Category Archives: Conference On-Site Management

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management, Meeting room set Up and Audio Visual Set Up

Meeting Room & AV Set Up

You should have already decided how each meeting room is to be set up according to requirements for the meeting. This was outlined in a previous tip – Liaison with the Venue and Conference Room Set Up. Meeting rooms can be set up as theatre, cabaret or classroom for a presentation, hollow square or U shape for discussions, or boardroom for committees or small discussion meetings.

Important things to consider on-site:

  • Allocate staff to look after specific meeting rooms, do a walk-around with staff before the event begins so that they know where rooms are situated. Ensure that they have been given access keys if the rooms are lockable.
  • Whilst doing the walk-around decide on what signage is required to inform the delegates both of the name of the room and the name of the meeting or session. Consider directional signage if delegates have to move around between sessions.
  • Be aware of which entrance or exit for the room is to be used by the delegates. This is important both for traffic flow and so that any latecomers will not disrupt the meeting or the speaker’s flow. The entrance and exit is normally at the back of the room away from the top table or screen.
  • You will already have decided if name badge checks or barcode reading will need to be done at the entrance to the meeting room.
  • Allocate staff to check room set up before each day starts. They should check that the layout is correct and that water, pens, paper, name cards etc. are laid out according to the running order. AV should be in place and working.
  • With each meeting room know the following:

o   Access times

o   Sessions times

o   Times of coffee and lunch breaks, when room can be cleared and replenished by venue staff

o   Room set up

o   AV requirements

o   Who is responsible for the room and their contact number

  • During set up be aware of any health and safety hazard. Ensure there are no cables that delegates could trip over and that fire exits are kept clear of obstruction.
  • Whoever is responsible for the room should know how all equipment works, i.e. air conditioning, heating control, light phasing, how to darken the rooms with blinds.
  • Make sure that the venue has followed the written set up instructions like number of chairs to a table as requested, speaker table at front of room, extra tables for brochures or handouts. Ensure that flipcharts, pens, and white boards are where they should be.
  • The person responsible for the room should already have gone through the AV requirements, either with the venue if they are supplying it or with the privately hired supplier. They should make sure all the required equipment is present and have extra supplies of consumables like batteries to hand in case they are needed.
  • Check the visibility of the stage and speaker or podium as viewed from various seats. Some rooms may require LCD screens positioned around the room so that everyone can see the presentation and speaker. Other rooms may have pillars or be an awkward shape – make sure all delegates can get a good view of what is going on.
  • It is essential to have IT or AV technicians in the room or on-site depending how complicated the technical and AV set up is.
  • The AV production company will have already have done a site visit and will have quoted for the equipment they believe is required for your conference or meeting. Considerations will include size and height of stage, how many screens and their size for the room area, the number of speaker positions, top table and podium requirements, and whether additional lighting is required. Remember if using lapel microphones that you may need to have extra available if there is more than one speaker for a session.
  • If you are using a production company for a larger meeting the producer and caller should already be aware of the programme and have all the timings set and equipment required to ensure the meeting runs smoothly.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

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Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management Extra Staff & Hostesses

Hostesses and extra staff

For a large conference – You will probably require extra staff to assist with duties such as:

o   Room hostess to check  and scan badges of attendees entering pre-booked sessions.

o   Directional hostesses, if you have a large auditorium with key note speakers you often only have a limited time to seat everyone. You will need to have teams of staff directing delegates where to sit, getting them to fill blocks of seating from the front to the back, and directing delegates to move into the middle of rows.

o   Directional hostesses can also be used in an award ceremony to direct winners onto the stage.

o   If there is a Q&A session at the end of a presentation the hostess can be responsible for passing the handheld microphone to the person asking the questions.

o   Additional staff might be needed to: assist in moving directional signage each day, assisting on registration, manning information desks, and to be used as a runner, if there is limited walkie-talkie and internal mobile phone usage. You may also need extra staff to check meeting room set up or A/V set up, to provide VIP assistance, to act as speaker VIP lounge hostess, to check on restaurant food set up, and to assist the movement of delegates from one area to another.

  • Always run through the duties and responsibilities of all staff involved on-site with them and have regular team meetings to go through the process during event so every one knows what is expected of them. Make sure you have a suitable meal break rota so that there are enough staff on duty when required. Regularly communicate with your staff – sort out any issues before they become real problems. Remind staff to be welcoming and helpful to the delegates.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Conference and Seminar Tips: On-Site Management – Delegate Packs

Delegation Information

Depending on the client objectives you may be required to organise delegate packs in folders, bags, and files or however they are requested.

Important things to consider

  • Before going on-site you must agree with the client what information is to be in the pack or given to the attendee during the conference and in what order they would like this information to be accessed.
  • Make sure you have enough staff for the job and have allocated enough time. It can take quite a long time to fulfill and this will depend on how many packs and people are available to put the contents together
  • Typical information you may wish to consider for a delegate’s pack includes:
    • Welcome letter from the sponsor, association or company
    • Programme of events
    • Amendments to the programme
    • Conference at a glance sheet
    • Exhibitors list of companies and products and exhibition plan of stands
    • Attendee list: sometimes this is alphabetical by surname, company or country
    • Speaker biographies
    • Handouts for conference sessions
    • Any specific sponsor or company information, promotions, product details etc.
    • Pens
    • Note pads
    • Partner booking form for tours
    • Extra meeting schedule
    • Invitation to reception, social events, and tickets
    • Feedback and evaluation forms
    • Gifts
    • Map of the city or area, underground maps and other location information
    • Relevant tourist information on the city, area etc.
  • Before arrival at the conference all material for the delegate packs should have been put into boxes. Clearly label and mark each box with the content so that you know where items are when you start putting the packs together.
  • At the conference have a list of contents and the order they are to be inserted.
  • Have enough staff to assist in the preparation of the packs — students are often available to assist. Make sure that all concerned are given clear instructions about what they need to do.
  • If you have quite a few people preparing make sure they have sufficient work space for their various duties. Suggest that a large meeting table is made available as this can be used for putting material together. A line of tables is useful for collating the material.
  • Once packs are prepared make sure that they are stored in an easily reached area by the delegate registration desks.
  • Check if delegates need to sign additional sheets at registration such as confirmation of attendance at a seminar or other documents that may be required such as permission to photograph, non-disclosure documents etc.

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management – Delegates Registration Desk

Delegate Registration area

For a large conference – If delegates need to register on site you will typically need one member of staff per 50 expected guests as it is important to reduce queuing time on the first day. Allow for some extra staff to be unassigned and available to answer any questions.

  • Always run through the registration process with all the staff involved on-site and have regular team meeting to go through the process during the set up and when live so every one knows what is expected of them. Regularly communicate with your staff – sort out any issues before they become a real problem. Remind staff to be welcoming and helpful to the delegates.
  • Make sure that you are in communication with staff who are co-ordinating the transport logistics. If any large groups are arriving by coach make sure there are enough staff on duty. As first impressions are so important it is always best to be prepared to ensure the registration run smoothly.
  • Make sure that you have registration desks divided alphabetically and clearly signed so that delegates can sort themselves before arriving at the desk.
  • Put out roped divides if expecting large numbers of people at one time.
  • Before the event you should have a list of attendees sorted in alphabetical and maybe company order. Delegate badges should be checked and sorted in surname alphabetical order. Lay out the badges facing the conference staff. The bags or any documentation for the delegates should be accessible so they can be easily given to the delegates. Note the names of any delegates you need to give special instructions to or collect information from, such as speakers, VIPS etc.
  • Depending on the size or type of conference you may have a separate area for registering VIP, speakers, exhibition vendors etc. Some conference programmes require that the badges to be of different colours so that specific attendees can quickly be recognised.
  • Have a separate area to deal with misspelt or missing badges so that those waiting to register are not held up, make sure you have a badge maker on site.
  • With large groups try and open the reception at least an hour before the conference starts. Have an area open for networking where coffee and tea is being served – this is often in the exhibition area adjoining the conference.
  • Some conferences open with a pre conference reception in the evening to allow for delegates to register the night before. This can be of benefit by reducing the numbers of delegates registering on the first day.
  • Some conferences may use pre-registration badges with bar codes so that delegates can walk through a defined entrance to conference. Make sure that adequate personnel are on hand to swipe badges and to direct delegates to an area where they can collect their delegate bags.
  • Make sure you keep a list of those who have not arrived in case you need to find out why they have not attended after the event.
  • If the conference is running over several days there may not be so many people to register after the first day. In this case you can make the registration area smaller after the first day depending on the number of delegates still to register.

For a smaller conference –

  • You may be able to have just one or two trestle tables covered with cloth for the registration area. The principal of delegate flow will be the same as above. It is useful to use the venue wall as a back wall and have a table against this for delegate bags or other material to be given out.
  • If you are sharing a venue with other companies use corporate branding, such as a logo or conference name, on a popup banner to indicate where the company conference registration area is. Remember to have good directional signs.

During all the registration process you need to keep the hotel or venue informed of the running order of the programme. They will need to know the main conference staff contacts with their specific duties.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Conference and Seminar Tips: On-site Management – Requirements of a Conference Office

Depending on the size of conference you may have a back office specially built and adjoining the registration desk. For smaller conferences you may have a room at the venue specifically hired to be the conference office.

Important things to consider

  • Size of area is dependent on how many staff will be using the office and for what purpose e.g. if it is a small event with just two staff you should have an office with 2 desks and chairs, communication facilities, PC and network connections, printing and photocopying facilities. Optional trestle tables may be used for storage. It is important to keep the area clean and clear of clutter.
  • If you have quite a few people using the conference office make sure they have sufficient work space for their related duties. Suggest that a large meeting table is made available as this can be used for putting material together as well as an area to put and eat food.
  • Remember to have plenty of waste bins as well as a place for coats.
  • Do not allow other staff to use the office as a dumping ground for their bags and coats. Instead direct them to the cloak room.
  • If you are having an office built be aware of noise created by people in the office. Make sure the office is not too noisy whilst working.
  • The wall outside the registration area can be used for branding.
  • If there is the possibility of delegates being able to view the interior of the office from a higher level in the venue make sure you have a gauze or temporary roof over the area.
  • Use racking for storage if required.
  •  Make sure you can lock the conference office.