Organizing conferences is undoubtedly an interesting business, in particular in recent years. However, preparing such an event is definitely not easy. It requires a huge amount of effort and preparation which can take several months prior to the event itself. We asked Aneta Drábková, Director of the Critical Thinking Conference, what organizing a conference is like.
Hello Aneta, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello Roman, I am responsible for marketing & events in GrowJOB events. Thus, I organize conferences, solve their design, presenters, contact potential partners, and provide a kind of general supervision over the events.
How many conferences do you organize per year?
So far, it has been 5-7 events, but we aim at 10 conferences in 2018.
How big are the conferences?
Mostly we have either all-day or evening conferences. The number of participants ranges from 150 to 600 people, depending always on the conference topic. For example, our biggest conference was LEADERSHIP Praha in Rudolfinum, the smallest one was WO.men conference which is only intended for women, obviously. Typically we have some 6-8 speakers at each event.
How much time is necessary to plan a conference?
Ideally half a year in advance. This applies primarily in Prague. Halls are booked for a long time ahead and if the event is organized at the last minute, there is a risk that the hall will not be available. The same situation occurs with the speakers. Many of them have full diaries six months in advance, so they need to be invited in time. However, to be sincere, we do not always manage to plan ahead so much, thus it is also possible to organize an event in 3 months, but then forget about going home from work at 5 pm. :)
In terms of figures. Could you tell me how much does a conference cost? What is for example the price of renting a hall?
Every event is different. It depends on production demands. We can talk about the cost of CZK 300 000, but a conference budget can reach up to one million as well. Renting halls is also an item that varies from 50 000 to 500 000. Concerning the speakers, they usually do it free of charge. The presentation itself serves for their personal brand. We do the conferences primarily to spread awareness about the topic. We try to express our values and change our society this way. The profitability of events is not our primary goal and many times we only have compensated the costs.
Can you tell us how this conference planning works?
The first and key thing is the topic. It must be chosen appropriately and answer the questions that people are currently addressing. The selection of speakers is also essential. We are looking for personalities who are really in the field, use science-based approach, and are good presenters. We then cooperate with them on the presentation itself, so that it is as enriching for the audience as possible. Afterwards, we select the space, plan all-day scenarios, and do the fine-tuning of production issues.
Do you use some interesting tools, technologies, and applications for the preparation and the course itself?
We could not get along without Trello. This is the best tool for project management. And then also good old Google apps. And, of course, eventee, it must not be forgotten :)
Can you summarize how a conferences and the collection of feedback worked without mobile apps?
I would rather not even recall that. We used to develop google forms where people rated each speaker. When we sent it to 300 people, we received 10 responses. It did not work at all, people did not have time to fill it in.
Can you specify what added value does Eventee mobile app have for you?
The added value is priceless. Primarily, it serves as an agenda, we do not need to print 500 A5 agendas, saving forests, and people have it available all the time. Another extremely valuable feature is communication. Through the news, we keep communicating with the participants, we inform them that the registration is open, that the conference is about to start, a coffee break is coming soon and they evaluate the speakers – hereby I am getting to the most important thing and that is feedback. Immediately after the presentations we have feedback about the presenters. Participants evaluate the presentations and comment. In figures, we used to receive 10 feedback responses from 300 people, nowadays we get feedback from almost a half of them! This is an amazing improvement. And the participants evaluate the application very positively and appreciate the preparation of such a thing for them.
Can you imagine a feature that you could use at a conference but in is not (yet) available in Eventee?
What I am thinking about right now involves questions. An opportunity for the audience members to ask the speakers questions via the application.
Do you have any tips for the readers, what to be careful about in organizing a conference and how to make it easier?
You definitely need to go through each minute of the conference several times one after the other. Every minor detail that is subdued can affect the entire event. Forgotten scissors in the office can spoil so many things. That is why it is better to note down every trifle :)
Thank you for the interview, have a nice day Aneta.
Thank you very much too and I look forward to another event with your support :)