For true tech enthusiasts and everyone making a living in the tech industry, conferences are a great opportunity to meet some awesome new people, who are sharing the same passion. Nothing can beat the feeling of being a part of your own crowd, and being caught up in the atmosphere charged with curiosity and the opportunity to discuss various innovative solutions.
Still, not every tech conference succeeds in achieving such a great atmosphere and some, unfortunately, end up being lifeless and pointless instead, although most shortcomings could have been avoided by earlier planning.
Here are a few tips on how to organize a tech conference, and give your audience an unforgettable experience.
For your tech conference to be a success, you should start planning early, some 6 to 8 months ahead of time. Most people are making conference plans in advance, as they want to take care of important things on time, so the later you start with the announcements and calls, the harder your conference will fit into the schedules of your sponsors, speakers, and attendees.
Before you take any specific actions, you need to have a clear idea of the type of the conference you will be organizing, whether it’s a trade show event, networking or academic conference, or a community event. The purpose of your conference will affect its every aspect, starting with the program and the speakers, to the ticket prices and duration of the breaks.
Also, you need to decide between a single-track or multi-track conference, as well as whether you’ll use an invite-only approach for the selection of speakers, or place an open call for submissions. While multi-tracks are common in big trade show events, single-track conferences are irreplaceable when it comes to education and community building.
Decisions you make during this phase will give you the frame to work in, and you need to crunch numbers, make a business plan, and determine the way of financing your event. Make the promotion plan early on, in order to have enough time for early-bird and discount tickets. You want all of your seats to be taken if you want your conference to be a blast.
Choose a venue
Choosing the right venue for your conference is of crucial importance for its success, as it can either break it or make it. There are numerous questions you need to answer when making your selection:
- Target audience – you need an accurate estimation of the number of your attendees, as well as a clear idea about their expectations,
- Conference dates – establish when your guests are most likely to attend and check the available venue dates,
- Budget – does your budget cover venue costs?
- Are there some more creative locations for your conference?
- Does the venue meet your space, production, entertainment, and tech needs?
- What kind of service does the venue offer?
While choosing a venue for your conference, make sure you’ve considered the needs of your speakers, sponsors, and vendors too, and not only the needs of your attendees, as they tend to significantly differ. You want everyone to feel good and comfortable, so think of a place which can answer all those needs and interests.
Also, put catering high up in your list of priorities. With great food and drinks, you won’t risk the confusion caused by people going out of the site and back in, searching for a snack and refreshment. Be sure to provide options for everyone, including people with the most common allergies.
Be wise financially
Many entrepreneurs, sponsors, and companies you will collaborate or do business with while organizing your conference will find it more suitable to deal with other corporate bodies than individuals. So, unless you’ve already formed a corporate entity, think about registering one, and make sure you document every arrangement you make.
It will be much easier for you to deal with sponsorships and ticket money, as well as pay to your suppliers or vendors. Make sure to put all your agreements in writing, and if you need help with legal stuff, you can find vendor contracts templates online.
When thinking about finding a sponsor for your conference, the key is to focus on your benefits – you want sponsors which will make your guests’ experience richer and fuller, while at the same time adding value to your own brand. So, for starters, you need to make sure you share some common values with a sponsoring brand, as well as that you could benefit from their support.
Sponsorship is just like any other business, and to create a sponsorship deal, you will need to find the link between your conference and a potential sponsor, and show them a unique value they’ll get from joining forces with you.
Also, during the conference, be sure to give your sponsors what they paid for and even more, and not risk their goodwill for many years to come.
Treat everyone with respect
As there will be many different people at your conference, all of them with different needs and expectations, make sure you treat everyone respectfully. You can raise the odds of everyone else behaving respectfully by introducing a code of conduct with a clearly stated consequence of ejection for breaking it.
Also, having a diverse committee which will make the most relevant decisions is a good idea as it’s less likely to make anyone’s interests and needs to be neglected.
By starting early and strategically, and taking care of all the important things, such as speakers, the venue and promotion ahead of time, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take care of all the little details when the day of the conference approaches and be ready to start when the day finally comes.
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