Flock recently teamed up with Margaret Mouton – EQS Event Management founder – for UNISA’s 60th academic conference. The five-day digital event hosted hundreds of delegates each day, who joined the event from around the world.
We sat down with Margaret to garner her advice and top tips for managing a successful online conference.
How to plan a massive conference:
Planning is everything
How do you even begin to approach planning for such a large-scale event? Margaret starts with the following steps:
- Clarify your event goals and your event value proposition.
- Create an event-planning timeline.
- Assign team members to key logistics tasks.
Breaking down the task this way makes the overall process easier to manage, and feel much less overwhelming.
Thereafter, you create your event plan. “The best events are organised to the last little detail, so it’s worth putting together an event plan,” says Margaret. “This should have a checklist of all the things that need to be done.”
Manage the speakers
As event planners, you’ll know that managing local speakers for physical events can be difficult enough. How does Margaret manage hundreds of speakers in different locations?
“Speakers and event managers have a tough relationship,” explains Margaret. “Speakers are scrambling to ready their bios, headshots, and presentation drafts, while event managers are pulling out their hair trying to get their many speakers to confirm information and meet deadlines. Between constant email exchanges and frantic phone calls, it’s easy to forget that speakers and event staff share the same goal of creating a great event!”
So the first thing she does is to make sure her team is prepared. “It’s important that everyone on your team understands their role in the speaker management process,” says Margaret. “Making sure your internal process runs smoothly will prevent delays that compress the demands n speakers further.”
Next, she suggests automating as much as possible. “Sending reminders is a necessary part of the speaker management process – as much as you hope your speakers will remember their own deadlines, sometimes they need a little nudge! Rather than cluttering your to-do list, use systems that prepared to handle late content while maintaining the relationship with the speaker,” advises Margaret.
Have a contingency plan
Speaking of things not going according to plan, Margaret suggests creating a contingency plan that covers any possible incident, from technical failures to natural disasters. The plan also details the roles of your contingency plan team, so that everyone is clear on what they need to take action on in the event of a problem.
You should have backups for your team as well. “All your team members are susceptible to health issues, family emergencies, or anything else that might prevent them from reporting on time and carrying out their work,” explains Margaret. “Such situations are usually nobody’s fault, but can cause problematic situations if not dealt with properly.” Therefore, you should always have too many team members who are adequately trained to replace missing colleagues, in the event of a last-minute emergency.
Margaret’s tips show us just how big of a job it is to manage large conferences. Flock Eventing Platform is the all-in-one tool for event planners, and greatly reduces the stress on your shoulders. Book a demonstration of our platform to see how we can help you plan your next event.