Walking away from a great conference is hugely motivating. You are immersed in an environment of people who share the same vision and passion as you. You leave with a mass of notes filled with new advice and methods. It’s energizing – especially for a Productivity Ninja. Your head is brimming with fresh ideas and ways in which you can apply the teachings of today to your company’s future. At least that’s what we are aiming for when people leave one of our Time Management Workshops.
So, you’re thinking about holding a conference? Not sure where you should start? Here at Think Productive we have a few tips that can help you plan and prepare. Conference’s take a lot of time and effort to set up, therefore to host one effectively, you have to plan one efficiently. With so many moving parts, it’s hard to focus on one part at a time. But what if you could divide it all up into some simple steps to execute. Now that’s handy.
Find your focus
When deciding on a theme for your conference, remember that it can be broad and high level or laser-focused and niche. It depends on what you want to create, what speakers you want and who you want to attend. Remember, a broader focus will more likely result in more people attending. We concentrate on improving productivity and hold fairly specific workshops, such as Email Etiquette Training, Email Training and Effective Meetings Training. Having a theme helps unify your ideas and get the relevant speakers for your attendees.
Getting this decided early on will allow you plenty of time to prepare the rest of the conference planning. Just remember to stay true to your theme throughout. Think of it as a company mission statement, involve it in everything you do in the preparation phase.
Teamwork makes the conference work
It is no surprise that running a conference is hard work, especially when trying to combat all the moving parts yourself. Finding someone, or a group of people, who share your vision and are willing to help, will do you and your conference the world of good.
These people will also offer guidance when you get stuck and kerb your enthusiasm a bit when they feel you may be going a bit overboard. Working with someone you trust and who holds the same passion, will offer you a great amount of support and greatly reduce your stress levels.
Who’s got the mic?
The speakers can make or break a conference. This is because, on the most part, a conference with a distinguished speaker will attract attendees just because of that, not necessarily because of the event. However, offering new talent the opportunity to speak to those with shared values can work extremely well. The most important factor is that the speaker is engaging and entertaining, and of course, original. It is very dependent on what type of event you are holding and what your focus is. It is worth noting that good speakers get picked up in advance, so whatever type of speaker you choose to go for, make sure you do it early on. Once the speakers are selected, you can start telling people about it and building up the buzz.
Location, Location, Location.
One of the most important decisions. Where will your event be held? It doesn’t have to be a conventional venue either, cinemas regularly rent out their space to conferences. Just think about those comfortable seats! Your attendees will be sitting down for a long duration, somewhere butt-friendly could definitely improve morale. It’s the little things.
Where geographically will your event be hosted? Regardless of the venue itself, where it is located can have a massive impact on how many people attend. If your target audience is gathered in a particular place, then try and choose a venue there. For example, London is a massive hub for entrepreneurship and business in general. Focus on your theme, find your target audience and then go to them.
Let’s get organised
There’s going to be a lot to plan, so get it all written down and onto a spreadsheet. This allows for all the information to be in one place. If you use Google Sheets, then you will be able to access all the details at any time, from anywhere. With the amount of information that you will be getting, expect this spreadsheet to be relatively large. Therefore, it will need to be kept organised, using different tabs for different areas of the conference i.e. accommodation, expenses, speakers, the schedule, etc.
When looking at this wealth of information, don’t let it get you down. Focus on what needs to be sorted in order and work through it methodically. Might be worth noting down the best and worst case scenarios for certain things. This allows you to prepare for alterations and last minute changes, of which I’m sure there will be a few!
Use your network
When you have finished organizing your event, you will want to market it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network. Most people will oblige when you ask them to promote an event of yours, especially friends and co-workers. Whether this promotion is on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or word-of-mouth. Get people talking about your event. You can also leverage your contacts at an earlier stage, ask people to recommend speakers or potential sponsors. If they share your vision, they should be more than willing to lend a hand. Don’t be afraid to accept constructive criticism from these people, they may just offer the iconic idea of the event.
Just do it
The event has arrived, you planned it like a true Productivity Ninja, and everybody is happy. We hope these tips help you get that outcome. If you want to know more about increasing productivity, then feel free to check out our workshops.
If you have recently run or plan to run your own conference, we would love to hear about it. Let us know @thinkproductive
By Miles Singleton