and a message centre (if required). It is important that you plan to have an event committe staff member on site at all times so that any organisational queries from attendees and hotel staff can be answered. Members of the organising committee should also be present on the day in order to welcome and 'host' the speakers.
Feedback for future events is invaluable so prepare a conference evaluation sheet for registrants to rate the quality of the event and to offer their suggestions for improvements.
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