When it comes to conference planning the road to success has everything to do with planning, planning, planning. The trick lies in that age old quote from Benjamin Franklin “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. I’m sure I’m not saying anything you haven’t read before. We all know, a successful conference doesn’t just happen by accident. Have you heard? I’m a details person. I learned very early in my career that success is in the details. Some say it’s the devil that is in the details. But I beg to differ. I was fortunate to learn and fast that it is actually success that is found in those details. And the key to a conference planning success story starts with taking charge and making plans.
There are lots of things that help a conference planner triumph. While at the same time there’s just as many things that will cause a planner to fail. When it comes to planning a conference there is no such thing as one size fits all. Different kinds and sizes of conferences need a whole host of different ingredients.
3 Conference Planning Questions I am ALWAYS Asked
I love industry speak. I admit a tad unusual. And whether I’m networking with newer planners or participating in a Q&A at local colleges. There are a handful of how to plan a conference questions that I am always (always) asked.
Starting with. When do I start planning my conference? And the answer is always as soon as possible. It really does depend on what is already on your plate. If it’s a large scale conference and the only one. Start as soon as the books are closed on the previous one. Depending on the conference size as well as how many events and conferences I’m responsible for; I try and start at least four months out. Again it all depends on what is involved.
Followed by. Do you use a timeline or a conference planning checklist when planning? Yes, yes, yes. I use whatever tools possible to help. And the tools definitely do include a timeline and checklist. By creating a conference timeline you are putting together a blueprint for what’s to come. And along with the checklist you are able to schedule, track and ensure jobs are assigned and completed. It’s also a great way to keep the team informed. And ensure nothing is missed or forgotten.
Finally. Can you really negotiate with suppliers? Again it’s a definite absolutely. To date I have not come across a supplier who isn’t open to helping. Sometimes they will say no but in the end everything is in fact negotiable. Before you get started, it is important to be prepared. Know the information, know what you need to negotiate and what that magic number is. Competition is fierce and suppliers are always open to getting more work.
Before Getting Started, Ask Yourself these 5 Questions
When it comes to conference planning, the options are never-ending. Therefore making all the available choices a non-stop process. However each and every decision is equally important. And because no conference is ever the same and are unique in their own way. It all begins with asking yourself some key questions. Before getting started on anything. Ask yourself these five questions.
1. What is the conference budget?
2. What are the conference goals?
3. Who is the audience?
4. What are the conference dates?
5. Where is the conference location?