Conference confessions: What you won’t learn in a masterclass

Nov 29, 2019, Author: Carly Ritz

There’s plenty material out there to support and help you when it comes to planning your next big product launch or host your company’s annual sales conference. But we got the gossip from some of Jozi’s experts in event planning on the things you just won’t find in the textbook. 

Attendance drop off 

Never count your guests before they arrive. Life is unpredictable and things happen every day … traffic, potholes and sick kids. And, of course, those things are bound to happen on the day that you’re hosting a big event. That’s Murphy for you! Whether people contract their own unique strain of influenza on the day, find themselves stuck with a last minute deadline or just in desperate in need of a duvet day, it’s fair to say that a minimum of 10% of your expected guests won’t show up to your event … and that has absolutely nothing to do with your planning ability. Cross, toss and move on!  

What’s the solve? Over subscribe slightly as a general rule – this usually helps balance out the numbers.  

The speaker from hell 

Ah … the keynote speaker who wants to make you run for your life. The one who wants fresh fruit at room temperature, still water (not sparkling) and has a gluten intolerance just for fun. Consider this your very own baptism of fire. No one who makes it in the long run doesn’t do the hard yards first and truth is once you’ve survived your first prima donna, the rest will seem like child’s play. The truth is that this is more about their ego than anything else, so don’t sweat it too much.  

What’s the solve? Roll with it. When it comes to picking your battles, a difficult speaker is a flash in the pan compared to some of the other fires you may need to extinguish one day in your career.  

You can’t please ’em all 

Consider this a free life lesson too. No matter how perfectly you plan and execute your event or conference, no matter the attention to detail and the checklists (and the hours of dry runs), someone will be unhappy. Whether it’s the CEO who arrived late and couldn’t find a parking close enough to the venue, the person who ignored the dietary requirements list and now doesn’t have a meal or the person who just woke up in a bad mood, make peace with this fact now and move on.   

What’s the solve? At the end of the day, you need to make the person paying the bill happy. If you manage that, consider it a job well done! 

If there’s only one thing you remember … 

When hosting a big group of people, the most important stations to check up on and replenish are the snacks tables and the ablution facilities. Both will end up annihilated by guests and both can make or break the mood of the crowd and/or lead to a social media nightmare.  

What’s the solve? When hosting a large crowd, never cut costs when it comes to food. Also, have a team on hand to check clean the restroom’s half hourly 

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