Before you start registering for events planned for 2023, clarify your conference purpose and the types of conference that are most relevant.
That starts with understanding what a conference is and how it provides value to those who attend.
Simply put, a conference is an opportunity for a group of people to gather in order to learn new information about their industry and collaborate on the ideas that are most relevant to it.
Those ideas might include the introduction of new products or services, the recognition of current challenges, and even forecasting how the industry must shift to meet new demands.
Here, we review the purpose of a conference — and why you should attend those that matter to your industry — along with some conference planning tips and, finally, the types of conferences most commonly attended and hosted by major organizations.
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We’ll wrap this up with a list highlighting a few 2023 conferences we’re really looking forward to…
Understanding a conference’s purpose — what’s the point?
Ultimately, the purpose of any conference is to communicate key ideas and issues concerning an industry, while presenting the tools and solutions that will make it — and those working within it — stronger.
Often held annually, most conferences feature a packed agenda of speakers, breakout sessions, panel discussions, as well as entertainment and the chance to interact socially with peers.
The opportunity to interact and network with industry leaders and colleagues is another conference purpose that attracts attendees.
Bringing as many industry voices together in a meaningful way is the goal of conference planners, who are tasked with delivering conference benefits to all conference stakeholders: attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors.
So, what exactly are the benefits of a conference?
The bullet points of conference benefits
- Each conference presents the opportunity or opportunities to gain new industry information, explore new skills or hone current capabilities.
- A conference can educate, excite, inspire, and motivate — all driving forces for industry change and innovation.
- Attending a conference provides access to networking and new interactions with like-minded professionals.
- Conferences keep attendees engaged and current on industry trends, developments, challenges, and solutions.
- Breaking out of a typical work routine by attending a conference can be relaxing and energizing, the benefits of which you bring back to the workplace.
With so many important benefits at stake, conference planners have a lot on their plates!
That’s why we’ve created a condensed checklist to help when planning your next conference.
The conference planner’s condensed conference checklist
When you start to think about every detail that drives and defines a conference, it’s easy to suddenly feel overwhelmed by the prospect of planning a conference.
Of course, you want your conference to be a resounding success for all stakeholders. That means ensuring the content is valuable, the venue accessible, and the schedule full of relevant, engaging, and entertaining opportunities for everyone to learn and network. Phew!
Deep breath — you got this. Simply move down this checklist, point by point, and you’ll manage a memorable and meaningful conference experience for all involved.
- Decide on an ideal date and time to host the conference. Carefully review the dates of other events to make sure yours doesn’t end up competing for attendance.
- Like they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Convenience, accessibility, and cost should feature high on your list of venue considerations.On that note…
Keep in mind the finer points of choosing a conference venue
Similar to our bullet points of conference benefits, here’s another bulleted list to help you choose the right venue for your next conference.
- It needs to be accessible. Choose a location that is easy to find and travel to, making sure that public transportation and convenient parking options are plentiful.
- Be mindful of your budget when it comes to venue costs. A little comparison shopping can go a long way in ensuring that your venue offers the most bang for your buck.
- Size does matter when you’re considering the right conference venue. No one wants to feel crammed into a space, so make sure accommodations are comfortable.
- Check that your potential venue offers ample amenities from catering considerations to the availability of audio/visual equipment.
- The right ambiance and atmosphere to complement your conference, whether it’s more festive or formal.
- This sounds silly, but before you get excited about a particular venue, check its availability against your ideal conference date. Plan ahead!
- A conference venue is only as great as its flexibility. Find out if the venue’s managers are able and eager to address and accommodate your specific needs or sudden changes to your conference.Now, back to our condensed checklist…
- Be clear and confident about your budget, allocating enough funds for potential expenditures, as well as expected costs.
- Make sure everyone knows about your conference with a smart marketing plan to connect with your ideal audience and increase registrations… and your ROI in the process.
- Source speakers that are industry experts and engaging voices. Think of who your ideal attendee wants to hear and learn from and then invite them to share their expertise by taking the stage at your conference.
- Plan each detail of the conference, including any opportunity to create more value for attendees, such as social activities and fun networking events. While a full calendar is attractive to attendees, do make every effort to build in needed downtime and breaks between sessions and events.
- Provide yourself with a plan B. Things happen, speakers get sick, plans change. Make sure your plan can accommodate these unexpected changes by having backup options that easily slide into place if needed.
With all this talk about conferences, it’s important to recognize the different types of conferences in order to register for those that will offer the most value to your and your professional goals.
An alpha-order review of the most common conference types
- Academic conferences — a favorite among academics, scholars, and students, and researchers, academic conferences are commonly organized around individual academic disciplines, though there are some interdisciplinary options.
- Authors’ conferences — here you’ll find writers, from unknown to bestselling authors, joining together to discuss all things related to writing, the writing process, and the publishing industry.
- Business conferences — ideal opportunities for professionals to network, business conferences are often focused on sales, marketing, and financial factors driving a specific industry.
- Educational conferences — a valuable opportunity for educators, educational conferences are often held to present best practices when it comes to teaching, which can include new information about how students learn and the skills they need to develop in order to continue realizing academic and, later professional, success.
- Peace conferences — aimed at creating peace between countries, peace conferences often follow conflict and are intended as a solution to stop conflict and restore harmony
- Press or news conferences — popular among big brands, businesses, professional organizations and politicians, press or news conferences are typically held to announce an important event, development, or discovery.
- Scientific conferences — these conferences give scientists the chance to come together and share their work and announce any important research developments, while collaborating with other professionals in their discipline.
- Social/cultural conferences — typically global in nature, social or cultural conferences bring a variety of people and professionals together to evaluate cultural and social issues, including political concerns.
- Trade conferences — with the aim of creating or highlighting additional opportunities for trading and investment, trade conferences are attended by economists, business leaders, and political professionals.
Excited to start registering for conferences in 2023? We would love the opportunity to meet you and introduce you to our event management solutions.
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