Part 1 – Organizing Your Conference
Successful management and delivery of an engaging and valuable business conference can be both a gratifying and stressful experience. There are many details to coordinate and inherent challenges to overcome but the experience doesn’t have to drive you crazy! All it takes is a clear understanding of your objective for the event and some strategic planning, well in advance. Here’s a road map that will keep your stress in check while you organize and prepare to make the most of your business conference!
Define Event Parameters
The first step in minimizing stress when planning your conference is to understand the tasks at hand.
- Purpose – What is the reason for your event? Understanding the objective of the convention will focus and direct your planning efforts and guide the choices you make for inclusion in your event agenda.
- Type of Event – What type of venue and duration will best suit the purpose? There are many options to consider including but not limited to a full length seminar or lecture, a series of workshops or breakout sessions, an open forum discussion in an auditorium or an online event. Look at several different options and consider how each could be adapted to the purpose of the event and how much time will be required for effective coverage of the objectives.
- Audience – What are the audience demographics? How many will attend? You may find yourself stressed if you’re inadequately prepared to meet your attendees’ needs. For example, a conference for 15 executives requires a different set of planning activities than a conference for 200 support staffers. A disappointed audience can be a major source of stress! Focus on what needs to be done to help your attendees make the most of the event.
- Budget – Funding may be a stressor if your budget is limited but knowing in advance how much you can spend will be your guideline for smart money management.
Develop Conference Plan
- Brainstorm Ideas – You may be stressed about how to build an interactive agenda. Seek some assistance! Gather a team to generate interesting, engaging ideas for your conference. Write down any and all input, no matter how impractical.
- Choose Viable Ideas – Review all of the concepts and use objective criteria to narrow your choices. Keep in mind the needs of your audience, the objective to be achieved and budget constraints. You’ll feel less stressed when you can envision the event happening in your mind, one agenda item flowing smoothly into the next.
- Develop Strategic Timelines and Milestones – Another way to keep stress at bay is to work from a well-designed strategic plan, complete with a timeline of checkpoints. Your stress level will be lower if you’re following a focused and organized path.
- Contingency Plan – Always develop a Plan B. If the keynote speaker you scheduled is unavoidably detained, have a backup plan ready to keep rolling without a stressful hitch.
Planning a conference can be challenging but you can minimize stress by understanding the purpose of the event and the needs of your audience, and building in a solid Plan B to deal with unexpected changes. An organized approach can make for a smoothly executed conference and valuable learning experience for your attendees. In Part 2, of this article, you’ll learn how execute your conference plan and deliver a great event.
Author: Mike Kamo is the VP of marketing for Strideapp. Stride is a Cloud-based CRM and mobile app that helps small to medium sized agencies manage and track leads, as well as close more deals. They can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Published: April 21, 2014