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What are you planning to host? A breakfast panel discussion or perhaps an all-day event? Whatever it is you’re hosting, planning a conference isn’t always an easy task. You’re going to have to do a lot of research. That includes sourcing, booking and most importantly, organising.

Successfully organising a conference will require a large amount of forethought. The whole planning process can take a couple of weeks, depending on the size of the group. And it’s possible to host a successful conference in several days if you can make a few swift decisions. If you’re planning a conference with little or no experience, you’re likely to lose a lot of time over-thinking small details while overlooking bigger and more important ones.

So if you’re about to plan a conference, here are a few tips to help you host a successful event.

Always plan in advance

It might sound simple at first but there’s nothing more important than planning ahead. It’s easy not to follow this point as there are so many day-to-day tasks that one can get caught up in. And when that happens, planning the actual event usually gets put to the side. Allocating time for when tasks need to be done is one of the most important things to do when planning a conference. It’ll ensure that every step is being taken and it keeps tasks from falling through the cracks. There are a lot of online tools you could use to help plan for the event. So make sure to check them out.

Be prompt

Being on time can save you a great deal of, well, time when planning an event. If you’re late to plan meetings or start meetings late, you’re losing valuable time. Besides, it isn’t good role modeling. You should also start meetings on time, regardless of whether some members haven’t arrived yet. If members are regularly late for meetings, it’ll be your job to address the issue.

Be respectful

It’s amazing how far “thank you” and “please”will get you with other people. A conference cannot be put on with a few individual’s hard work only. For the event to take place you should work with volunteers, presenters and campus departments. And you should continually thank and recognise the efforts they are making throughout the process. It’ll not only help them feel appreciated but will also keep them motivated and energised as the planning process continues. And by being polite with everyone who makes the conference possible, you’ll increase the chances for a successful event.

Do you have a venue?

The location of the conference venue is important to ensure that the maximum amount of people attend the event. When looking at your location, make sure transportation is readily available to the venue. That way you’ll ensure that the attendees can easily arrive. You should look for a venue with all the necessary components needed for the conference. This includes audiovisual equipment, a stage and microphones. Is the venue safe? Check whether the venue has turnstiles in place to ensure extra safety. Does the venue offer charging stations and WiFi? If not, then this is something you should look into.

Make your venue reservations early

This is one of the first things you should do in the planning process. It can sometimes be difficult to secure a venue that can accommodate your specific needs. So it’s best to set your schedule around what works for you. If a venue can’t be reserved a year in advance, talk to the manager and find out what they can do. If nothing else works, it might be best to have the conference in one of the lecture halls or any other room on campus.

You should also get your hands dirty

People in charge usually lead by delegating and don’t get involved with the work being done. As the organiser, you should be able to get your hands dirty and help your team with tasks where needed. But you won’t be able to assist with everything because you have tasks of your own. But show your planning committee you can get right in there with them as it'll earn you not only respect but a willingness to follow.

To plan and get everything done before the big day can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. You’re offering something to your fellow student that’s not offered enough, so it’s important to make the best of it.

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