The Basic Guidelines on How to Organise a Conference
BY BRANTLEY GRAHAM
Guidelines on how to organise a conference will always differ according to the type of event. Given below are the basic guidelines that are required to organise a conference:
Identify your target audience; define your goals and objectives for the conference; decide on a theme for the event; decide on the type of approach that you would want for the conference; conduct meetings with the venue staff to sort out the strategic planning requirements.
A well-planned budget is a vital tool for the success of a conference. Consider all areas of the conference and work out a cost for the event. Once your budget is finalised, it is vital that you stick to it until the end of the event. Include the costs for the venue hires, speaker’s fees etc. Also include other costs such as, hotel accommodation and transport charges. Remember to always have at least a 10% to cover unforeseen expenses.
Dates and Venues
Decide dates, the location and the duration of the conference. When selecting the venue consider public transportation facilities including access from airports. A site visit is very important to check out the layout of the meeting room, eating areas, recreation areas and access to the venue. Discuss menus and all other catering requirements with the venue staff or the relevant catering company.
Draw up your agendas and program to make it comfortable, especially to suit the danger areas – periods immediately after tea and lunch.
Promotion and Sales Drive
If the conference is for external delegates, the event has to be promoted through news releases, advertisements, print media and electronic media. Publicity literature and proposed programs can also be sent to potential participants. Select speakers of high standards so that their names could be mentioned in the marketing literature in order to have a successful sales drive for the conference. If the participants are internal delegates – they need to be kept informed of dates etc. so that they could plan official and personal work accordingly.
A unit needs to be set-up to monitor correspondence of delegates, track replies and handle bookings, if required.
All conference material should be according to the theme. This layout could be used for all print-outs, literature, communications, name tags, registration cards, note paper, brochures, programme tickets etc.
Layout & Seating
Decide on the style that the conference room can be laid out. There are a variety of styles which you can choose from according to the shape of the room. Try to consider a shape that will encourage more interaction and eye contact with the speakers and all delegates.
Provide plenty of aisles for easy entrance and exit.
Decide on all the required equipment – public addressee system, overhead projectors, audio visual equipment etc.
The public addressee system is one of the most common, yet important pieces of equipment that is required at a conference. It can also create the most problems, thus it is vital that there is technician on-site to handle any unexpected situations. It will be far better to have another set-up as stand-by for an emergency.
These kits which contain all programs, talk summaries, notepads, handouts and promotional items as ‘giveaways’ should be prepared in advance and be ready to be handed out at the inauguration of the conference.
Meal choices should be requested from the delegates in advance and handed over to the catering company, along with the number of meals, the number of days and relevant menus. Check out for special dietary meals as well.
Floral decor is equally vital to give some glamour for the event. Rooms such as the meeting room, lobby or any other room which is frequently used can have some floral decor.
An essential requirement is to ensure that all aspects of the conference are covered from start to finish. A person responsible for the organising of the event needs to be present through the entire conference in order to make sure that the event runs smoothly. This is vital and is an area that will strongly help to end the organisation of a conference successfully.
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