Why Have International Conferences Become so Popular, and How to Get the Most Out of Them?
There are chances that you have attended at least one conference in your lifetime. Bonus points if it was an international conference – in today’s economy, everything is global. From education, business, to the way we consume our information.
Going to an international conference helps you to see in person how diverse and intercultural our business niche may actually be.
Both large enterprises and small startups alike hire people from different cultural backgrounds who speak many different languages. A long time ago, international conferences weren’t as common as they are now, and companies concentrated on local markets – that’s almost impossible to do today.
We live in a globalized world, and we have to learn from others – going to a huge international conference is considered a badge of honor for many, and very valuable experience indeed.
There are many benefits to both attending and running an international conference. If you attend as a participant, you’ll meet specialists and experts that you would never have a chance to see in real life – all in one place. Some might be from Asia or Africa, some from Europe, Australia or South America, and some might be from a completely different state – but what’s important, is that they’re all together and ready to interact with you. IT’s rare to have this kind of in-person expertise all in one place. It’s a bit like a business camp – you’ll leave with new friends and connections.
If you’re an organizer you can be sure that everyone will know who you are – your organization skills are under the microscope, and so are your networking abilities. This can make or break a company, so you better spend a lot of time planning and making sure that nothing is forgotten. Hosting an event is difficult, especially if it involves hosting international experts and guests from your business niche. You have to plan for education, entertainment, and easy mingling.
When you take into account the participants’ high and various expectations, possible technical problems, and other mishappenings, organizing a conference becomes a much more complicated task, then it once was. Especially now, when in-person conferences have become a rarity. Planning for a safe comeback can be challenging.
Not to mention technical aspects – having all the essential equipment at such an event is crucial. You never know when an additional microphone will come in handy, or when an extra projector will be of use. Replacement laptops, fans, water bottles, sanitation equipment, masks, gloves, and goodie bags you can give away to guests – it is best to expect the unexpected and be prepared for every circumstance.
Here is what a professional conference organizer should always be mindful of:
Small and medium-sized conferences
First and foremost, the mother tongues of people at an international conference will vary. A presentation done by a Norwegian will be nothing but a bunch of colorful slides and a mumble for a Japanese person who does not speak Norwegian.
When organizing a congress, your goal is for the people to understand each other, so the first thing you should focus on is the conference interpreting services.
No one requires you to speak seven languages at once, but it’s best to establish a formal language of the conference, or at least list what language each lecture is going to be presented in, so no one is disappointed later.
Most of the translating companies offer services tailored specially for your event. This is especially helpful if you want to provide transcripts in many languages later on, or publish them online for attendees.
The conference room necessities
Every conference room needs to be equipped with certain basics that your guests will come to expect. It’s best to create a checklist and meticulously check it off before the start of each lecture. This may include the musts, like all your video and projection equipment, but also coffee, tea, hand sanitizer, masks, bottled water, and even branded notebooks and pens for easy and convenient note-taking.
It is best to create a check-list of essentials and tick off the things while doing the before-event-check-up. Some necessary elements are a whiteboard with a pen, a projector, an A/V equipment, the right cables, and the cords.
Large scale conferences
Should the conference be a large scale project, consider the venue a crucial thing to start with when organizing it. A meeting intended for people from around the world should be easily accessible in terms of transportation and geolocation. If you can choose from the variety of locations, pick a place that would be reachable for most of the international guests within an eight-hour direct flight maximum.
With most attendees coming from far away, you need to find a place that can be easily reached from nearby hotels – or even better – has it’s own hotel and is an all-inclusive venue.
Bear in mind that an attractive location, like a European capital or a paradise island, can be an additional bargaining chip for international guests to come. Who wouldn’t want to mix work with a holiday, right?
If you have several locations in mind, it’s best to let your attending employees take a vote on their destination of choice.
With a lot of participants and speakers, it’s easy to get confused. You want to avoid that at any cost. For everything to work well in delivering the primary goal, create a well-thought plan. Time management is crucial when it comes to planning a vacation trip, let alone an international conference. The schedule should mix all the predicted activities, from the lectures to networking possibilities, in a balanced and organized way.
It should also be easy to follow the schedule, and there should be clear maps of all the locations – including directions, how to get there, what transportation to take, and any other tips and suggestions. Don’t make your guests do the legwork. Public transit, Uber information (is it available in your area?), scooter, or bike rentals – these are all important things to mention to a visiting guest.
There is probably nothing worse for an international conference than disorganization. As it gathers people from different countries, the expectations tend to be bigger, and the management bar is set much higher than with a local conference.
However, it is possible to create an event satisfying for both the attendees and the organizers. It requires you to anticipate potential problems well in advance and do everything to prevent them. The essentials mentioned above will help you stay calm that everything will run smoothly.