How to make your conference one that will be talked about for years!
We’ve all been there, you arrive at the conference excited about what you’re going to learn, the networking opportunities and the promise of what you’ll walk away with only for it to fall… well… short.
Sometimes it’s hard to even put your finger on what it was about the conference that just didn’t quite hit the mark. But whatever it was, it’s not making you rush to save the date in your diary for next years’ event.
So as a conference organiser, how do you avoid this? How do you ensure that your attendees walk away raving about how great the event was rather than frustrated?
With more than a little experience in helping conference organisers plan exceptional events, here at The Pavilion Kiama, these are our top tips for making sure your conference is one that is talked about for years.
Know your conference objective
Being really clear on what you want your conference to achieve is really key in helping to ensure you hit the mark.
- Is the primary objective to give your attendees key industry information updates?
- Is it to position your company as a thought-leader?
- Is it to entertain your attendees?
- Is it to inspire?
- Is it being used as a lead generation tool to sell your products or services?
Whatever the objective, making sure you know the primary reasons you want to bring people together will make other decisions such as planning the itinerary a lot easier.
Planning is the key to conference success
As Benjamin Franklin once said; ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.
This has never been so true as when organising conferences. There are a lot of moving parts before, during and after the day so taking the time to really think about all of the aspects that need bringing together will pay dividends in the long run. It’s the small details and the finishing touches that will make your conference one that is talked about for years.
If organising conferences is not your full time ‘gig’ it can also be really helpful to put together a small committee so that you can not only divide up the tasks but also so that you’re able to share ideas and think about all of those extra touches to make the event stand out.
Don’t forget, if you’re using a venue such as The Pavilion Kiama where we run hundreds of conferences and events, our event coordinators are highly experienced in what works and what doesn’t. They can help you through and make sure you don’t forget anything.
Do less to achieve more
This might sound counter-intuitive but often, where conferences and conference organisers fall down is that they try to cram so much into their one day, two, or three day event that their attendees leave feeling utterly exhausted, not energised and inspired.
When planning your conference itinerary make sure you factor in lots of breaks and breakout sessions. A key reason that people attend conferences is the chance to network, make sure you also build in time for this.
A key mistake that we see time and time again is when organisers think the more sessions they can cram in, the more value they are providing. This is simply not true and people can only take in so much information. Far better to cut down the sessions and give attendees the chance to process and to really absorb what they are learning.
Be mindful about the catering
Food can play a big part in the success or failure of your conference. By being mindful about the catering and what you’re serving your attendees during the event can ensure that you are managing their energy levels and avoiding that dreaded afternoon slump.
For the larger conferences run over multiple days and bringing people together in-location, also be mindful of dinners involving alcohol. Whilst a large gala dinner may be a fantastic way to really top off your event, if you are planning a dinner as part of your conference, think about the timing. It may be better to leave the gala dinner until the last evening so that attendees have gotten all of the information they need in the days preceding and therefore do not need to be so fresh and alert the day after the conference ends.
A conference should be an experience
Keynotes, presentations and workshops are only part of the whole conference experience. Think about the ambiance, the social media coverage, the filming and photography, the catering. All of these elements come together to leave your delegates feeling wowed.
Start with a great venue
At somewhere like The Pavilion Kiama we’re extremely lucky to be situated in the most incredible location with plenty of natural light, ocean views and outdoor space. Choosing a venue carefully so that your attendees are not stuck for hours on end in dark and windowless, nondescript hotel basement meeting rooms will go a long way to ensuring the best experience for your attendees.
Above all, taking some time to really think about your attendees and what they need most will ensure a great conference experience that is talked about for years to come.
As one the leading conference providers on the South Coast, NSW, The Pavilion Kiama is well equipped to hold events for up to 400 delegates. Find out more about the conference facilities and conference packages visit our website for a virtual tour or contact our team on 02 4232 1419 and see why The Pavilion Kiama would be perfect for your next conference.