If you’re in charge of hosting a conference for your job or a professional organization, you may be overwhelmed by the responsibility. Use this guide to simplify the process and create a conference you can be proud of.
Pick Your Location
Where is your conference going to be? Some conferences have to take place in a certain area, whereas others can be wherever is most convenient and affordable. For example, if you’re hosting a gathering for different branches of your company, you should hold it near the main branch or in the middle of all of them. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a knitting convention for an organization with members all across the country, your location is less important. Just make sure that your venue has enough conference rooms for all your participants.
Who is going to speak at your event? Perhaps your organization’s leaders are going to say a few words as you gather in conference rooms Oslo, or maybe you want an outside expert in your field to speak. Professional motivational speakers are also popular. Before you announce your schedule, identify your top choices for speakers and send them invitations. If appropriate, include details about payment. Make sure to identify a few backups in case someone is busy or uninterested.
Create Your Schedule
When is your conference going to happen, and how long is it going to last? If you’re bringing in people from more than two hours away, it should last for at least two full days to make up for their travel time. You need plenty of activities to fill up this timeframe:
- Teambuilding activities
- Small group discussions
Leave time in your schedule for participants to mingle and relax, and if you’re in a tourist area, arrange for them to do some sightseeing. Also, consider hosting displays of relevant products and vendors on one day. For example, if you’re creating a conference for teachers, you could invite technology, flexible seating, and textbook vendors to showcase their latest educational developments.
What are you going to eat during your conference? If you’re working with a hotel to provide lodging, your participants’ rooms may come with breakfast. Otherwise, though, you’re responsible for giving them food. Ask your venue organizers about their catering options, or reach out to local restaurants to see if they offer bulk discounts. Remember, you can include the cost of food in your registration price, but your participants may be angry if you don’t provide high-quality meals.
Figure Out Transportation
How are your participants going to get to your venue? How will you handle transportation between their lodging and the conference’s activities, if these are different locations? Consider chartering a few buses for the weekend, or, if your conference is small, ask local participants to run carpools. Make sure to budget plenty of time for transportation into your schedule, especially when it’s time for your guest speakers.
Once you’ve figured out all these logistics, it’s time to open registration to your participants. Use online programs such as Eventbrite or Google Forms to create a registration form. Ask for participants’ names, contact information, reasons for attending your conference, dietary restrictions, and payment details. Before making your form public, ask a team member to test it out to ensure that everything is working properly.
Spread the Word
When your registration system is ready, start spreading the word about your conference. Send out emails to your mailing lists, post about it on social media, and write a few blog posts centered around your speakers and activities. Host question and answer sessions on Facebook or Instagram Live, and don’t be afraid to have fun with your advertisements. After all, your participants should see your conference as an exciting trip, even if it’s for work.
Be Available for Questions
Check your email regularly in case someone wants to register for your conference but has questions. If you’re receiving an overwhelming number of questions, ask your customer service or human resources team to step in. Create a list of frequently asked questions for your team and stay available for more complicated questions.
Follow these steps to host your first conference like a professional.
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