Event Management

Conference To-Don’ts

Skift Take


This is a guest post written by Jill Stone. She has been with HelmsBriscoe for over 10 years, and in the meeting planning industry for over 20 years. Her dedication, powerful negotiating skills and top rate service have earned her an impressive list of devoted clients. She has placed at the top 5% of the HelmsBriscoe family year after year and consistently achieves President Club status. Submit your guest post here.


Meeting planners are all about lists. Our lists actually have lists. Keeping all the plans, facts, figures, who is doing what, where and when, requires an extremely organized way of being.

We make To-Do Lists that are much more closely related to plans for building rockets than mere numbers listed down a page.

Conference avoid

Along with the To-Do’s, there are also some To-Don’ts. There are things that we just need to stop, if you have not already done so, doing right now. So, here goes!

To-Don’t hire the speaker that is over the top with inspiration and motivation; think cheesy music, “If I can do it, you can do it too” type phrases.

Today’s speaker should ignite, innovate and spark! Think TED Talk and you are on the right track. Go fresh and concise with a Pecha Kucha.

2) To-Don’t forget the need to charge and connect. Your attendees are hauling around a tablet, mobile phone, laptop and more. They need to stay connected with their world.

Do not disappoint them; make sure to include a charging station at your event! All about sustainability? Some solar companies, like Microgrid Solar, offer solar charging vans for events. Don’t even get me started on not providing wi-fi!

3) To-Don’t forget where you are. Bring in the local flavor of the area! If you, for example, are in New Orleans, make sure you provide some jazz, Mardi Gras, chicory coffee and beignets.

Find out what local talent is available and showcase it at your event. There are amazing people and offerings everywhere!

4) To-Don’t offer give-aways that will just end up in a drawer or, worse, the trash. Make sure your swag fits your theme and event. No one needs another stress ball. Everybody likes cool t-shirts, tumblers, and accessories for their electronic devices.

5) To-Don’t forget to provide networking opportunities. A networking event filled with one stage presentation after another is not a networking event. Make sure you provide a time and place for your attendees to meet each other and share resources.

Even better, have staff on hand to make introductions between attendees. There should never be anyone off alone in a corner, make sure a staff member is there to bring him or her into the mix.

6) To-Don’t give out reams of paper of information, and please stay away from binders; especially binders meant to be brought to future conferences (they will not remember, they will misplace the binders, it’s inevitable).

Go digital wherever possible. Before printing anything, say this mantra, “There’s an app for that.” Then go find that app, oh-so-resourceful meeting planner.

In Conclusion

This list of To-Don’ts can go right along side your many and numerous other lists of To-Do’s. Happy day to-do’s and to-don’ts to you meeting planners!

Photo by Vicki & Chuck Rogers