5 Things To Consider When Planning A Conferencing Event

Planning A Conference

Putting on a conferencing event is a great way for your business to showcase new products and services and create a sense of excitement and buzz. Whether your business is explicitly showcasing something new or is simply throwing a party to say "thank you" to your customers and clients, the purpose is to network, create working relationships and build trust and rapport. If you don't have a rapport with clients and leads and industry professionals, your business will suffer.

If you're in the planning stages of your event, there are some things that require careful consideration - the guest list, the speakers and their presentations, the show run and event agenda, the venue, and the catering. Below is more information to set you on the right track.

1. Guest List

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when aiming to host a successful event is inviting the right people. Therefore, it is wise to plan your event around your guest list.

If you plan on inviting industry experts, you should consult the industry calendar to ensure that your event does not collide with any other important dates. Also, consider letting people know the way in advance to maximise RSVPs and garner interest. The more official you make your event, the more intrigued people will be and the more likely they will attend.

If your event is large and your invite list includes competing or conflicting guests, it may be a good idea to get coloured lanyards made so that people can easily identify who is who, and from where. This tactic may help to mitigate any awkward or uncomfortable encounters, but may also help to generate healthy networking.

2. Speakers and Presentations

At a conferencing event is it important to have engaging and thought-provoking talks. Whatever the motivation behind your event is, it is key to ensure that the subjects spoken about on the day are relevant, interesting and inclusive.

To ensure you get maximum attendees to your event, you should offer valuable industry expertise by senior members of your business, or enlist the help of industry experts to share their knowledge on the subject at hand. Depending on the scale of your event, there should be multiple talks that vary in the subject area to give the guests a well-rounded experience.

Creative planning and strategy are key when designing conferencing events. Audience interest and engagement will waver if they are being spoken to for 20+ minutes by someone standing at a lectern. Therefore, in order for talks to be effective and memorable, they should be accompanied by top quality presentation graphics. Include images, video clips, sound effects, music, case studies, important statistics, etc., and carefully time the presentation to fit the talk.

3. Show Run

Another key component to consider when planning a conferencing event is the show run and presentation schedule. It's important to allow time for food and networking, and break up the talks so that guests are not sat on plenary seating for too long, and have time to use the bathroom. Also, if the conferencing event is during the working day, people may need to come and go throughout the event, so creating a lot of breaks will allow people to sneak in and out as they please, which will avoid disruption.

A good speech length is 15-25 minutes, but you should always allow time for overrunning or technical glitches.

You can use the following show run of a half-day conferencing and networking event as a template:

  • 2:00pm - 2:30pm - Guest arrival (teas and coffees)
  • 2:30pm - 3:00pm - Presentation 1
  • 3:00pm - 3:30pm - Presentation 2
  • 3:30pm - 4:00pm - Afternoon Tea (canapes and cocktails)
  • 4:00pm - 4:30pm - Presentation 3
  • 4:30pm - 5:00pm - Presentation 4
  • 5:00pm - 6:00pm - Food & Networking (buffet and drinks)

Be sure to have the day's agenda clearly listed on signage around the venue for all guests to see. You may also choose to create programs that detail the day's agenda and give an overview of the presentations. A great way to create conversation and encourage successful networking is to also give the guests a pen and a place to write down any questions they may come up with during the presentations.

Your program should also feature a feedback form (whether on paper or a URL for an online form) so that you can gauge guest satisfaction and have a measure of event success, which you can activate the next time you host an event.

4. Venue

A successful event requires the right venue. Venue research should be one of the first things you do when planning your event as the best event spaces often get booked up months in advance. Be sure to visit the venues before you book, and remember to consider not only the number of guests you hope to have there (factoring in both attendances drop off and walk-ins) but also the room you'll need for a stage or presentation area, lighting, AV, catering, styling, etc.

You may consider styling, florals and decals to really transform the venue space and bring the event to life. This is a great opportunity to push your branding, if that is the intention of your event, or to simply create a certain aesthetic and photogenic space.

It's also wise to carefully consider the location of the venue, and whether or not it is easy to get to/is close to major public transport links. If you know that most of your attendees are located in a particular area of town, it's best for ease and convenience to host your event in that same area. It will mean more people will likely attend.

5. Catering

Catering is another important element to consider in the planning stages of hosting your event. If you're asking guests to attend, you should offer them refreshments. The extent of the refreshments on offer is then down to your budget at the statement you wish to make.

For a daytime event, you should provide coffee, tea, soft drinks and water at the very least. It is advised to have small bites on offers, such as pastries, cakes and fruit if the event is in the morning, or if the event is around lunchtime or afternoon, it's a good idea to provide different sandwich options (remembering to cater for dietary requirements with gluten-free and vegan options).

Catering is also another opportunity to push your branding. Depending on your budget, you could work closely with a catering company to create dishes that incorporate your businesses colours and identity.


Putting on an event is a chance to be creative and, most importantly, to put your best foot forward. If you consider all of the above, your event will be engaging, exciting, and will stand your business in good stead for the future.

Good luck!

Guest Author

Helen Cartwright

Helen Cartwright is a passionate blogger, who excels in the Digital Marketing and Technology niche. When not wired in marketing strategies she ghost-writes for a variety of authors who have their work published on leading online media channels such as The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com.