Fourteen Quick Tips To Make Your Conference Outstanding


1. Mail your brochure early, 14-18 weeks before the program.


2. Use oversize nametags, so everyone can read them from a distance. Make sure nametags are secured so that wind or gravity does not remove them.


3. Do something splashy, but relevant.

--give participants one of the keynote speaker's books

--have a picnic on the garage roof

--give participants a free drink coupon

--schedule an aerobics session, fun run, or dance

--have unusual hors d'oeuvres with eye and taste appeal

--give everyone a t-shirt or hat containing the conference logo


4. If no banquet is planned, organize dinner groups at area restaurants. First-timers and people traveling alone especially appreciate this.


5. Take advantage of the meeting area's unique food, recreation, and historical sites. For example, plan a trip to a local brewery, winery, organic farm, or tour some historical landmark. Get a local winery to donate wine for dinner.


6. If a banquet is scheduled for your group, eat that meal a month before the program. If it isn't good, you have time to change the menu.


7. If you have a stiff handout binder, print your college or your association's name on the spine. It will sit on office shelves advertising your group for years to come.


8. Use identifying signs on your registration table and in breakout rooms. Banners and simple printed signs mounted on walls; doors or easels help move crowds quickly and make people feel special.


9. Have your after-dinner speaker talk before the reception and dinner in a general session. He or she will be grateful, as will the listeners who may have had a long trip, a big dinner and several drinks.


10. Make sure registration forms accompany all promotional mailings and advertisements.


11. Have a brief training session for your registration staff before the event. If you have moderators, panels, or session chair, also schedule separate meetings with them. Let each know what is expected of him/her.


12. Pack a box of supplies for the unexpected. Include receipt books, stapler, phone book, scotch tape, extra name tags, band-aids, blank transparencies, and credit card slips. Ask the hotel meeting planner for bud vases, telephone, etc.


13. Remember walkie-talkies, pagers, cell phones, or some other means for communicating with others on the conference or meeting team.


14. Think of one special thing that attendees will remember.

        One conference I attended had an old fashioned hoedown square dance one evening at a nearby farm with a barbecue and various wonderful refreshments. It was most enjoyable.

        At a conference I helped organize at Syracuse University several years ago, a couple of committee members hung a huge sign out the window of the conference building (on a hill at the top of the campus) such that when people were walking up the street towards it from the hotel or driving up the street to a parking lot they could see that sign. I had people years afterwards remark on remembering that sign.

        At another conference in Oklahoma, organizers provided transportation to the memorial for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. I will never forget it.

        At a conference I attended in the Netherlands, organizers had everyone participate in a dinner on a large boat that traveled down a canal. It was quite an experience.



Created January 1, 2009

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