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Top 7 Strategies To Plan A Creative Conference That Creates Happy Returns
By Karen Carnabucci
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You've named the theme of the conference. You've found the meeting place. You've listed your special conference, meeting or gathering on your Web site and produced a classy brochure. And now you are on your way to putting together a great event. As you plan, you will want to make sure that creativity will also be a guest at your conference. Here's how:
- Focus on the goals that you want to produce for your gathering. Is the conference devoted to education, networking, brainstorming, marketing or building membership -- or perhaps a combination?
- Everyone loves gifts. Offer small gifts at registration, at meals or as door prizes. Develop a network of sponsors that may be able to provide gifts, samples or other giveaway items if your budget is tight. Many large companies will provide samples (such as office supplies, bottles of water) free upon request.
- Taking a cue from family reunions and begin the conference with questions about commonalities. Invite people to stand up for a moment if they fit certain identified characteristics -- who traveled the most miles, who traveled the least miles, who's from a foreign country. Do it with a sense of fun, and others may spontaneously want to add their own questions ("Who is single?") These are safe and fun ways to find out who's in the group and set the stage for further conversation.
- Make time for special interest groups: people who enjoy morning exercise, people who play music instruments, people who enjoy movies. These activities -- or others -- also allow people to identify common interests and who may wish to spend relaxing time together after conference hours.
- Arrange meal planning. If your conference does not have assigned seats for meals or attendees must dine on their own, identify a way that solo attendees and/or newcomers, can find companions for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Thank the volunteers. Such thanks may include a small gift, funny or specially printed "dollars" that can be redeemed at the conference hotel's gift shop or your organization's silent auction, party or other special event, if you have one. Extra thanks, too, with a funny postcard or phone call at their home or business with they return.
- Build interest and loyalty for the next year's conference with special displays, films, presentations, songs, tourist giveaways, quizzes, raffles -- all of which promise the fun and a flavor of the conference city.
Karen Carnabucci is a creativity consultant, psychotherapist and coach in Racine, Wis. See http://www.companionsinhealing.com for more about Karen, her traiing and coaching scheule, her directory of resources for holistic health professionals and her free e-newsletter, Whole Person Practice.
Article Submitted On: November 14, 2004