Planning and conducting a successful
corporate conference is an enormous and
important task. Huge sums of money are
usually invested. Huge amounts of time, too!
Here are twelve quick tips to help make
your big event an even bigger success.
- Use BIG, CLEAR names on nametags.
Use a bold, sans-serif typeface with the
largest possible letter size. Nametags
should be easy to read from at least 12
feet (3 meters) away. The whole purpose
of a nametag is to make it easy for
people to meet, mingle and say ‘Hello!’
No sense giving out nametags that
require your conference participants to
squint and stare.
- Keep participants hot by keeping
the room cool.
Keep your conference room temperature
set toward cool. Studies show people are
most alert at 62–64° Fahrenheit (16–17°
Have participants move and stay active
during the conference. If necessary,
advise them in advance to wear a suit,
light jacket or sweater.
This approach to room temperature is
much better than looking out over an
audience that is too warm, too cozy and
too, too close to sleep!
- Distribute a participants’
Gather names and complete contact
information of all conference delegates.
Assemble them in a user-friendly
networking sheet for during and after
Use a digital camera to include
head-and-shoulders portraits of each
conference delegate. This makes it easy
for participants to find each other
during the event, and easier still to
remember each other after the conference
- Use a variety of activities.
Keep your conference engaging and
unique. Employ a wide range of
conference activities: speeches;
conference games; interactive workshops;
exhibitions; panel discussions;
question-and-answer sessions with
presenters, customers and suppliers;
themed meals; social events, etc.
- Pick your theme and promote it.
Give your conference a distinctive theme
and title. If your event is already
known as ‘The 3rd Annual Manufacturer’s
Convention’ (or similar), then add a
sub-title to the event to distinguish
this year’s event from the ones before
Here are some examples of conference
events I have helped design and conduct:
‘Thriving in the Future’, ‘Riding the
Waves of Change’, ‘New Opportunities,
New Challenges’, ‘Putting Our Strategy
to Work’, ‘Putting Our Customers on
When appropriate, couple your theme with
an attractive logo to illustrates the
key idea or message. Repeat the theme
throughout your conference. Ask
presenters to link their content and
conclusions to your chosen theme,
providing continuity and ongoing
Repeat the theme and/or logo on all your
conference decorations and take-home
material: folders, notebooks, nametags,
banners, shirts, etc.
- Set the look of conference
Once you decide on a theme and logo or
illustration for your event, encourage
presenters and exhibitors to use them in
all their displays, take-home materials
and presentation graphics.
Provide presenters and exhibitors with
camera-ready images in hard copy, on CD,
or by direct download from your website.
Send these out early so there is plenty
of time for everyone to customize their
material, making your conference look
- Begin before the conference.
Get your audience participating in the
conference even before they arrive
on-site. Send out advance mailings with
selected readings, ‘think-about’
responsibilities, a detailed program
- Continue the conference after
Extend and prolong conference value by
sending out selected materials after the
conference is over. Send a follow-up
article, newsletter, results of a
survey, printed version of action plans
or decisions made during the conference,
etc. Put your own cover letter on top of
the package with thanks and
congratulations to the delegates, and an
invitation to your next conference
Put a page on your website with
photographs from the conference, key
ideas and articles presented at the
event, survey results, etc. Promote the
post-conference website during the
- Triple check all audio-visual
If the first thing your audience hears
is ‘Can you hear me in the back?’, you
have failed on this key point.
If the speaker says, ‘Can we have the
lights down please?’ and the lights
don’t come down right away, you have
failed on this key point.
To make your conference a success,
triple check all microphones,
projectors, screens, computers, music
sources, lights, air-conditioning
And just in case, have back-ups ready to
go if needed.
- If you start with tea and coffee,
schedule a ‘bio-break’ early.
Offering coffee and tea during
conference registration is a very nice
touch, especially if you include
pastries and fresh fruit. But if your
conference begins at 8:30 am, don’t wait
until 10:30 am to schedule the first
- Begin with a bang.
Start your conference with a powerful
video, captivating slides, stirring
presentation, strong first speech,
dramatic performance, multi-media
extravaganza – or just about anything
else that gets the audience interested
and involved. When you start strong,
your conference is off to a good start.
When you start with a boring lecture
from the CEO about last quarter’s
financial results, you will be trying to
recover all day.
- End with a memorable finale.
Make your final impression a lasting
one. Close your conference with an
amazing speaker, tear-jerking song,
major award presentation, multi-media
event or anything else that gets the
audience motivated and reminds them why
they came in the first place.
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