The Basic Steps to Put Together a Conference

Putting together a conference is a daunting task, but it also is an opportunity to show so many relevant qualities in anyone’s career ladder. You are able to show your leadership, project management, public relations, and networking skills all at the same time. A successful conference does great things for all involved – you get a pat on the back, your team gains great experience, your company gets good rep, and all its attendees get to learn new things and meet new people.

My suggestion is that next time it comes around; you should jump at the opportunity to spearhead it. Okay now, stop looking at me like I’m crazy. Trust me once you have the basics down, execution can be much easier. Here are some fundamental things to remember.

WHAT. The most basic thing that you need to be very clear on is WHAT the conference is about. Knowing the agenda of your conference gives you the direction to know everything else that follows. This includes creating the theme, objective, itinerary, speakers, and attendees.

WHEN. Once you have the fundamental information down, lock down a date and duration. As a rule of thumb, the shorter a conference is, the better your presentations and activities should be as there is no time to waste – but this also means a more meticulous time preparing for it. Before setting the date take seasonal and availability considerations – Is it going to rain, is it conference season, will it overlap with a holiday? Understand how these circumstances can affect your event. Most of all, give yourself time to prepare for it thoroughly. Draw a timeline based on the size and demands of your conference.

WHO. Apart from your speakers and attendees, it is important to have a great team to back you up. Who will be working with you? What will be their roles? Putting together an efficient and compatible conference committee will save you so many problems later on. Delegate roles and take not of what each and every one of them should be doing at a given time. Follow up, follow up, follow up! Make sure you are hands on at all times and that everyone has a sense of responsibility over their tasks. This also means rewarding accomplishments and incentivizing goals.  It might also be a good idea to bring in a professional speaker, as this can add a great deal to your conference. The speaker is what attendees will remember the most, so if you do not have someone who can deliver the speech is an entertaining, yet informative manner, you will not end up with the reaction that you desired. You can hire professional speakers who specialize in all different categories to attend your event, which should leave you with a knowledgeable individual to capture the attention of everyone who attends your conference.

HOW. If you are not one to confidently say that you are an event wiz, don’t worry. There are professional event management companies who can execute your dream event for you. However, you will still need to know what you expect from them and what you want from your end. Where is the venue? How much is your budget? What is your theme? Come prepared with answers to this so they can show you what they can do and offer. It is also important to communicate with them regularly to make sure that nothing is missed. If you choose not to use a service, a checklist will save your life. Also, compile all your suppliers and make sure you have them all saved on your phone and sorted in a useful excel file. Make sure you have extra manpower to execute smoothly.

Don’t let such an important project intimidate you. Remember, the key is organization and being in control. If you are able to pull this off with grace and finesse, smaller projects will be a piece of pie.

Any tips for first time conference organizers? Comment below or tweet us @mscareergirl!

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.