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How to Plan a Successful Science Conference

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Blog

If you have been asked to organise a conference, you are probably feeling both excited and overwhelmed. Conferences are an excellent way for scientists and professionals in other fields to learn about new research, share their findings and connect with others in their area.

However, organising a conference can be a lot of work. That is why we have put together this guide to help make the process easier for you. Follow these guidelines, and you will increase the chances that your conference will be a success!

What makes a science conference successful?

Science conferences are important because they provide a forum for researchers to share their findings with others in their field. They also allow scientists to learn about new research and connect with others in their area.

A successful science conference will provide multiple opportunities for learning and networking and inspire attendees in their careers.

how to plan a successful science conference

How to organise a science conference

  1. Define the purpose of the conference
  2. Choose a date and location
  3. Select a conference venue
  4. Develop a budget for the conference
  5. Create a marketing plan
  6. Develop an agenda
  7. Book speakers and panellists
  8. Arrange travel and accommodation for attendees

1. Define the purpose of the conference

Before planning your science conference, defining the event’s purpose is essential. What are you hoping to accomplish by hosting a conference? What topics do you want to cover?  Once you clearly understand the purpose of the conference, you can begin to develop a plan.

2. Choose a date and location

The next step is to choose a date and location for your conference.  Consider accessibility, amenities, and cost when selecting a site. Keep in mind that the date and location will need to be approved by your chosen venue.

Scientists, doctors and researchers receive many invitations to conferences, so you need to make your event more appealing than the competition. When planning a scientific conference that attracts international delegates, choosing a location easily accessible from around the world is vital.

If the city offers additional cultural and historical interest, this will also help your event to stand out.

Deciding to attend a science conference is rarely a last-minute decision. Give attendees plenty of time by planning your meeting, preferably at least twelve months ahead.

It is well worth doing a little market research to discover whether participants prefer a conference held during the working week or over a long weekend.  Also, whether full or half-day talks are most practical for local attendees, who may wish to fit their speech or poster presentation around their regular working schedule.

3. Select a conference venue

Once you have chosen a date and location for your conference, selecting a venue is next. When selecting a venue, it is crucial to consider factors such as capacity, amenities, and cost. Additionally, you will need to ensure that the venue is available on the date and time that you have selected for your event.

Look out for a venue with excellent local transport links and one experienced in hosting the scientific community. You will need conference rooms of various sizes, rooms for interactive education and plenty of space for a poster presentation.

Choose your conference venue wisely

4. Develop a budget for the science conference

After you have selected a venue for your conference, the next step is to develop a budget. When developing your budget, it is important to consider the costs associated with hosting an event. Such as marketing, food and beverage, audio/visual equipment, and more.

Once you have developed a budget, you can begin to look for funding, ticket pricing or other ways to offset some of the costs associated with hosting your conference.

5. Create a marketing plan

Once you have developed a budget for your meeting, the next step is to create a marketing plan. When creating your marketing plan, it is essential to consider your target audience and what marketing methods will most effectively reach them.

Additionally, you will need a website to promote your event. Your website can encourage visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or follow your social accounts for updates on the event.

Related: 4 ways to promote your association event

6. Develop an agenda

After creating a marketing plan for your conference, developing a science conference programme is next. When designing an agenda, it is vital to consider the needs of your attendees and what topics you want to cover during the event. Additionally, you will need to determine how long each session will last and when breaks will occur throughout the day.

  • It is a good idea to have fewer, more extended talks rather than more numerous, shorter ones. This allows time for plenty of ground to be covered without rushing.
  • Allow for plenty of breaks. Networking is one of the main benefits of a scientific conference, and coffee breaks are the perfect opportunity to learn about others’ ideas and research. Consider having coffee stands in the poster presentation area to promote networking opportunities.
  • Longer breaks are also invaluable and optional cultural activities. A tour of the city, a theatre trip, or a sports event will provide a refreshing break from concentration on scientific matters.
  • Use a call for papers to get ideas for your content. As a bonus, this will also give you a list of highly engaged attendees to invite to your event.

7. Book speakers and panellists

The quality of the speakers and researchers and the material they present will help your conference be remembered as a success. For your recruited and invited talks, aim for a balance of genders and include young researchers and senior scientists who are leaders in their field.

You can offer invited speakers guidelines for the material they should cover in their talk. It is also a good idea to have some backup speakers on standby in case of a cancellation.

Consider bringing in local speakers whenever possible, as you will not have to pay costly travel and hotel expenses. Plus, there will be no worries about cancellations due to missed flights.

The science meetings sector is highly competitive, and it often takes more work for scientists to take time off from their teaching or research programmes. It would help if you prioritised high-quality learning opportunities to make your event more tempting.

Ensure that your attendees know the topics the conference will cover, who will be giving the talks and what other learning opportunities will be available.

Related: Quick Guide to Creating Engaging Conference Learning Experiences

These could include:

  • Videos of the conference talks – these could be offered to delegates free of charge or sold to help cover costs
  • Podcasts on the latest research topics
  • Virtual reality packages of scientific learning presented at the conference
  • Including a well-planned Social Media communication strategy

Book conference speakers

8. Arrange travel and accommodation for attendees

If your attendees are coming from out of town, it is important to make travel arrangements in advance so they can arrive on time for your event.  Consider factors such as flights, hotels, and rental cars when making travel arrangements.

Attendees should also be provided with information on local attractions and restaurants.

Read more: 10 Actionable steps for organising a science conference

A successful conference is the result of careful planning and attention to detail. Following the tips in this blog post can increase your chances of hosting a successful science conference that achieves your desired outcomes.

However, conference planning can be daunting, so Congrex offers comprehensive services to help you plan and execute a successful event. Visit our services page to learn more about how we can help you organise a conference that meets your goals and exceeds your expectations.

Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and strategic consultancy.

Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73 ‘000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.

If you wish to receive additional information about Congrex Switzerland, please feel free to contact us.

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