December 20, 2017 Lisa Turner

Conference Planning 101: How to Start a Conference for Female Leaders

I just attended an incredible women’s conference.  As an event planner, I’m typically rushing around behind the scenes. This time was different. I attended as a guest, and it felt amazing!

This particular conference is for female leaders in the medical industry; however, the content applies to all women. It’s educational, motivational and overall a great place to be on a Saturday. The organization clearly took the correct steps during conference planning to develop a comprehensive, memorable event.

After leaving a successful, female-led event, many thought leaders feel motivated to start their own conference. If the thought of hosting a live event geared to women is appealing, consider these tactics when starting your conference planning.

Give attendees a compelling reason to attend. If you want to attract an audience, give them a compelling reason to join the conference. Start with a challenge that you and like-minded women face. The goal is to develop a conference that offers solutions to the identified challenge.  How can you help others that may be tackling the same obstacles, whether professionally or personally, that you and your circles of friends and co-workers face?

Collaborate with a network of supportive women.  Once you’ve identified the key challenges and solutions your conference will address, it’s time to prove others will be interested in your topic(s). Are other women dealing with these same issues and looking for feedback, support or advice?  To find out, start an email group of 10 or more women that may or may not be dealing with the same challenge.  Start emailing about the challenge as you experience it and discover if others face the same dilemma.

If collaboration via text is helpful to your circle of women, then you can expand to a Facebook Page to grow your network by inviting others to join.  This will create buzz, engagement, and information sharing. As your network grows, you’ll be surprised how many unexpected topics come up as conversations grow. Keep track of relevant topics to address during your future conference.

Is your social media growing, are women feeling the love and support? Once you get the buzz going, you’ve found out the struggle is REAL for a lot of women. Now it’s time to focus on specific information gathered from the group. When you begin to track which challenges get the most engagement from your followers, you can plan social media and blog posts around engaging topics that resonate with your audience.

As the momentum builds and you feel the time is right (timing is tricky for some, it’s a few months and for others, it can be years), you can begin planning a live event in the form of a conference.

Start with a small and simple event plan. It’s best to start small. Too many make the mistake of bringing in big, expensive speakers just to fill seats. Instead, it’s best to create a simple event plan that relies on local support.

In my experience, vendors and sponsors can make a good event, a great event. Even if your first conference is small, it’s important to tie-in sponsors that connect with your cause. Reach out to potential sponsors that have a direct tie to your attendees and can provide support monetarily or with giveaway items.

Look to local venues and speakers for your first conference to create a more familiar, personalized environment for attendees. Book local speakers that have experience and do not require speaking or travel fees. An outgoing speaker that shares her journey is memorable and authentic, just what every great conference needs.

Provide useful follow-up content. Make the most out of your fabulous speakers by turning their talents into follow-up content. Many attendees vigorously take notes, while others sit back and soak it all in. Either route, make sure they can turn to your social media accounts and blog content for conference highlights. You can do this by sharing keynote presentations, video clips, photography and more.

Expert tip: Post-conference, thank attendees for their support and ask for feedback via an online survey distributed via email and Facebook. Survey findings will highlight attendees’ key takeaways.

 Prepare for next year! After you’ve gathered post-conference feedback from attendees, vendors, sponsors, and speakers…it’s time to grow your conference bigger and better for next year. The attendees that found the conference valuable will turn into your advocates. Encourage them to invite their professional and personal circles to the “don’t miss event” of the year.

Turner Events is an event management and consulting firm focused on increasing your ROI. Whether you’re planning a conference, summit, educational seminar or convention, our full-service staff brings the experience you need to plan and manage a successful event.

 Questions? Give us a call at 402-926-1199 or complete our online contact form.

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