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Tips on Planning a Successful Conference

A special event is a one-time event focused on a specific purpose such as a groundbreaking, grand opening or other significant occasion in the life of a particular organization. Special events may also be created for other targeted purposes such as jobs fair; awards banquet or logo contest. These one-time special events are different from “programs” offered on a continuing basis such as a lecture series, summer reading club or story hour. The following steps are proffered to help guide your event planning:

1. Develop strategies for success.

Make sure the purpose for the special event is important enough to merit the time and expense needed to properly stage, publicize and evaluate the event. Carefully match the type of event that is selected to the purpose that it serves. Do you want to reach out to new users or thank your supporters? Ensure that the staff of the organization fully supports the special event. Select a working committee with broad representation. Target groups that have a special stake in the event such as library users, sponsors, politicians, business leaders, senior citizens or parents. Start planning at least three months, and in many cases, a year ahead of time. Develop ways to evaluate the event’s success. Measurable event objectives may include attendance, the amount of money raised, and the number of library cards issued or increases in circulation. Talk to other Librarians who have successfully staged similar events.

2. Make a Checklist. A checklist provides a step-by-step guide to organizing and executing a special event.

3. Create a Budget: The objective is to provide event planners with a financial blueprint. The budget should be specific, realistic and should include revenue opportunities as well as expenses, printing, permits, insurance, speakers, food supplies, security

4. Consider Logistics: With many activities going on simultaneously, there are many details to be checked. Major areas to consider and plan for include: size of space or building used, setup, transportation and public services e.g. Police and fire dept.

5. Plan publicity: Promoting a special event takes creative thinking balanced with practicality. Are you trying to inform, educate, entertain,create awareness, or build a base support from a specific audience? maybe you want to facilitate a good community relations? Whatever your aim for planning the conference, you need to brainstorm all the available media including marques, schools, newsletters, Church announcements and cable and commercial stations. Make a detailed list with the names of whom to contact and when.

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