How To Put On A Successful Conference

Done well, with everything organised to cater for the attendees, you’ll give your conference every chance of being successful. Get a few things wrong, and you could find the conference message is drowned out by the grumbles. Here are a few pointers to help you put on the perfect conference.


Hold your conference somewhere that is easily accessed by car, bus, train, on foot, and by taxi. Don’t test attendees’ patience by making the venue hard to get to. Choose somewhere central, if possible, that local people – including taxi drivers – will know. It sounds simple but often conference organisers choose the cheaper venue on the outskirts of town, only to find it doesn’t have the greatest transport links. By all means go for an inspiring venue, as long as it’s accessible.


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Make sure the inside temperature is comfortable; not too hot so that people get drowsy, and not too cool so that people have to keep their jackets on to stay warm. Organisers should bear in mind that a large group of people adds up to a lot of body heat and factor that in when setting the temperature control.


A pet-hate for attendees is the speaker who goes on too long. Effective speeches and presentations are short and to-the-point. Long speeches put people to sleep, unless the speaker has exceptional rhetorical skills. Have a facilitator who can makes speakers stick to their scheduled slot. This way, speakers can be warned they need to wrap it up as the time allowed approaches and, if necessary, they should be cut off. It is important that the closing speech doesn’t over-run, especially if people have a train or plane to catch.

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Clip-on name badges are ideal, as not everyone likes having to use ID badges that are attached with a safety pin, especially if they’re wearing a new jacket, or a top made from delicate fabric. Another popular type of name badge is the cord round the neck model, but whichever style you choose, always ensure that attendees can collect their ID badge at the reception area when they arrive.


Be sure to check that the venue has good mobile reception. The last thing you want is attendees having to stand outside to get a signal, or to check their messages. Free wi-fi is no longer considered an added bonus by people attending conferences – it is expected to be available.

Sound and vision

Makes sure the sound system works well and, if you need to spend more for quality sound, then don’t skimp. Feedback from a microphone or poor sound from inferior audio equipment is frustrating for delegates and counter-productive. If you are using audiovisual equipment run checks to make sure everything is working well – there’s nothing worse than having to struggle to get something to work, while conference sits in silence.


Put signs up telling people where important facilities are, such as the toilets. Not all venues have adequate signs telling people where things are, so make sure you get the basics right and avoid having delegates wandering about in desperate search of the toilet. Signs should also direct people to any catering facilities, meeting rooms, gymnasium, lounge area, and parking.


Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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