Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – a leading conference planning and event management company in London.
Organising a business conference can seem like a daunting task as you start out; there are usually lots of ever changing factors to take into consideration so it can sometimes feel as if you are chasing your tail. However, if correctly planned for and if process is taken one step at a time, it can be easier than you first think and before you know it you’re a professional conference organiser running a successful event! Here are some of my tips for running a smooth event:
It may be obvious, but the venue is one of the most important factors of organising the business conference. With so many venues out there, particularly for those London planners spoilt for choice, how do you know which one to go with? Well first of all, the venue should match the type of company you are organising the event for. Are they a vibrant fun company looking for a modern “out there” venue to tie in with their brand, or are they a more traditional company looking for a typical English venue that fits in with their company values?
Start your venue search early, and make sure you’re covering the full brief with the venues that you are selecting.
For a business conference, presumably an important part of the day is getting business messages across, and believe it or not, the meeting space can play an important part in this. Is there natural daylight? Are the ceilings high enough to build a set that can be seen from the back of the audience? Is there enough space for back projection? What lots of professional organisers often forget is that this can take up a third of the space in the room!
Location is important, ensuring attendees can easily get to and also find the venue. For those that aren’t near a station, is there parking? Is it easy for all attendees to get to, wherever they are coming from? For international events, it is always best to check flight access before committing to a particular destination.
In London, the location can actually be quite tricky; whilst we have some amazing transport links, this makes attendees even fussier about which tube stop, how far a walk from the station etc.
AV and production
Is your dedicated AV team from a company that is reliable and that you’ve used before? Are they based at or have they previously worked at the venue? Is the kit provided up to a high standard? All questions that need to be asked and checked out prior to the event. Ensure you’ve got the right size screen for the number of attendees, and that if sound is required that you’ve checked this and that speakers have rehearsed beforehand.
Communications to delegates are key pre-event, ensuring they have saved the date plenty of time in advance giving attendees no reason to miss it. Engaging with them beforehand is likely to increase attendance and also their motivation to be there on the day and to interact with their peers. Reminders are also useful, along with joining instructions that are sent in plenty of time so that everyone can make their travel plans on the day and enjoy a successful event.
Food and beverage
With a vast number of conferences for professionals to attend, “conference food” can get a little samey. Try mixing it up with different caterers and different styles of food to make the delegate experience a bit different! Bowl food can go down really well, as everyone has the chance to try a few various options, keeping it interesting and also allows for delegates to stand and network too. Don’t forget to keep the coffee coming! Either way, whatever you offer, there’s got to be enough, as long days can be tiring and it’s always good to keep attendees interested by providing lots of brain food.
Agenda and presenters
Last but definitely not least, ensure the agenda is varied for the conference. Plan to have a mixture of keynote speakers/panel sessions/an energetic host to keep the day interesting. If needed, try to coach the speakers during their rehearsals, ensure they are speaking into the mic and really engaging with the audience. Don’t put a serious or important topic in the afternoon directly after lunch as this is often a time of day that people switch off for a while. If there’s an activity, this is often a good time to run this!
Whilst organising a business conference can seem daunting even for professional organisers, following these 7 key points is a great way to ensure you run a successful event and never look back.