Organizing a conference takes a lot of forethought and planning to result in success, and there are plenty of mistakes to be made. From the time you allow for planning to whether you choose to follow up with attendees, pitfalls and errors can occur.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are seven of the biggest mistakes to avoid when organizing a conference.
1. Booking the Wrong Venue
The layout and size of your event venue matters, and not all venues are equal. For example, there are plenty of NYC event venues where different NYC conferences take place, but not all venues will work for each event.
Before you book, see if you can visit the venue and time how long it would take an attendee to get from one side of the venue to the other — or from one floor to the other. Depending on the agenda, some attendees may have to walk or ride elevators to get to different events. And you’ll want to be able to build in enough time so that the schedule flows smoothly.
2. Not Including a Time Buffer While Organizing the Event
You should always start planning for the event ahead of the time you think you actually need to start planning. Inevitably, something will go wrong as you plan. From your marketing materials having a printing error to your first choice for an event space not being available, you need to include a time buffer for these errors to play out. If you don’t, you run the risk of not being able to recover from errors in enough time to launch the conference successfully.
3. Not Considering Your Audience
The satisfaction and comfort of the audience who will be attending the conference should be paramount to all other concerns. If you end up having unsatisfied and uncomfortable people at your event, you will have essentially failed.
Always make your decisions based on whether they will improve the experience for the attendees. If the decision is cost-effective but could possibly cause people to have long wait times in line, don’t do it. Instead, find ways to cut your budget elsewhere so that you can spring for the better attendee experience.
4. Not Using Music
Music can and should be used as background entertainment during breaks to keep energy levels up, and also in common or exhibit areas. The kind of music you should choose largely depends on your attendees. If they are a lively group who prefers networking during conference breaks, you may want to play familiar chart-topping tunes that they can recognize even among all the noise. Even though everyone won’t like every chart-topper you play, it won’t matter as long as the music sets an energizing mood.
5. Not Building Reasonable Break Times Into the Agenda
Resist the urge to pack the conference agenda so full that the first break doesn’t happen for two to three hours. It’s true that people can get up and take care of their own needs, but some will try to wait it out because they don’t want to miss anything. Two hours is a long time before a scheduled break – especially if breakfast is served.
If you don’t schedule a break about 90 minutes in and periodically thereafter, you’ll run the risk of having groups of people leave the conference room when there’s a speaker change. This is unfair to the speaker and to the people who are forced to take an unscheduled break.
6. Not Asking for Feedback
If you’re planning to organize the conference again, asking for feedback is a must. You need to know what people liked and appreciated — and what they didn’t. Don’t go overboard, but ask about things you specifically chose for the comfort and satisfaction of attendees. That way, you’ll know if they are worth investing in again.
You can also ask for feedback on which speakers or presentations attendees enjoyed most or found the most value in so that you can gain insight on whether or not to book some of the same speakers again.
7. Missing Out on an Opportunity to Engage One More Time
Send out a thank you across your social media channels or send out a personal email. Ask people to post a comment or picture or reply to your email with one thing that impressed them at the conference. Anything you can do to show you care and keep people engaged just a little bit longer can help leave a lasting positive impression.