What is at the forefront of your mind on conference day?
“The main thing is you want it to be successful. You could focus on all the things that could go wrong, but if you’ve done the amount of planning that we do, you’ve already thought through all of those things. So the top priority is ensuring the conference is the best it possibly can be for everyone.”
What does a typical day look like organising a conference?
“It sounds cliché, but every single day is genuinely so different. I try to plan as far in advance as possible and then break this down so that every day I have a to-do list of things that need to be done. If you don’t break it down, I think it could get quite overwhelming thinking about every single element all at once. It can be a juggling act, but if you treat it methodically and get those actions ticked off, you’ll be more prepared for the things that crop up unexpectedly. And believe me, there will be things that come up out of the blue!”
What is the one thing that needs to be done when organising a conference that you think people would be surprised to hear?
“That planning for next year begins the moment the conference is over. Immediately following any conference, it’s so important to gather feedback and have an official debrief while the details are still fresh. After that, there is always something that can be done to prepare for the next conference.
“In terms of the specific elements, I’d say the logistics side of dealing with freight, access, build, health & safety…these are all things that are so important that might not immediately spring to mind for those just starting out organising conferences.
“My early experience of events was smaller networking events and dinner dances. The move into conferences could have been daunting, but the key principles were actually the same. It’s all about communication. Communication with the venue, your suppliers, your delegates, your sponsors, your exhibitors. As long as you clearly communicate, you can learn everything you need and, through practice, these things can become second nature.”
And now some quick fire questions. What is the best part of any conference?
“Getting good feedback.”
With the conferences being such long days, how do you prep for the day?
“I try to relax as much as possible the night before. I’ll answer any last minute emails for my own peace of mind and I’ll look back at everything that has been achieved so far.”
Required early morning beverage?
And a snack to go with it?
Some advice that has stayed with you?
“Try not to look too far ahead and if something is causing you a lot of worry, step back from it (even just for 5 minutes) and come back to it with a fresh perspective.”
And what advice would you give to others about working in events?
“You’ll learn a lot on the job. It’s going to be busy and you need to stay organised. The main thing you should keep at the front of your mind is communicating with people. If you can communicate well, you’ll do well.”
What is the best thing to do after a long day?
“A glass of wine is always a good start.”
What is the most challenging part of your job?
“Keeping a variety of clients happy. But it’s always worth it.”
And finally, what is your favourite thing about your job?
“Meeting people and the satisfaction you get from a job well done.”
If you have a conference or event you’d like Mearns & Gill to help with, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be delighted to hear from you.