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Organizing a Conference: Tips & Templates

Organizing a Conference: Tips & Templates

Patricia Robb

From the original blog post, Organizing a Conference

Organizing a conference can be fun! Really! I enjoy it. The only problem is, you usually have to organize the conference and still do all your other work and that makes for some pretty hectic days leading up to the event. You definitely need to be organized!

Start with a good To-Do list. I have included in this post three pages of a sample To-Do List. If you have never organized a large event, this should help get you started. I am convinced that with a good To-Do list you can organize just about anything!

In my early years of being a secretary, I didn’t want to have anything to do with organizing a conference or any event. Everything seemed to go wrong when I did! I organized a Departmental group meeting once and when we got to the hotel they had no record of my reservation. Fortunately they were able to accommodate us, but I had the feeling I was jinxed when it came to organizing.

Now I love the planning, organizing and especially the interaction with the people who are registering. The day of the event is great as you get to meet the people you have only met by email. As you are handing out name tags you can finally put a name to a face and greet them on behalf of your organization. It is nice to see all your hard work coming together and everything going smoothly. Of course you are madly scrambling behind the scenes to make it look that way to the attendees!

Each time I organize an event I learn something. One dinner event I organized I must have been having a chocolate craving when I arranged the menu items. After a great meal the dessert was served – a rich chocolate cake. Break time comes around and I look and there are chocolate chip cookies and chocolate crunch bars. Then the next break comes around and – yep! More chocolate! Now when I set up menu items I get the help of the hotel event co-ordinator. They are a great resource to assist you in picking meal items, with suggesting table set up and just about anything to do with your event. They want to assist you to make it successful. I now have them on speed dial whenever I am organizing anything.

I am always preparing for the next event so if something about this conference didn’t go as nicely as I would have liked, I make a note of it on my To-Do list to remind myself for the next time. You can be sure I put NO CHOCOLATE! on the To-Do list under meal planning after that last one.

If you have materials that need to be printed for your conference, get a good printing company and realize that they are the experts! Tell them what you need and they will let you know how you can accomplish that goal.

Notify your Mailroom staff of your needs so they can order any extra supplies. There is enough to worry about when organizing a conference without finding out at the last minute that the supply room doesn’t stock more than 100 name badge holders and you’ve confirmed for 250!

Even the smallest things I put on my To-Do list. You think you will remember, but you are so busy on the day of the event that unless you have it written down you can forget. You need something you can check off to make sure everything is in the box going over with you to the conference.

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Read the original blog post, Organizing a Conference

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