6 Common Mistakes to Avoid at a Conference

Six Common Mistakes to avoid
Six Common Mistakes to avoid

  Six Common Mistakes that must be avoided at a Conference

I recently attended a Conference in Mumbai and the sole purpose of this was to understand the challenges one faces as an Organizer and how easily or with struggle, these can be solved or avoided. My writing isn’t about the conference; but about what I realized, as my third window of the brain opened. about how to make a conference world class by avoiding a few petite yet major mistakes. Anyways, continuing with the topic; we had to register for the Conference online and my first challenge began here. While the event category and prices were clearly stated on the website; the event description lacked content. Hence the very first mistake to be avoided is neglecting content.

1) Content: When we list an event online for registration, the content plays a critical part. Any prospect delegate will register for the event only after knowing what the event is about and to an extent –  the schedule of the event and the speakers (if decided already). Why would any delegate attend an event paying a hefty amount without getting a clear idea or knowing the purpose/ reason for the Conference? Many people will here argue that the name and a few google searches can display everything about the event.

I agree. But being a delegate, the very first impression of an event I will get is via the website or the online registration page. Thus, the content on the website, registration pages, and means of communication should be crystal clear, descriptive and shouldn’t at all leave the attendee/delegate clueless about the event.

2) E-mailer: What next? That’s exactly what the delegates wonder about post registration. Hence; an email instructing the delegates about what to do next and other important instructions about the conference is a must send. And this should be sent, without a fail. In fact, the earlier the better.

These were 2 things that need to be taken care of before the event. Well; proceeding to the D-day. I had a great warm arrival with well-marked boards guiding me to the registration desk even though I feel that placement of the registration desk is crucial and it should be placed before the conference venue/hall and not at another corner. Yet, this one is a bit negligible, a bit only.

The event organizer hired a team to take care of event registrations. Upon reaching the registration venue, I saw a line longer than the one outside ATMs following the recent demonetization. I wanted to investigate like the reason behind this, like Sherlock Holmes & it thus, brings me to speak about the third common mistake:

3) Coordination: I spoke to one of the team members at the registration desk who educated me that the reason behind this slow and steady movement in handing over the ID tags to delegates, was the sole mistake of organizer as s/he didn’t give proper briefing about the process to be followed for issuing the tags, in advance.

Another thing I recall while speaking about the tags is the issue with pouches and lanyards. Once the issue of turtle pace line got over, another issue that cropped up within half an hr was that of handing over the ID tags. Yes, there was a shortage of pouches and lanyards for ID tags. And, the response towards this was miserable. Most delegates were furious over this as ID tags mention name and company they are representing. Since one of the major reasons for attending a conference is networking; any delegate without the ID tag would miss this and this purpose will, of course, be a great loss to the delegate and vice-versa.

4) The quantity of Pouches & Lanyards: It is important to count and take a higher estimate of pouches and lanyards.

Tip: If there is a shortage of same and you are expecting them to arrive in an hour or so, please don’t ask the delegates to come back and take the same. Rather arrange for a volunteer who could go into the conference hall to hand over the pouches and lanyards to the delegates. After all, the convenience of the delegates matters the most.

I thankfully got mine before the shortage. In fact, I was impressed seeing a barcode on my tag. On asking the purpose of this barcode, I was told that this is for scanning the number of participants attending a session during the conference. Reminded me of the attendance system back in my school days but honestly, it is a great feature to be included, especially for the Organizer. Wondering why? Well for 2 reasons:

  • Attendance
  • Helping the organizer know which session had maximum or minimum attendance. Why? this helps the Organizer plan the sessions according to delegates interest, in future.

After 2 great educating sessions, when I went for the third session, my worry started taking over as to how will the organizer scan barcodes here. Well, this third session was being held in an open venue with three side entry while the organizer only had one bar code scanner.

5) Open venue Hassle for Scanning Barcodes: Understanding the trouble s/he is in, the organizer quickly arranged for a team member with scanner and laptop to take count of attendees, but this wasn’t enough. While the poor staff member(I literally pity her) dodged the lanes holding the laptop in one hand and barcode scanner in other; we too got disturbed as it diverted our focus from the speaker onto this staff. I feel they could have been smarter by using a mobile or another way of scanning than attaching a bulking laptop to the scanner. Also, it is important to take control of all entry points, which is a bit hassle-filled in open venues with people pouring in from all sides.

Alas! After all these issues, it was time to enjoy the sessions peacefully. I must admit the sessions were resourceful and they helped me learn a lot about how to overcome the major challenges I faced in relation to the topics. Once the session was over, I wanted to head back to my hotel but wasn’t sure on how to go ahead as my phone battery ditched me and I couldn’t book a cab or see the route from venue to my hotel. I then went to the registration desk for help.

And the 6th mistake was:

6) No information and unhelpful staff: The organizing committee staff at the desk was polite and spoke in a pleasing manner but the answers weren’t pleasing enough. They asked me to contact hotel for help. I asked them  “where do I go for the hotel reception?” and they replied, “we are clueless maam, they must be wearing badges and black coat”. Sounded strange to me.

While writing about it, it strikes my mind that even in the morning when another delegate waiting in the line in front of me queried about the availability of Cloakroom, s/he was told to contact hotel staff as once again the desk staff was clueless.

I feel that even if the staff at the desk doesn’t have information about the question or delegate query, they should be kind enough to help the delegate get an answer to their question. Rather than being clueless if the lovely lady cladded in the pink saree sitting behind the desk had made the effort to get up and escort me to the reception, it would have been an experience I would have remembered.

Don’t you agree too? Well, I am sure you too are now aware of the 6 common mistakes that can be easily avoided at a Conference and will keep a note of these while organizing your conference. What do you feel?

                      

Ankita Bhardwaj

A Journalism(H) graduate from KNC, Delhi University; Ankita loves to pen down her thoughts in form of blogs, Articles and quotes. She is an avid traveler who believes that "Life is Car, Steer it Properly and Safely."

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