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Planning a successful conference or convention involves a lot of dedicated time and details.  Usually there is a committee who will plan an event this large, but if you find yourself as a member of one of these committees, here are some helpful tips for planning a successful conference or convention.

  1. Set goals for your event – know what your organization or board members are looking to accomplish with this event. If you take these into account from the beginning, it can help save time, energy, and money to make sure everyone is on the same page from the very start.
  2. Form a committee – if you are put in a position where you will be planning a large event, enlisting the help of a committee will allow you to break down the tasks and assign them to others. Find people with skills specific to what you will need (financial, planning, publicity, etc.) to add to your team.
  3. Choose an event date – this is probably the first step. Allowing yourself ample time to plan everything (from 1 – 2 years), will ensure that you have enough time to organize everything that needs to be done.  Having a date will also help you to secure facilities and vendors.
  4. Develop a budget – without a budget, you can spend a greater amount of money on your event than you thought you would. Do your research!  Estimate what your costs will be and what it will cost people to attend.  You will need to have costs associated with your venue (what they provide and for how much) to be able to complete this step.
  5. Secure a location – without a location, you will be scrambling to find somewhere to put everyone. Check out conference centres and hotels, compare rates and included services, and keep a list.  Make sure you book your venue far enough in advance so you can ensure that you will have ample room for attendees.
  6. Engage your major speakers or presenters – although your boss or board may have an idea of who they would like to speak or present, keep your options open. Peruse the internet to find speakers or presenters and their agents.  Do your research on the speakers and find out if they will be able to provide what you are looking for.
  7. Market your event – use every avenue you can to promote your event. E-mail, social media, and letter mail – all these will get your name and information in front of prospective attendees.  Keeping your marketing fresh will keep your event fresh in peoples’ minds.
  8. Organize registration and keep track off numbers – keeping track of registrants will help you ensure you have enough space to host everyone. Make sure you set realistic deadlines for potential attendees to register by and that you have a reliable system in place to collect payments.
  9. Plan carefully, but expect changes – keep your lines of communication open with your venue representative. This will benefit you when you have to adjust to changes while your conference or convention is happening.

Wander around the event so you know what’s going on – morning meetings with your committee are essential to ensure all is running smoothly.

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