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What to avoid when planning your next conference

Planning

Weeks of planning, discussing, organising, marketing and staff hours go into ensuring a conference runs smoothly. And nine times of out ten it will. But when it comes to dissecting the event afterwards there will always be some area where you fell short.

Thankfully, this usually becomes a focus next time round so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated. But it’s worth going over the details with a fine tooth comb weeks in advance of the actual date if possible – and even setting up contingency plans – so that mistakes aren’t made in the first place.

In this article we’ll take a look at the common ‘disasters’ conferences organisers can fall prey to:

Typos

Either in the invitation or on the place names at tables. Not bothering to check the spelling of someone’s name infers a lack of attention to detail. It’s basic and it’s going to put that person in a negative frame of mind towards your organisation. There’s no excuse for poor spelling on audio visuals either

Notice

It’s a hectic world and everyone’s diary seems to be filling up quicker than ever these days. Not giving attendees enough advance warning of a conference (at least three months minimum) is simply shooting yourself in the foot

Cost

Set yourself a budget and try to stick to it. That means shopping around for deals with catering, rooms, audio visual teams and stationery. It also means brushing up on your negotiating skills and if you don’t have any, either getting them now or hiring someone to do it for you

Schedules

Your guests will be expecting their lunch at 1pm like it says on the programme. Not only will they be getting irritable and tired due to low blood sugar if it doesn’t appear, but running over makes it looks like the event isn’t being controlled properly. Again, it doesn’t make your organisation look good and prompts the question ‘what else can’t you control?’

Double-check

It’s too easy to assume that everyone will do as they said they would at the outset. Suppliers can make mistakes or misunderstand an order. It doesn’t take long to ring round and make sure quantities and qualities are going to be what you’ve asked for

Under-anticipating

Not supplying enough of your company brochures, flyers or order forms means losing out on potential customers. So does running out of promotional material such as notepads, pens and key rings with your company’s contact details printed on them while bringing too few conference evaluation forms means losing out on valuable feedback for next time round

Speakers

Sometimes when you’ve a glaring hole in your conference programme it’s tempting to accept a speaker you’ve never met before but who comes recommended by a respected colleague. Always check their references and past papers and meet with them beforehand

These are just some tips in a whole checklist of activities you should be putting into action in order to make your conference one to remember (for all the right reasons). Mistakes made by not anticipating the above are by no means universal but they are pretty major and can go some way to making or breaking the success of a conference. And we’re sure you’d prefer it was the former!

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