10 tips for successful conference planning and promotion

The best time to start planning and promoting your next event is the first two weeks after the current event is over. We just wrapped up the ConvergeSouth conference in Greensboro. Now is the perfect time to lay the foundation for next year’s event.

I know. I know. It’s easy to want a break after the tireless planning and promotion it takes for a team or individual to put on a successful event. Believe me, the last thing our BOD and conference chairs want to think about is ConvergeSouth 2013. In reality, the two weeks after the event is prime time for getting momentum and ensuring the success of the next event.

10 Things To Do Post Mortem (in no particular order)

1. Survey Attendees

Within a week after the event (three days if you can), you should survey attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers. Get more feedback than you need. This information will be the report card for your event. How’d you do on speakers, sessions, location, venue, food, volunteers, technology, attendees and numerous other pieces of the event puzzle? Use this data to see if you accomplished your goals, identify what the real value was and what areas can be improved to make the next event better.

2. Photo Album

Get all the pictures from the event into a photo album. Upload it to your preferred photo-sharing sites. Tag as many people as you can identify. Ask attendees to upload their pics to the album. The goal here is to remind people how much fun they had and let others see what they missed. Again, the sooner you can get these pics posted the better.

3. Slideshare

Get slide-decks of the presentations uploaded to Slideshare. If you don’t have your speaker’s presentations, ask for them. At the very least have presenters tag the presentations with your event or hashtag. You’ll be glad you did and so will your attendees.

4. Testimonials

Ask people to share their experiences. Nothing sells events like the testimonials of others. You will use these later for your next event’s promotion and to woo sponsors.

5. Sponsor Email

Send your sponsors an email thanking them again. Also, let them know how successful the event was and share a few testimonials. This is also an opportunity to plant the seed or get a commitment for sponsoring the next event. Nothing will give more of a boost than pre-financing.

6. Organizer and Volunteer Meetup

If possible, hold a meetup social for anyone who helped put on the event. Spend a little time getting feedback from them but use the majority of the time to thank them and socialize. Chances are the event put pressure on relationships and this is an opportunity to let everyone be relaxed and enjoy each other’s company.

7. Initial Plan for what’s next

While it is fresh on the organizer’s minds and with feedback in hand, start planning the broad strokes for the next event. Establish theme options, choose possible locations (if you are going to stay or look for another venue), throw dates around, and see if there are any decisions you can make now that will save time later.

8. Lock Down Date and Place for Next Event

It is a good idea to nail down the “when and where” as soon as possible. Places get booked months in advance and this hurdle is usually one of the biggest. Solve it early if possible.

9. Thank You’s

Don’t forget to send a thank you letter to anyone and everyone that deserves one. This builds goodwill. It’s the right thing to do, and not to mention, good etiquette.

10. Set Kick Off Meeting

Let organizers know when you are getting together to start planning the next event. Putting this on the calendar allows you to put to bed the past event and allows everyone to have a season of rest.

Many people wait too long to get their next event going.

This is especially true if the event is held once a year. I hope these 10 tips will help you keep your events going strong.

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