I have been organising conferences for 12 years. In that time I have never organised a truly great conference. But am I alone? I have run over 200 conferences and I can truthfully say that not one of them has been a truly great conference. Is it just me? Has anyone ever organised a great conference? Have you?
Sure, we’ve all organised to conferences which we have enjoyed, met a good contact and perhaps even learned something! But how many times, when the chips were down, would our delegates say it was ‘great’ with the same enthusiasm they would praise and rave about a gig or a football match? And as conference organisers that response is what we have to strive for.
Is organising a work related conference that is enjoyed as much as a stadium rock gig an unachievable dream? A wild fantasy of a deluded died in the wool organiser? I don’t think so.
If we were able to design conferences from scratch, incorporating what we now know about how people learn, how they act at events, and with an eye on ROI, they would not appear like they do today. If we solely concentrated on improving delegates professional and personal abilities and made sure that the delegates interacted and enjoyed the day, the one day event wouldn’t bare any resemblance to what we think of a conference today. We have to make our conferences great. Who’s with me? And how do we do it?
William Thomson has been managing events since 1996. The first couple of events he ran where roaring successes. The third one was a disaster, it made page three of The Sun! But talk about learning from your experiences. Since then as an event organiser William has managed conferences, seminars and exhibitions for Spearhead Exhibitions (later sold to Reed Exhibitions), The National Housing Federation, The British Bankers Association, The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and The Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Thomson can be contacted via www.gallusevents.co.uk