Organising a conference is no easy task and you’d be brave to give it a go. That said, there are lots of benefits to hosting a conference when it comes to marketing your business or cause. Here are a few tips to ensure that your conference is a success.
Deciding your purpose
Most people host a conference to inform people of an event or cause. It could be a launch party for a product or it could be a way of raising awareness for a charity cause. Conferences can be good PR opportunities for attracting media attention. However, others may be a chance to network. Your conference may even have an academic purpose behind it and could include getting lots of academic professionals together to debate a topic. Whatever the purpose may be, make sure that your audience is aware of this and don’t let incentives get in the way (for example, advertising a product launch party as a live music event with free drinks).
Marketing your conference
Decide who you want at your conference. If it’s open to the public, you could consider creating posters and promoting it on Facebook and Twitter. If it’s a private event on an invite basis only, you may have to email and even call up attendees individually.
There are lots of chances to market your cause at the event. This could include putting up a live Twitter wall, inviting local media along and putting up branding around the place such as banners and balloons. Give yourself time to mingle and network with attendees before or after the event.
Finding the right location
The location of your conference needs to be appropriately sized and set up for you guests. University lecture halls and community centres are a common choice. If people are travelling from afar, you could even host in a hotel so that attendees can book somewhere to stay and get to the conference easily afterwards. Check that there are parking facilities nearby for those that are driving. Having a venue with a lobby for mingling beforehand could be worthwhile too.
Delivering a talk
You’ll most likely be delivering a talk at your conference. Make sure that venue is will set up so that everyone can hear you. This may include getting a microphone, projector and possibly ict furniture such as a lectern if not supplied. You may be inviting special guests to talk and debate with or you may be doing all the talking. Either way, don’t risk improvising it and prepare some kind of structure. It’s not unusual for people to hire a public speaking coach before these events as they can be nerve-wracking even for the most extroverted people.
Looking after your guests
Try to entertain your attendees so that it’s a more memorable event. Even the most corporate and serious conferences can benefit from having some food and drink on offer in the lobby. This need only be snacks and hot drinks, although there’s nothing stopping you from serving people champagne and aperitifs to make an even greater impression.