On Wednesday, Nonprofit Gold explored some of the things not to do when planning and running a nonprofit conference. The following are five things which can enhance your conference.
Invite the Participants to Be Presenters
If your conference is a three day conference, what better place to find experts and people wanting to share their knowledge than some of the participants. By having your presenters also be participants, there are many benefits including an increase in the number of participants in the weekend, making the presenters feel “real and tangible,” allowing professionals a forum to share their knowledge and many more.
The last three conferences I attended, participants were invited to be presenters (ask them a couple of months in advance) and I had the chance to sit with the presenters in other sessions and learn next to them. These presenters aren’t seen as coming in and just presenting and leaving but really wanting to be a part of the conference. Many of these presenters also do not expect to get paid and want to continue giving back to the professional community.
Plan Networking Time
Th most successful conferences allow time for the professionals to get to know each other personally and build in network time for people to find out about other organizations. Conferences are a great place to network for an organization looking for a qualified employee and for job seekers to find a new place of employment. Rather than taking away from planned sessions or having people not go to sessions to network, as a conference planner adding in a couple of times to network will benefit the whole conference.
If your conference is a three day event and starts on a Friday afternoon, have snacks for the participants. As some conferences draw people from all over the country be aware many of them may be coming directly from the airport and will want something to tide them over for the first session. If you have an open plenary and people are complaining of hunger, they will choose to eat over the first session.
Food in general is a great way for people to socialize and mingle and can serve as a great mixer during the conference. By including food, the participants also feel there is an added benefit to coming to the conference or learning opportunity.
Use Social Media to Continue the Conversations
The power of social media is helping continue and strengthen the conversations at nonprofit conferences around the world. In real time, participants are writing notes, blogs, tweets and Facebook messages and posting it around the world. If someone couldn’t attend your conference but you have established a Twitter hashtag (a way for people to follow the conference), people can still be a part of the conversations happening at the conference. By establishing these early and promoting your social media for the conference, your organization and conference show you are with the current technology trends. Social media is also a way which you can brand your conference and should be used on all marketing materials for the conference.
Be Aware Problems Will Happen
While you can plan for everything to go right, inevitably there will be items which go wrong. Whether you test every projector and they work fine or if you ordered enough food for 150 people but have 180 people, things will happen. Be aware and calm when these issues arise and be able to move forward without showing the participants that things aren’t going as planned. If you go in and are aware that things might happen, you will be better prepared if things really do happen.
If you are looking for help planning an upcoming conference or looking for a way to get volunteers to help with the conference, contact Nonprofit Gold today.