A good conference is a once-in-a-lifetime learning and networking opportunity for presenters, attendees and organizers alike. But there are a lot of moving parts, and some conferences still cling to the standards and best practices of yesteryear.
For example, a common hallmark of conferences used to be tote bags, which, by the end of the session, was stuffed to the brim with pounds of paper and brochures. Similarly, check-in might be a clunky process complete with printed lists tacked to clipboards.
You get the picture.
Luckily, with a little help from the Internet and some game-changing online tools, it’s entirely possible to organize a smoother, greener conference. And not a moment too soon. According to Eventbrite, the average conference attendee takes home up to 10 pounds of paper in the forms of handouts from vendors.
As an organizer, you want your conference to go off without a hitch. Here are four hacks for organizing a hassle-free conference that cuts down on the clutter and the sheer amount of paper that will end up in a landfill afterward.
Use Electronic Registration
The last thing you want is to kick off your event with a long line of people piling up at the check-in station. If your staffers or volunteers have to search through a novel’s worth of last names every time a new person shows up, it’s going to eat up valuable time. Plus, at the end of the conference you’ll be left with a huge stack of pen-scribbled papers.
Consider thinking ahead and using a registration app like Check In Easy to make the process up to 20 times faster. Tablets or mobile devices are the new binders of the conference world.
Optimize the Event Website for Mobile
Guests will have lots of questions about sessions, scheduling and event locations. While the go-to resource for these burning inquiries used to be a thick conference booklet, now it’s as simple as connecting with guests through the smartphone in their hand.
But this only works if your event website is optimized for mobile use. This takes the guesswork out of announcing cancellations, schedule shifts and urgent updates because your team can post them on the website and people will be in the habit of checking.
Streamline Icebreakers and Team Building
Although conferences themselves are fleeting, sometimes the bonds we build and the people we meet last for a lifetime (or at least a few days). Some speakers and session leaders choose to start their time slot with team building activities to get participants warmed up and comfortable talking to new people.
But it’s not time to pass out the papers, poster board, markers and other supplies just yet. Electronic icebreaker questions accomplish the same goal but with an interactive twist—as people use their mobile phones or tablets to respond, the embedded PowerPoint slide updates right in front of their eyes. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser without all the hassle of asking people to get up and drag their chairs over to a new location.
Use Online Evaluation Forms
In order to know how your conference went—and how to tweak it for next year—you need to know exactly what people thought. But dozens, hundreds or thousands of paper evaluations add up. Not only are they only useful once, but there’s great potential for people to lose their papers, forget to turn them in or not even bother to fill them out.
Sending attendees an electronic link with a brief survey is a more effective way to get honest feedback. It’s less intrusive and you’ll be able to keep track of the results without shuffling papers.
Luckily, greening your conference and eliminating the hassle go hand in hand. Keep these four tips in mind as you start to organize your next professional event. You’ll be making it easier on yourself and Mother Earth if you do.