A day in the life of…a Professional Conference Organiser

School Led Conference - 15th October 2014 -304Event days always start early. Today the core team are on site for a respectable 6am, joining the AV company team that have been setting up since 5am. Everyone gets to work. Everyone is focused. Time always flies on the morning of an event and there are a lot of small details to be seen to.

We all have our own responsibilities; setting up the registration desk and registration management system, tuning the position of the exhibitor tables in the market place, checking the break out rooms are set up and laid out correctly, running through the catering arrangements one final time with the venue manager, putting up signage and loading the final speaker presentations.

At 7am our casual event staff arrive and are given a quick show around the venue. They then have a recap of the registration procedure and how to use the barcode scanners, plus guidance on the different questions and scenarios they may have to contend with for this specific event.

It is always wise to eat when you can as you never know when you will next get chance to pause and refuel! We tuck into brews and pastries and admire the main room. The stage, big screens, lighting and branding are looking great.

There is a feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air. The hard work and planning finally comes together today and this is our chance to enjoy and shine!

School Led Conference - 15th October 2014 -11The social media team set up next to the power supply and wired internet we have supplied for them. The market place is growing and the photographer and videographer wave to me from across the room.

We do the final sound checks and rehearse some of the key changeovers. I get a radio message to let me know that the keynote speakers are starting to arrive and so when they reach me I brief them and introduce them to each other and the chair. One of the speakers has made some last minute changes to their presentation so I drop in and save the new version and check through it with them. The sound engineer mics up the morning speakers and assures them that the levels are fully muted until it is their turn to take to the stage. I check that the chair has a copy of my briefing notes and run through the evacuation procedure again.

Shortly after we get a message to standby, the first attendees are onsite and have arrived early to avoid the traffic. The venue already have the cloakroom staff and refreshments in place so we are all ready to welcome them.

The registration desk keep me informed in terms of the number of delegates checking in, which rises steadily and then shoots up abruptly 20 minutes before the conference start time. 350 people and counting…

The freshly baked flapjack is going down a treat! We start to encourage people to take their seats and to fill up the seats from the front of the room. I discretely give the client, speakers and AV crew a 10 minute warning and check everyone is happy and calm.

School Led Conference - 15th October 2014 -346The intro music plays and the chair takes to the stage. We are underway! I set the countdown timer running to help everyone presenting to keep to their allocated time and watch the audience to see their reaction to each of the speakers. One speaker in particular gives a particularly powerful speech, moving the audience to tears and to laughter during his presentation and leaving the room feeling inspired. I have so much respect for accomplished, skilled speakers, such as we have seen today.

We move into the refreshment break and there is a wonderful buzz of conversations and networking in the room. I catch some of the praise for the speakers and event so far on the Twitter wall as I whisk the speakers away for some photographs and media interviews.

We all take our allocated positions to help direct delegates onto their workshop sessions. When everyone is settled and the presentations are underway Helen starts collating some of the pictures, key speaker quotes and Tweets into a visual summary which will be shown during the close of the conference. We also compare notes with other members of the team to check everything is going smoothly and any adjustments we need to make.

We give the workshop hosts their 10 minute countdown to the end of their session and get in place to direct delegates onto their next presentations.

I breathe a sigh of relief as one of the afternoon keynote speakers and the final panel member arrives – phew, everyone is now on site as anticipated. Lunch looks and smells great as we check everything is ready and in place ahead of the scheduled workshop finish time.

The day seems to pass in no time at all and before we know it the chair is closing the day and the client is coming over to thank us profusely for delivering a seamless conference. All the hard work and meticulous attention to detail has once again paid off!

Almost 12 hours after we arrived at the venue the core team has de-rigged and packed up our vehicles. Some of us hurry onto the restaurant to meet up with the client and working group for a celebratory meal, others hurry home. All of us feel proud of what we have achieved (and look forward to sitting down)!

I love my job and wouldn’t change it for the world!


Becki AES HeadshotGuest post from Becki Cross, MD of Events Northern Ltd.

Events Northern Ltd – conference and event organisers working nationally across the UK.

Follow Events Northern on Twitter @eventsnorthern or read their blog at www.eventandconference.co.uk

Photo credit: Andy Whitehead Photography Limited

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