How to ensure that your next company conference is a success

Depending on the size of your organisation, when planning for your next major in-house gathering - conference, congress, symposium - remember that such events are what you make them. How do you assemble your brightest stars, integrate their contributions, structure the event, identify and explore opportunities, and focus on worthwhile outcomes? Successful conferences require time, money, and effort. Maximise returns on your investment and ensure that your next company event achieves the best possible outcomes by addressing these essential considerations...

1. Start preliminary planning early.

The best outcomes are achieved when you take plenty of time to consider what you want your event to accomplish. Consult with key people such as your CEO, MD or Chairman to identify goals and outcomes. Consider timing and processes to avoid clashes with other important company, state, and national events and demands.

2. Focus on a design that embraces the company culture.

The Goldilocks Principle (making sure that everything is ‘just right’) must guide your planning. When bringing your people together as participants, you need to consider issues as varied as selecting a conference venue, a conference theme, building ownership and commitment, involving delegates in pre-conference activities, capitalising on the use of technologies - and ensuring a cultural fit. A conference designed to reflect the overall company culture and direction, rather than a one-off event and an end in itself, is the more effective objective.

3. Assemble your planning group.

One of the most effective ways to ensure cultural fit is to form a small steering committee of ‘thought-leaders’. This group is responsible for overall design, planning, conduct, and review of the event. For larger conferences, members of the steering committee could also chair subgroups, which focus on such areas as progam, social activities, venue, transportation, accommodation, budget, and publicity - and report progress to regular steering committee meetings.

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