5 Things to Consider when Organizing a Conference

October 17, 2018
Organizing a business conference can be quite a task, and here at World Trade Center Manila, we have witnessed countless successful conferences and business meetings that had an immensely challenging preparation process before they came out beautifully in the end. It is customary to prepare at least six months before the conference to be really on point with the execution. Nevertheless, event organizers still tend to get overwhelmed with the process that they sometimes neglect key factors when organizing events like these. Usually, novice event organizers have a million questions in mind: "Where do I start? How do I find the right speakers to invite? How can I maximize the venue to benefit my conference?" Here at World Trade Center, we’re here to help. Here are 5 things to consider when organizing a conference:
  1. Purpose Organizing a conference is far more expensive and laborious than you likely realize. You can avoid bankruptcy by knowing the demand. You can start with low-risk efforts like hosting discussions in social media or gatherings  that will help you get a sense of the demand, and will give you opportunities to discuss your concept with the people you hope will register. You can even go bigger and build your audience before you create the conference. It seems given, but it’s important to have a critical approach to this issue. Understanding the purpose of your conference makes it easier for you to organize it. It allows you to formulate your goals as specifically as possible. Do you want to convey knowledge to participants? Do you intend to express gratitude to partners? Do you want to raise funds for a project or offer guests aesthetic pleasure? Once you've got this figured out, the rest can be smoothly executed.
  2. Format Your format helps in achieving the goal of the event. The format of the event will depend on the following: concept, timing and duration, role distribution within the team, layout, and its catering and sound. A novice mistake is to get stuck in traditional formats. There are many formats to conferences. They can be networking events, trade show events, educational events, or academic events. This mistake comes up a lot from first-time conference managers because they don’t realize that each of these types demands a different kind of format and structure. Hybrid formats don’t work well, as each type inherently competes against each other. Everything from break timing to program curation is affected by the type of event.
  3. Budget Whether your conference is funded by sponsors or not, it is your responsibility to consider the budget. After all, you'll have to put one together. You need to ponder on the task list and reflect them in your budget. Additionally, it is important to draft your budget considering unforeseeable situations. It is worth thinking about a contingency just in case. For example, there is an incident when a speaker requires a certain type of equipment at the conference. The organizer is expected to immediately come up with this requirement at a moment's notice. It is better to think about such things in advance and be prepared for them financially.
  4. Responsibilities Delegation of responsibilities is always important. It is vital to distribute the tasks among the team members not only at the preparation stage, but also during the conference. Another way to optimize this is to allocate responsibilities by area. For instance, someone should be responsible for the registration area, someone else for greeting the speakers, a different person for the equipment, for catering, communication with the press, etc. Each person needs to have his or her area to operate, which he or she should be responsible for throughout the entire duration of the conference. You have to be careful not to have the whole conference run on the shoulders of too few people. A way to solve this is to structure a leadership team into subject groups where one to two people can take responsibility and lead a team for each. That means that speaker curation, speaker hospitality, volunteers, content, PR/social, production, ticketing, sponsorships, design, budget, legal, and more all need the full attention of a dedicated person. These teams should meet as necessary and the entire group should share progress together consistently.
  5. Feedback Staging a conference is a risky business. Hence, your creditors will most likely make it  clear what they expect of you. Similarly, you should be clear with attendees about their expectations and whether they are met. This information can be used in future conferences you may organize. Event organizers are usually going to be exhausted and satisfied after the conference, but it will be difficult for them to give an objective assessment of how it all went. That is why it is imperative to ask participants to complete a printed evaluation form at the end of the conference or an online form when they get home. Asking them to assess various aspects of the event like the logistics, speakers, locations, and the work of the organizers will help the organizers to avoid mistakes in the future and improve the quality of their events. If possible, getting feedback through social networks or recorded video reviews at the end of an event are most optimal. This will come in handy if your event is held again.

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