How to Organise a Convention

Three Methods:Before the MeetingDuring the meetingAfter the Meeting

Make sure of your planning and your event will be successful. Gather good people around you who have the same vision as you. Nominate one person (probably yourself) as overall coordinator to make definitive decisions where necessary; this person must have people management skills. This guide assumes enough funds are in place for an event and so does not offer fund raising ideas or the like, although these could be dealt with elsewhere.

Method 1
Before the Meeting

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    Estimate the number of people who will come to the convention. Remember that size matters. Depending on the nature of your convention, you may or may not be able to fully control the size of your convention. However, it will be essential to estimate some numbers, as you will need to book arrangements based on estimated attendance.
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    Plan it out in writing. With so much to do and so many details to manage, it’s far too easy for important steps to fall through the cracks. Plan your work and work your plan. This will also help you keep track of delegating and maintain timely follow ups.
    • List the number of people required to assist the running of your event in regard to things like camera operators, lighting operators, sound controllers, ushers, security, ticket booth assistants, car park assistants, caterers etc. It is a good idea to seek out from your organisation any doctors or nurses who may be prepared to answer a medical call should the need arise.
    • Create a budget. This step will need to be completed rather early, in order to ascertain sponsorship needs and set a ticket price for attendees.
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    Book the venue. This may be the single most important decision you make regarding the planning of your convention. Choose a location that suits your estimated group size, with clean, well-appointed facilities, and the ability to provide food service to your group in a fresh and timely manner. Consider whether or not your participants will want to come early or stay late, which may mean you’ll want to assess nearby attractions.
    • Save the date. Once the venue is booked, it’s never too early to encourage potential attendees to save the date – even if it’s a year in advance.
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    Create a committee. Nobody said you had to plan the entire convention on your own, did they? Enlist help, create a committee, and surround yourself with helpful, hardworking, committed enthusiasts. Plus, it pays to run key ideas across a small focus group, to avoid any major oversights.
    • Make sure the overall coordinator has no other task for the event than coordination. The overall coordinator should chair all planning meetings prior to the event and work with the managerial assistants to bring the event together in the planning stage to ensure successful outcomes are attained.
    • Appoint a suitable person to act as Master of Ceremonies. In many ways this is the most important task of such an event; if the Master of Ceremonies fails the whole programme can be in jeopardy.
    • Appoint someone to deal with anything out of left field that might crop up during the event. This person may require assistants and should be free to appoint these as needed.
    • Appoint either one person or perhaps a married couple to act as convention hosts for your convention speakers and presenters. This host person or host couple will be commissioned to look after guests from the time they step off the plane on arrival until they go back through the airport after the event is all over. These hosts must be people of high calibre as they represent your event in the eyes of the guests coming.
    • Split your event into workable categories (video, sound, catering, security etc) and nominate one person (managerial assistant) to take charge of each category.
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    Book your audiovisuals early. Audiovisual support is one of those things that most people won’t notice unless it’s missing or malfunctioning. Effective audiovisual support should be seamlessly integrated with the main stage.
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    Remember that people get hungry; so they eat. Conversely they need to visit the bathroom from time to time. Make sure your program is structured so that attendees have time to eat their snacks and/or meals during breaks and visit the bathroom also; should that be necessary.
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    Check with the venue owners about your responsibilities in regard to local council by-laws etc. Don't get caught out, ask. Once you know what is required make sure everything is covered in your planning. It would be a good idea to put someone in charge of this area of the event.
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    Make sure you have insurance cover for the event.
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    Formulate a plan to cater for eventualities resulting from unexpected rain, hail or snow if you decide on a venue that may be compromised by inclement weather.

Method 2
During the meeting

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    Stay hydrated. It may sound like a simple thing, but conventions require long hours and lot of time on the go – make sure you and your staff stay hydrated and fed, so that you have the energy and stamina to keep going all day (and then wake up to do it all again tomorrow).
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    Communicate. You can’t put out all the fires and handle everything on your own. Stay in constant communication with your staff, solicit help, make sure everyone is on task and ask for assistance as the need arises. The stronger your communication and leadership skills during your event, the smoother the outcome.
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    Collect information. In addition to registrations, you’ll want to collect suggestions for improvement, contact information for representatives who may wish to sponsor or present at your next convention, and participant feedback surveys. This information is essential in helping you improve your event each time, so be sure to take time after the event to analyze the data.
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    Put on your game face. Smile, be cordial and welcoming, and remind your staff to do the same. When it comes to using your staff effectively, play to everyone’s strengths. Put your most outgoing, knowledgeable staff and committee members out on the floor to help direct traffic and answer questions. Friendly, organized folks would be ideal at the registration desk and check-in. Hard-working individuals who are more on the shy side would best serve as runners and back-of-the-house personnel.

Method 3
After the Meeting

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    Make some notes. Now that your convention has ended, you can relax, right? Well, not exactly. The smarter approach would be to make some notes to assist you (or the next lucky individual who will take this responsibility over from you) in planning your next convention. Make notes about what worked, what didn’t work, things you liked and didn’t like about the venue, and what recommendations you have for improving next year’s event. Have a debriefing meeting with your committee members – they will have additional input for you, as well as from conversations they had in the field during the event.
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    Enter data (if applicable). Hopefully, you were able to collect participant information electronically, which eliminates the need for data entry. If not, it pays to get forms entered sooner rather than later after your event – this way, you are building your contact list for next event’s “save the date” mailing.
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    Analyze the data. Review, summarize and analyze the responses from your participant surveys. Pay attention to what worked, what wasn’t as well received, and what suggestions were made by participants for improving the process and experience. Include this information with your notes from the previous step. Additionally, review your budget – did you meet it? What funds were spent that could be avoided or omitted going forward? Where would funds have been better spent (for example, your participant surveys may show that additional signage was needed to avoid confusion and manage traffic flow – knowing this, you can add funds to next year’s signage budget).
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    Say “thank you.” After your event, send out your thank you notes or letters to those who assisted in some key way. This would include committee members, volunteers, staff, sponsors, speakers, vendors who donated funds or items (flowers, decorations, beverages, publicity, etc.) to the event. Never underestimate the power of a thank you – when you take the time to express sincere gratitude, these same individuals and vendors will be even more receptive when you approach them for assistance next year.
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    Make decisions for next time. You can begin making some key decisions about the next event (venue, location, speakers, even the date and duration) based on the feedback received and the overall experience of this event.


  • Make sure you have enough user products like soap, detergent, hand towels, toilet paper, first aid kit(s) etc.


  • Be aware that you are responsible for the venue for the duration of your event. Once everything is done and dusted your attendees will leave and you will be left to do the audit walk with the venue owners all by yourself. Make sure you ask people to treat the venue with respect, this request will assist you to have a clean venue to hand back to the owners.

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Categories: Event and Party Planning