Top Tips For A Successful Conference Or Meeting

Whether it’s a staff retreat, an all-day event or a multi-day annual meeting, planning a conference is no easy effort. It takes research, sourcing, booking, scheduling, and most importantly, organizing.

If you're about to plan a conference, here are a few tips to help get you from the ideas stage to hosting a successful event.

What you need to know:

  • objectives
  • audience
  • content
  • title
  • budget
  • technology and sound
  • speakers
  • agenda
  • timing
  • incentives
  • follow-up

Top Tips For A Successful Conference Or Meeting

The objective of the event

Why do you want to host an event? The first step in planning an event is to identify the purpose of the event. Are you trying to:

  • increase sales
  • train employees on new skills
  • inspire and motivate people and reward them for a successful year


Who is your target audience? Identifying your target audience will allow you to :

  • tailor content for a specific audience receptive to the objective
    market your event
  • target precise attendees using tools such as social media


What will your audience take away with them? Content is critical. The most talked about aspect of an event is likely to be its inspirational and motivational message. Your audience should be interested in the content and believe that they will benefit from it.


What will you call your event? The best titles/labels capture the theme/content and reason for the event. Make sure you can include the title in hash tags, twitter feeds and other social media promotions.


What will it cost? Adequate planning will ensure you don’t go over budget. It's also important to understand your budget when looking for sponsors to help share the expense of the event.

Include the following costs in your budget:

  • registration fees and data collection
  • the venue, including meals and related expenses
  • travel costs
  • speakers’ fees
  • sound and AV cost
  • advertising and marketing
  • web hosting and related technology cost
  • gifts for participants and speakers


Technology and sound

How will your event look and sound? Basic but all-important! The quality of sound and visual presentations can make or break an event. Poor sound quality is one of the number one reasons that participants don’t benefit from an event. Good quality AV engages participants’ interest and enables them to hear and see clearly. Hire a reputable AV company and, if using a hotel sound system, make sure the AV quality and functionality is adequate for the size of your audience.


Who will you choose? Choose a keynote speaker whose presentation supports the theme of your event. Check the speaker’s references, previous audience experience, and testimonials.


How smoothly will your event unfold? The agenda for a successful event has a well thought out logical flow with:

  • content-rich material scheduled during morning sessions (when everyone is fresh)
  • lighter material placed between content-rich sessions (to pace
    the flow of information)
  • an inspirational session set for the end of the day (participants leave feeling positive)
  • extra time built in (If a speaker goes over his/her time limit, it is not realistic to expect another speaker to shorten their session to get the event back


When will you have your event? To secure the audience you want, timing is everything. Here are some tips:

  • Find out what other events are occurring the same day as your planned event. Concurrent events in your geographical location, other events attractive to your audience and work-related commitments/activities will impact the turnout for your event.
  • One-day events held on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will have higher turnouts.
  • Events just before or after a holiday will have lower turnouts.


How do you encourage people to register for your event early?

  • Use your web pages/mailouts to market and advertise frequently leading up to your event.
  • The first incentive should be for early registration—such as a giveaway or early bird pricing.
  • The second incentive can be built around supply and demand. That can include a limited number of VIP seats or special products given to a limited number of people. (If you are giving products or gifts away at the event, remember the limitations people face when transporting them home.)


How can I find out what participants thought of the event? Follow-up is often overlooked but it is an important step. Active follow-up will ensure a good turnout for future events. Organizers often wonder why the participation at a current event is less than the year before. They often blame it on the marketing for the current event, the speaker lineup or the agenda; however, it may be something about the last event that discouraged participants from coming back. Some great ways to follow up include:

  • online evaluations
  • sending participants content from the event
  • a follow-up newsletter outlining the highlights of the event
  • social media pages created specifically for the event

About the author of this article (Eddie LeMoine)

Eddie LeMoine is a Canadian-born international author, keynote speaker, seminar leader and corporate trainer. He specializes in leadership, employee engagement, stress management, safety and the psychology of success. Through his inspiring stories, infectious sense of humor and genuine care for people, Eddie easily connects with—and motivates—audiences all over the world. Eddie’s unprecedented success is due to his powerful ability to close the gap between business results and personal development. He inspires greatness in corporations by inspiring greatness in individuals.

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