Running a conference can be very challenging. If you are in charge of organising an event it can feel like there is a lot of pressure on you to get everything perfect. Don’t worry – everyone makes mistakes – but the truth is that many of the most regular conference planning errors are completely avoidable. Here are some of the most common conference planning mistakes.
Re-using conference speakers
It can often be the case that a speaker gives a fantastic presentation, but when they are invited back they return to topics and preach the same ideas. A good conference needs to have fresh material and ideas rather than relying on past successes, so try not to get into the habit of bringing back speakers too often.
If you have certain speakers that are enormously popular then it’s a great idea to have them return for another year as they may bring a loyal crowd with them. But it’s not uncommon to see conferences filled with the same line-up of speakers year after year and it just ends up getting stale.
Not keeping up with technology
There’s nothing worse than a conference that feels behind the times – how are you supposed to provide relevant and current advice if your conference feels dated? With almost everyone attending your conference now likely to bring a smartphone with them it makes sense to offer free Wi-Fi. This allows them to get additional information, access your website and engage with other attendees on social media.
It can also be a great idea to invest in an audience response system to improve the quality of the presentations on offer. You could also look into the option of live streaming your event and making it available online in order to increase its reach.
Not allowing time for networking
While you might like to imagine that everyone who attends your conference is simply there to listen to the amazing set of presentations you’ve organised, it’s not always the case. The presentations are an important part, but most people at your conference will want there to be networking opportunities. You should allow time for both pre- and post-event networking to make sure that you keep everyone happy.
Trying to fit too much in
Remember that time management is an important part of your job as an event planner. It can be tempting to fill all the available time with presentations in order for your conference to feel productive. However, many organisers forget to allow plenty of time for leaving the stage and setting up each new presentation.
It’s also true that organisers often leave no time for Q&A after each presentation is over. Q&A sessions are an extremely important aspect of most presentations as they allow time for audiences to engage further with the topic and follow up on any points that were unclear. If you don’t leave time for these sessions the overall quality of the conference will suffer.