I just got back from the Oracle conference in San Francisco, California and I was amazed at the size of it. I had previously only been to local conferences in the Toronto area and also down to Chicago, so it was a big change in venue. I can’t imagine all the people that it takes to host a big conference. So I thought I would jot some ideas down about what I would be concerned about if I was to put together a small conference.
Organizing conferences can be a big commitment. If you are in-charge of setting up a conference, you need to consider a lot of ideas. The success of your conference relies on proper planning and preparation. To make things more doable you need to focus on the details and break down the major tasks into their components. The greater the challenge is, the greater your rewards and sense of accomplishment once you’ve carried it out successfully.
The venue is the first thing that you have to arrange for. If the venue is already provided by your client, company or business, you will have more time to focus on preparing the venue. In choosing a venue, you need to consider the size and dimensions of the room, the price for the rent, its accessibility, and its ambiance. Peripherals like the restrooms, the power sources, etc. should be checked out.
After you have chosen your venue, the physical set-up should be planned next. The type of conference, the number of people to attend, the degree of formality, and the venue itself should be considered. To help you work with your venues size and dimensions by acquiring a printed lay-out of the place. A typical conference would have the audience sitting down and face front. All the necessary equipment like the screen for slideshow presentations should be situated at the front area of the venue. The back area would usually have the supporting equipment like the computer, laptop and the projector. The speakers and amplifiers should be distributed around the area to make sure that everybody in the audience will be able to hear everything well.
During conferences, a general rule is to serve finger food and simple beverages. Serve food that won’t be too heavy on the stomach – after all, this is a professional function not a party or a get-together.
Invitations should be sent with a realistic time frame. An acceptable time would be three to four weeks before the event. Make sure that you confirm the attendance, so that you could establish a final list of attendees around two weeks before the event.
It is important that you anticipate all the possible things that could go wrong during the conference, and then plan for them. If it’s an outdoor conference, in case it rains you should have tents in handy. Hire a generator if there is a risk of losing power. In case the computer doesn’t work, get an extra laptop.
Sometimes you should hire professionals and outsource all the planning. Check out listings of event organizers in your area, or ask for recommendations from your colleagues who have previously taken advantage of such professional services.