Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Conference

Planning a conference is hard work, and there’s much to consider and get done. It’s easy to make a mistake with all that pressure on your back! But we have some good news! We’ve put together a list of mistakes to avoid and ensure your next conference is a huge success!


1. Not Paying Attention to the Calendar

It’s challenging to coordinate conference dates, times, the venue, the vendor, and booking speakers. And don’t forget about hiring staff. All of these are crucial and must be tracked with your calendar.

One way to keep track of it all is to ensure each person who has a role in the conference has a timeline and a schedule. It’s also imperative to record the booking deadline for the venue and when you need to confirm your space with the venue management.

And don’t forget to include the marketing and promotion needed to make your conference a success.


2. Not Creating a Budget

Another common mistake that can be avoided is not creating a budget for your conference. It’s possible to pay for the venue and hire a catering service. But then you find there aren’t funds for the key speaker! Now what? Will your conference attendees have to do without the key speaker, who may be the reason they’re coming in the first place?

This is a bad scenario to find yourself in, and it shows everyone there’s been poor planning. This can also give a bad impression about the conference and the business sponsoring the event.

To avoid this kind of mistake, it’s important to do extensive calculations to determine the budget for your conference. This should be done well ahead of the event. Be sure the numbers are reviewed at least four times to ensure they’re accurate and cover everything needed for your conference. And be sure to leave some extra funds available. There may be some surprise costs that must also be covered.


3. Overestimating The Conference Space

You’ve been to conferences or other events that took place in a space that was either too large or too small. Either way, it’s a disaster. When the conference space is too large, everyone feels like they’re in an echoing hall.

On the other hand, what happens if the space is too small? You may have found what seemed like the right conference space online and hurried to book it. But when you show up the night before your conference, you find the space isn’t large enough!

You can avoid this common conference mistake by visiting each conference venue before you book. It’s best to create a list of 3-5 venues that look like they’re a good fit. Visit each one and consider the number of attendees, how the space should be arranged, and more. Will everything (tables, chairs, equipment) all fit, along with all the attendees? Will the space comfortably hold everyone, without looking too big?

Choose a space that’s able to fit the number of attendees and all the equipment needed for the event. And remember to also consider space for workshops (they may need separate rooms), product booths, and more.


4. Making the Conference Too Long

Another common mistake for conferences is that the sponsor sometimes makes them too long. While many events do take place over 2-3 days, is it really necessary for your conference? Or can your conference easily be held in 1 day? If so, then choose to make it a one-day event rather than longer. Your attendees will be happier, and your conference will be a huge success!

As you plan the conference, ensure there’s plenty of time for speakers, meals, and other sessions. Make good use of the time, but try to keep the conference from becoming too long.


5. Not Confirming Participants’ Attendance

You might think of a conference as something like a wedding. When you’re planning a wedding (large or small), you ask anyone coming to the event to RSVP ahead of time. This way, it’s easier to plan on how much cake is needed, the number of refreshments required, and more.

Now, take this analogy and apply it to your conference. What would happen if you planned for 1,000 attendees? You’d have everything ready for this number of people, including marketing materials, meals & refreshments, venue space, and more. But if they don’t come, and only a few show up, you’ve spent money that could have been saved by asking attendees to confirm their attendance in advance.

And those who do come will be surprised by the light attendance. This can make your conference look like a huge failure. So, be sure to ask all attendees to confirm their attendance well in advance of your conference.


6. Not Checking the Technology

These days, everyone carries one or more devices with them. They need to stay in contact with family, friends, and colleagues. In addition, presenters and speakers usually need technology for the presentations. But what happens if you forget to check the tech?

Ensure the venue you choose has the right tech in place to support your conference and attendees. The usual tech includes WiFi (with wired & wireless connectivity), charging points (everyone will need to charge their devices), projector, sound equipment, and more. You may also want to ask your presenters or speakers what tech they need. Ask in advance so that you can find a venue with the right facilities.

In addition, be sure the venue provides tech assistance. It’s also a good idea to ask if the venue’s tech assistance can help ensure the systems are all working the day before the event. Otherwise, you may end up with things not working, such as the sound and more.

Failing to ensure your venue has the proper equipment and tech support will ensure the event is a failure, too.


Summing It Up

These are some of the most common mistakes that are made when planning a conference. However, with the right planning methods in place and by following our tips, you can avoid these issues and ensure your next conference is a huge success!

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