Conference Planning Do’s and Don’ts: How to avoid common venue pitfalls
The world of conferences has transformed over the years, evolving from stuffy affairs where the audience was dictated to, into engaging and immersive events that bring people together to share their knowledge and experiences. To find out more about where conferences are headed you can read our previous blog Conference Planning Trends: Whats Hot in the Events Industry.
Planning a conference is no easy task and requires a thoughtful approach focused on the attendees, combining innovation and tried and tested principles.
In this blog, we will explore the do’s and don’ts for planning a conference that will leave a lasting impression and fulfil both the events objectives and overarching corporate objectives
The Do’s for planning your next conference
Who doesn’t want their next conference to be a success? We’re going to highlight some of the key “do’s” for your next conference. These points will not only help you select the perfect venue but will also make sure your next event is a triumph.
1. Setup Time: Allow ample time for the setup of your conference. The importance of this cannot be overstated. The event should run smoothly, and using this time can iron out any logistical issues, prevent technical glitches such as lighting and sound, and give you the opportunity to check the flow and overall setup of the room. It is also a great opportunity to have a dress rehearsal and a show run through to ensure everyone is on the same page and knows the timing of the event. Being prepared early is also great to spot any flaws in the aesthetics, so if you’re a stickler for detail then this allows you the time you need to ensure everything is perfect.
2. Legal and Compliance information: This is a fundamental necessity. The events industry has many regulations and laws, from intellectual property rights and permits to health and safety guidelines. By proactively addressing legal and compliance issues, you avoid the risk of potential legal liabilities, fines, or even event shutdowns. Adhering to these also demonstrates your professionalism as well as safeguarding the success and reputation of your conference. Examples include checking your venues music licence, if there is a big conference build ensuring you meet the venues fire and health and safety regulations. Always ask the question about compliance, you do not want to be caught out on the event.
3. Emergency Planning: The safety and well-being of attendees, staff, and participants should be at the forefront when planning a conference. Accidents and emergencies can happen at any time, and preparation for this must be in place. Clear communication strategies can keep everyone informed on how to handle these types of situations. As well as complying with safety regulations and having the presence of trained staff on site. A well-thought-out emergency plan is not just a precaution. It’s a huge responsibility for any conference planner. Emergencies don’t always come in the form of the ‘typical’ disaster, think about wet weather options for that summer BBQ, what happens if the trains go on strike. Cover all eventualities to ensure a roaring success.
4. Accessibility: Everyone should be able to attend a conference or event. When deciding on a venue for your conference, one of the top things you should be thinking about is whether this venue is accessible for participants who may have physical difficulties, visual / hearing impairments or are neuro diverse. Ensuring your conference has wheelchair facilities, visual aids, assistive listening devices, and sign language experts provides the same opportunities for everyone attending as well as broadening your audience.
5. Stay on time: Timely planning minimises the risk of last-minute hiccups, offering event organisers the flexibility to address unforeseen challenges without causing disruptions throughout the whole event. Meeting deadlines ensures that all elements align harmoniously, creating a well-orchestrated experience for attendees.
6. Audience Engagement: When planning a conference, prioritising audience engagement is paramount as it transforms passive attendees into active participants. Interactive sessions, Q&A opportunities, and networking events not only capture attention but also encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing. An engaged audience is more likely to absorb information, ask questions, and leave with a sense of connection to the content.
The Don’ts for planning your next conference
Whilst we have covered the Do’s of conference planning, it’s crucial to delve into the ‘Don’ts’—those pitfalls that can potentially derail even the most meticulously organised event.
1. Don’t over capacitate: Adequate space is essential. You want to ensure the venue you have chosen can efficiently execute presentations, workshops, and other scheduled activities with enough space to not interfere with your attendee’s whole experience. Overcrowding your conference will leave you with less room to play with, and your attendees may also not appreciate being squished in one place. By prioritizing quality over quantity, you can ensure your attendees have the space and comfort to fully immerse themselves in all your event has to offer.
2. Last-minute plan: Last-minute planning can be a recipe for disaster. Planning an event requires careful coordination, attention to detail, and strategic decision-making. These things cannot be rushed. By avoiding last-minute planning, event organisers can ensure a smoother execution, enhanced attendee satisfaction, and a more successful overall conference experience.
3. Don’t overload the schedule: Cramming too much into your conference can make your attendees feel overwhelmed with information. Leading to fatigue and diminished engagement. It’s crucial to strike a balance, allowing for sufficient breaks, networking opportunities, and reflection periods, allowing attendees to fully express their opinions and meet others within the industry. Over-scheduling also limits the flexibility to address any unwelcomed issues, disrupts the flow of the event, and can result in rushed or poorly executed sessions.
4. Don’t forget about post-comms: Securing post-conference communication is vital for any event planning process. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to express gratitude to attendees, sponsors, and speakers. You can also gather valuable feedback from survey or evaluations to see what worked well and what didn’t. Knowing these insights can help when organising your next conference.
Conference planning is both an art and a science. It requires a delicate balance between creativity, organisation, and an understanding of your audience. By following the do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can ensure a successful conference that engages attendees, achieves your goals, and leaves a lasting positive impression.