Whether you’re an event planning professional or an absolute novice, conference planning can be a daunting task to approach. If you’re trying to organise your conference for 2021, it could potentially be even more difficult to really throw yourself into the whole planning process. That’s why we’ve compiled our very best conference planning tips and tricks to help you host the conference you’ve always wanted, and to ensure everything goes completely to plan.
Essential Conference Planning Checklist Ideas
1) Decide on a Date and Time
Getting this decision right well in advance can save you an awful lot of heartache later on down the line. Deciding on a date for your conference first and foremost can significantly reduce the price you pay for your venue, as booking far into the future is guaranteed to save you a lot of hassle closer to the date.
As well as this, making sure that you choose the right venue to host your conference can be paramount not only to your turnout but the impact that your event has on its guests and the overall event success.
So, choosing a space such as Kettering Conference Centre to host your event, with 12 conference rooms and 14 potential event spaces, is the perfect venue to entrust with your event. Kettering Conference Centre also has a fantastic internet connection and incredibly modern facilities, meaning that virtual event management has never been an easier task. Located in the heart of the UK, Kettering has all of the facilities you could possibly need to host the very best conference you can.
2) Assemble Your Task Force
Rest assured that you won’t be taking on this massive feat all by yourself; when it comes to conference planning and conference event management, getting together your own task force to help you get the job done is essential to everything running smoothly. Whether this group is made up of close personal friends who you’re confident will complete the task or fellow competent employees, it’s always better than going it alone.
It’s key to have people you trust helping you every step of the way, and being able to communicate clearly with them is a definite must. We recommend starting a group chat either on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, just to make sure that everyone is up to date with the ever-changing plans and pitfalls that come with conference planning. That way, you ensure that everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and where their individual responsibilities lie.
3) Understand Your Guests
Understanding your guests is an essential conference planning tip to creating an atmosphere that’s worth having. If you don’t understand what it is your guests are looking for, it’s going to be near impossible for you to really cater to their needs. Getting into your guest’s heads, analysing what it is that they’re looking for, and giving them exactly what is what’s going to set you apart from the rest of your competition.
Lots of platforms online already have their own various forms of audience insights and customer analysis, and these are fantastic ways of starting to understand where your potential audience is coming from. However, there are plenty of other new and exciting online resources such as Brandwatch Audiences and People Pattern that are beginning to really expand and offer a lot of extra support to those who need it.
4) Decide on a Theme
This one isn’t completely essential, but a lot of conferences with a theme in place are deemed incredibly successful. Having a theme isn’t entirely essential to the conference planning process, but having one in place can give your event a little more direction, as well as giving your attendees more of an idea as to what they’re actually coming to see. Themes can often be seen as ‘cheesy’ or bordering on the unprofessional.
However, depending on the atmosphere you want to create, a theme can be just the thing you need to bring more focus to your conference, or even lighten the mood. Choosing a catchy yet important slogan for your conference, basing it all around one specific area of your role, or simply choosing your theme to centre around the venue could really help you out.
Hiring an events company could even help you plan and execute your theme. In one of our previous posts, we discuss the importance of outdoor events, and how throwing one could do wonders for your cause.
5) Be Wary of Budgets
It can be very easy to overspend or push the boundaries when it comes to your budget, especially when it’s your first conference and you’re eager to make a fantastic first impression. However, setting a budget and sticking to it is essential to guarantee your live event goes off without a hitch. Whether it’s a personal budget or a company budget, it’s always best to avoid pushing the limits.
If you’re like the majority of people in the UK and you struggle when it comes to setting yourself monetary boundaries, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of online apps and resources that can save you from stretching yourself too thin. The Emma app is perfect for budgeting and keeping track of your comings and goings. From keeping track of all of your accounts, setting monthly budgets, transactions and subscriptions, and offering detailed spending analytics, Emma is great for managing your money.
6) Finalise Your Speakers
What’s a conference without a vast array of industry professionals sharing their stories and infinite wisdom? Nothing! However, to get the speakers you really want for your conference, you’re going to have to reach out to them months (if not years) in advance.
These are busy people with incredibly busy schedules, so making sure you’ve got them fully booked and finalised in advance means you can avoid any disappointment closer to the day. However, if you’re planning a virtual event or hosting a virtual event, you’ll be able to use online event technology and get a pre-recorded message from your guest speaker if they can’t be there in person.
Depending on the size and range of your target audience, planning a successful conference with relevant guests can be a daunting idea. However, hosting an in-person event and hosting a virtual conference are two very different things, but by taking advantage of virtual event platforms and social media platforms, hosting these events can be a lot more simple.
JLA is a fantastic company if you’re looking for exciting keynote speakers, and they’re the “biggest specialist agency” in the UK for conference presenters and motivational speakers alike. From television personalities, the sports stars and politicians, JLA offers a huge selection of personalities to choose from. With each speaker varying in price and popularity, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect speaker for your event.
7) Prepare Your Thank You Notes
If you’re throwing a large event, and you’ve well and truly flexed your physical conference and virtual event planner muscles, you’re going to have an awful lot of people to thank at the end of it. From caterers to keynote speakers, to members of your team who helped bring everything together: there are a lot of people who you’re going to be very grateful to have had around.
Therefore, preparing your thank you notes and gifts in advance is going to save you a lot of work later on down the line. At Vistaprint, you can buy your cards, personalise them and send them off to whoever you’d like with ease. This makes the whole ordeal of having to spend potentially hundreds on thank you notes a whole lot less scary.
8) Relax…and Prepare For Next Time
The whole conference is over, the last guest has left, and the lights are starting to be turned off one by one. Your keynote speakers have packed up their things and left, and you finally have time to relax. However, this means you also have lots of time to regain your bearings and take stock of what you’ve learnt from the experience.
At Kettering Conference Centre, we’re ready to host almost any event. From virtual events and conferences to team meetings and training days, Kettering is in a central location that is known for bringing people closer together. So, at the end of your conference, it’s always valuable to evaluate how your event went down, and what other events you’d want to do in the future.
Conference Planning Tips and Tricks Conclusion
Whether you’re just getting started planning your conference, or you’re simply wanting a few extra tips and tricks ready for the next conference you throw, we hope you’re now inspired to take everything head-on and plan the very best event you can! Just to recap, here are our top 8 tips and tricks to help you get to grips with conference planning:
- Decide on a Date and Time
- Assemble Your Task Force
- Understand Your Goals
- Decide on a Theme
- Be Wary of Budgets
- Finalise Your Speakers
- Prepare Your Thank You Notes
- Relax and Prepare For Next Time
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