Planning a conference takes time, patience and plenty of organisation. But there’s a few mistakes that seem to occur time and time again because people overlook the small details. Here’s the top 5 conference planning mistakes you should avoid.
1. Choosing the wrong venue
The venue is the star of the conference you just don’t realise it yet. And it’s not just making sure the venue itself is fantastic but also checking the surrounding area for good public transport, hotels and bars and restaurants for post-conference networking. Here’s how to avoid the main venue mistakes:
- Location is everything: Find out about the parking available to you from the venue. If it won’t be enough find out about public transport options or nearby hotels so your guests can walk across.
- Book more rooms than you think you need: conferences still count as working days so it’s likely some people will be taking calls or holding meetings. Cater to them with a designated meeting room.
- Take a tour before you book: check out the distance between rooms you’ll be using, or how far from the main conference area to the food setup. It’s not going to look too good if you didn’t know it would take 5 minutes to wander across from room A to room B because the map wasn’t to scale.
2. Planning for short food breaks
Speaking of food there’s a common trap people fall for that involves a bit of wishful thinking. Your day is jam-packed full of top-notch speakers and interesting seminars so you find a quick 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon for everyone to eat. More often than not the dining takes longer than you’ve allotted and the whole conference runs late. Especially at larger conferences be realistic; it will take 200 people more than 15 minutes to congregate in the dining area and then find their way back to the next session. Consider the comfort of your guests while eating as well.
3. Not asking about the wifi
It’s an internet savvy world so the assumption is usually that wifi is everywhere. What is they say about assuming though? Wifi is a key factor in a successful conference. Don’t assume it will automatically be available (or reliable). Ask the venue what their setup is like and if it’s not going to suit your needs either A) find a backup internet access or B) check out other venues.
4. Run a final AV check
The last thing anyone wants is to be held up by technical difficulties. Technology is a godsend most of the time and serious pain to fix when it falls apart. Run one last AV check the morning of the conference to ensure all your presentations are running effectively and any media (e.g. sound, video) presenters wish to use works.
5. Double check the program
Avoid embarrassment by proofreading your program one last time before its mass-printed. Look out for specifically:
- Correct spelling of all presenter names (surprisingly it’s the common names that are misspelled)
- Any technical terminology in the session titles
- Correct room names, times and directions
It’s also worth including basic information somewhere in the program to avoid too many questions. Details like how to get into the venue, locations of dining and meeting rooms and conference start and end times are all easy to list and will save you telling a hundred people individually.
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