What do the organizers of the conference care about most? They care about success and the proper organization of the conference that will attract many participants, in particular satisfied participants. How to encourage people to participate in the conference? How to make participants satisfied? These are the questions every organizer of the event seeks answers for. First of all, the subject matter of the conference, appropriate speakers, topics and the high level of these elements. Last but not least, is the conference organization itself. In this article we will focus on this part. This post starts the series of advices how to better organize the conference.
As you know, organization of the conference is a long and complicated process and it often requires many years of experience or rather many events. Certainly every event is organized in a slightly different way, however there are some constant elements.
As I mentioned before, I would like to focus on the organizing part that is why I skip the subject matter related issues, however, this is somehow connected with what I would like to say at the outset, namely the feedback from the participants.
How do we know what the participants expect from the conference? The best solution would be to ask them. It seems easy, right? But hard to implement. Why? For different reasons, e.g. not everyone wants to share such information. Some people are ashamed, others don’t know how to express themselves not to offend anyone, and the rest just tell untruths. Some others finally are not able to give such information right away because they have to think it through. The first idea which comes to mind when it comes to knowing the participants’ expectations is the survey. We leave the survey in a visible place and during the conference ask participants to fill it in. The problem is that there in not always sufficient time to think about the answers. Is is obvious that we don’t ask one general open question because we will receive few information. Of course it is worth to ask such a question at the end of the conference, however, to get a better view on what went wrong and what went right it is recommended to suggest questions and answers. The second issue is that every participant wants to gain the most from the conference, above all, sessions, networking or integration events. There is no time to pore over the survey or fill it in on an ongoing basis and remember to deliver it to the organizer. This is exactly what mobile application does the best. I’ll tell you about it on the example of our service MConference i.e. the mobile application for conferences/events. One of the functionalities of the application is Feedback. It is the function that allows the user to send anonymously a personal opinion on any subject to the organizer of the event. A user at any time during the conference may send a short or longer opinion, even while standing in a queue for a cup of coffee. It may be even a short message such as: “The air conditioner is cooling too much.” Such information will allow the organizer respond to the problem during the conference. There is no need to wait until the next edition of the event to improve such a prosaic matter. Other examples: “There was not enough coffee stands, I didn’t manage to get coffee during the coffee break” or “Poor acoustic system, a lot of reverberation, hardly heard anything”. A short information allows the organizer to solve the problem right away so that the participants may enjoy the event’s great atmosphere and forget about small failings. There is a significant difference between poor acoustic during one session that will be quickly forgotten and problems with sound for 3 days during 120 sessions. It will stay long in the memory of the participants and may discourage them from the future participation.
The second tool used for the organizer-participant communication is the survey. This solution helps to receive the opinion about the individual elements of the conference organization i.e. subject matter, venue, menu, lightning and sound system, general organization, parking, integration events etc. The organizer may prepare such surveys in advance and inform the participants about their availability. The surveys may be filled in at the most opportune time for the participants. The organizer may use PushNotification tool to remind the participant about filling in the surveys. The replies will be forthcoming with time and on their basis the organizer may draw conclusions.
Collecting feedback from the participants, in our view, is one of the most crucial elements of the organization of events. We think that the participants of the conference know the best what the conference should look like, how to please them and encourage for the future participation. MConference is a great tool for collecting such information. We leave you its analysis and possibility to draw conclusions.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning, that feedback from the participants is very important while organizing the first conference. However, if we already have a group of people interested in participating the conference we may find out in advance, by means of e.g. newsletter or survey, what would be the most interesting for them to appropriately select the subject matter of the conference.