5 Key Conference Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

Whether you’re an experienced event organiser nor a newcomer to the world of conference planning, there’s always something to learn about how to make the entire process as smooth and successful as possible. The most commonly asked question by organisers of events and conferences is ‘what do I need to do?’.

This list has the potential to be ridiculously extensive so, instead, we’ve compiled this list of things you don’t do when planning a conference. Knowing what to avoid gives you a clear idea of how your event should pan out, and lets you avoid disastrous mistakes before they ruin your conference.

1. Not Organising Presentations Until The Last Minute

Whether people within your company and giving presentations, or you’re hoping to organise a number of guest speakers, organisation and planning well in advance is absolutely vital. Not planning far enough ahead for guest speakers will mean they’re less likely to be able to attend, and may have already agreed to speak at a competing conference. Poor planning with your own speakers means that your presentations may be ill-organised, and you lose the authority as an ‘industry expert’ that you would’ve had beforehand.

2. Failing To Advertise Or Market Successfully

Your conference could be the most exciting and engaging event ever organised, but all of that is a waste of time if no-one shows up or wants to attend. To get people to come, you’ve got to market your conference effectively. Utilise industry publications, online marketing, email newsletters to existing clients, social media and any other avenues of communication you have at your disposal. Do it well in advance so that people will be more likely to be able to attend, but don’t forget to send people reminders – we’re all sometimes forgetful of events unless given a friendly reminder!

3. Hiring An Unsuitable Venue (Or Booking Without Viewing!)

Your venue is one of the most important parts of the conference – it’s how attendees will form their impressions, and its size and setup is vital in ensuring a successful event. Always view venues before making a booking and consider its size, appearance, facilities and location. Ask yourself whether it’s suitable and offers everything you’ll need – it’s also worth finding out whether refreshments, catering or accommodation are available.

4. Trying Too Hard To Save Money

Whether it’s the venue, computing equipment, catering or event staff, someone that’s willing to do work for a suspiciously-low price point might not be able to guarantee a quality service. Are they experienced? Are the products/service they’re providing you lacking quality? Will they cut corners? Getting a good deal is important, but prioritising price usually means you’ll neglect quality. Strike a balance between the budget-conscious boss and the need to impress your attendees.

5. ‘Death By Powerpoint’ – Not Engaging Your Audience

You can plan to perfection and do literally everything else right, but if you’re not engaging your audience (whether they’re your employees or this is an industry/public conference) then your message will be lost, people will lose interest and all that hard work will be down the drain. You don’t’ have to go as far as pyrotechnics, but avoiding a text-heavy slideshow is a good start. Use humour where appropriate and, even if your audience are experts, break your points down into easily digestible sections to keep your audience’s attention.

Now you know where to avoid failure when planning your conference you should be ready to either get out there and make your first foray into event organisation a smash hit, or make your next conference blow all your previous attempts out the water with a well-oiled machine of an event – all thanks to these five simple tips!

This guest post was written by Tom McShane – an avid blogger and regular conference attendee. As well as looking out for those clichéd mistakes from his colleagues, Tom also recommends the conference venues from the National Motorcycle Museum for anyone wanting to avoid a disastrous conference!

*These views are not my own this post complies with my Disclosure Policy – please do not copy without prior consent*

2 Comments

  1. Clare Charity Centre
    May 21, 2014 / 9:34 am

    Good tips here. When going for a conference venue (or anything else) it’s always good to look at testimonials to see the quality of the conference venue. Always try and book well in advance, so you can plan and prepare properly.
    Clare Charity Centre recently posted..Hello world!My Profile

    • May 21, 2014 / 5:47 pm

      Good point Clare – checking testimonials is a really useful tool.

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