Organising a conference can be an intimidating amount of work, especially if you’re new to the game and have been assigned this responsibility over and above your day job. That’s stress! A great way to counter the stress is to understand exactly why you’re doing it. What is the unyielding reason that will drive you to make many of the decisions that result in a memorable, successful event? The answer will lead you to the foundation upon which to build – the theme.

Unifying power of a theme

Having a unifying theme helps to combine your ideas, choose the right venue, get appropriate speakers and market to the right people. It will also help you to come up with a name.

No time like NOW!

Start planning your conference as soon as possible. Give yourself time to rearrange your budget and any other snags that may suddenly and unexpectedly appear. And they will. Try to finalise all major contracts a full month before the event date. Early preparation will also give you time to implement a Plan B.

Brainstorm the budget

The budget always knows best. It will set the considerations for your goals. With the information you’ve brainstormed, write out a solid plan. Will there be guest speakers? Entertainment? Catering? Etc. Set aside budgeted amounts for every consideration.

Choose guest speakers early

Excellent speakers are snapped up far in advance. Therefore, if you want your top choices, secure them as soon as possible. Remember, a good keynote speaker can make or break your event. Make sure you know their expected remuneration, requirements for set-up and availability.

Get a technical team

Of the most common hiccups during an event are minor technical issues – microphones not working, laptops not connected to the projector, etc. Having technical expertise on hand to fix issues as they occur is invaluable.

Check the printing

Find your printers early, and print more than you think you’ll need – badges, lanyards, banners, etc. Making sure that everyone has the required materials is worth overspending slightly. Double-check everything.

The final countdown

The day before lift-off, do a detailed walk-through of your event from start to finish. Be as critical as possible, anticipating or solving issues before they escalate. Remember, most things can be rectified with a lot less hassle than you might think. More often than not, guests will not notice, care or remember that something’s not gone precisely according to plan. Good luck!

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