PPR Strategies


[Guest Blog] Behind the scenes of planning a multi-day conference

Today’s blog is written by our Communications Specialist, Ellen Buchanan.

This year, Sandy and I assisted the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association with their biennial conference. While I’m not new to working events, multi-day conferences are a different story than the 8-hour events I’m used to working.

We began planning this conference with their committee members last fall and saw the three-day event come together in early October in the beautiful mountains of Cumberland. 

When planning a conference or any event, oftentimes people don’t know where to begin.

Start with the basic who, what, when, where and why:

  • Who are you trying to attract?
  • What is the conference theme?
  • When is the conference and how long will it be?
  • Where will the conference be?
  • Why should people attend?

Once these big-picture items are decided on, the next step is to fine-tune the smaller details. From deciding on the menus to researching mobile conference apps to planning the 2019 APA Awards, we played a role in each phase of the planning. 

What we found beneficial to the planning process was having a checklist of items, a timeline of when decisions needed to be made, biweekly conference calls with the committee members, and designated subcommittees in charge of various aspects of the conference. Being able to break down larger parts of the planning process and assign tasks to committee members helped to break up the to-do list and make it manageable. 

When it came time for the conference itself, we were prepared to tackle every question and comment that came our way. As a team, Sandy, myself and our awesome student volunteers managed conference registration, tech issues, the awards ceremony and more so committee members and attendees could enjoy the conference.

Getting out of the day-to-day grind of the office and working to execute an event firsthand is always a nice change of pace, and it was a treat to see this event come to fruition.

Need help planning your upcoming conference, meeting or event? Reach out to PPR Strategies!

Talk with you later,

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