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7 Ways to Make Your Speakers Love You
by Osman Sheikh on

Conference Speakers

1) Show them Your Setup

Speakers have to prepare their presentations for viewing on your projectors. If their Powerpoint or Keynote presentation was created in a different resolution, it may be resized or harder to see. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, let potential speakers know what resolution their presentations will be shown in. You can put this on your call for proposals so that potential speakers know exactly how to prepare for their talk right when they submit their proposals. In case your call for proposals is opened before your venue and equipment are booked, you can ask speakers directly what resolution they prefer.

2) Avoid Tech Failures

If anything goes wrong while a speaker is presenting, it will not only reflect badly on your event, but also on the speaker. Some speakers are already stressed or nervous about their presentation, and a technical failure will only make this worse. Technical failures can be avoided almost all the time, and taking the time to test your setup will minimize technology related issues. Make sure you have extra cables and chargers in case a speaker’s computer isn’t compatible with what you currently have.

Keep this short list of common tech failures and fixes at conferences in mind when planning your next event.

Issue: Projector has a different resolution or aspect ratio than the presentation.
Prevention: Make sure speakers know the dimensions their presentation will be shown in.

Issue: Cables don’t fit speaker’s computer.
Prevention: Send out an email to speakers with information on the setup your conference has, including cables, chargers, projectors, and screens.

Issue: Speaker has computer errors and can’t open his presentation file.
Prevention: Ask speakers to send their presentations to you in advance, then store these in DropBox just in case.

3) Make it Personal

While larger conferences can give their speakers perks such as a chauffeur to and from the airport, smaller conferences can still go the extra mile and make their speakers happy while on a budget. Personal touches such as picking up an important speaker from the airport yourself, sending them handwritten thank you letters, or simply thanking them in person for a great talk can go a long way in making speakers happy. Most speakers present at multiple conferences each year; what can you do to make them remember your event?

4) Make them Famous

Everybody loves to be promoted and marketed. You can help out speakers by making it easy for attendees to find more information on speakers by having a detailed bio and contact info either on your conference website or on your schedule. Treat your speakers like your sponsors and put their faces on your website, social media profiles, and marketing graphics. Boost their business by promoting them.

5) Simplify the Submission Process

Making speakers jump through hoops just to submit a talk proposal is a sure way to earn their frustration. From making speakers print and snail mail their proposals to asking long and unnecessary questions, conference organizers make a lot of mistakes that turn speakers away. A simple and effortless submission process will increase the number of proposals you receive and save speakers time and frustration.

6) Throw a Speaker Dinner

Organizing a dinner for speakers before conferences is almost mandatory for conference organizers. Speaker dinners are a great way for speakers to meet each other and do some pre-conference networking. All speakers are naturally nervous before conferences, even professionals, and speaker dinners offer speakers a chance to talk to each other and share presentation tips and advice. Speakers have the opportunity to bounce ideas and themes off of each other. With speakers on the same page, the overall quality of your conference will increase.

7) Give them a Good Introduction

No one wants to be the guy who has to quiet down a loud audience. Before speakers go on stage and present, give them a good introduction by quieting the audience and giving a short overview of who the speaker is and what they will be talking about. This will help the attendees know what they’re in for and will give the speaker a nice starting point for their talk. Making speakers introduce themselves can take time away from the presentation and be a daunting task for a first time speaker.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Speaking at a Conference
by Heather Myklegard on

Speaking Mistake Cartoon

Congratulations! You have been asked to speak at a conference. That is a great accomplishment and an amazing opportunity to introduce yourself and make some new connections. Whether this is your first conference, or your tenth conference here are 5 mistakes you will want to avoid when speaking:

Not Rehearsing Your Speech

You may have given this speech a few times to a small group but never to a large group in an auditorium with a podium, microphone, and a huge light beaming at your eyes. Practice! Ask the conference planner if you can have access to the room in which you will be speaking, even if it is just for 30 minutes. A dry run can save you in the long run and can eliminate any unwanted surprises.

Forgetting to Do Your Homework

Who is hosting the conference? Who are the other speakers? Who is going to be in the audience? You may also be asked questions from the audience. Knowing who you are speaking to and what their background is will help you answer their questions with more accuracy. It will also show the audience that you took the time to learn more about their background, their interests, and their experiences.

Missing Network Opportunities

Don’t run to your room between sessions for a quick nap or jump on your laptop to avoid talking to people. You never know who you might meet in line at the coffee bar or just sitting in the lobby between sessions. Make sure to have plenty of business cards and/or flyers on you. If you have many friends at this conference, it is fine to sit with them from time to time, but try to branch out. Make a goal to make at least 2 new connections every day.

Showing up With a Bad Attitude

Ok, so you know you were not the first choice for speaking about your industry. Get over it. You are here, and it is time to make them thankful they picked you. Showing up with a bad attitude will come out in your presentation, in your body language, and in your face. So, whatever happened yesterday at work or however you truly feel about the conference, leave it at home. It is time to dazzle your audience with your knowledge and charm!

Reading From Your Slides

Slide shows are great for making points and showing pictures. They can also be used for embedding videos, showing graphs and polls, and for contact information, but try not to read from each slide directly. People are there to hear you speak and to listen to you share your wisdom and experience. They can read your slides later. Use the slides as reminders of key points you want to make but don’t be afraid to go off script. Involve your audience too. Asking your audience for insight before delving into a topic will help you gain perspective as to what the audience may already know.

These are just 5 mistakes you do not want to make as a speaker at a conference. Keep them in mind. Hopefully you are excited about this opportunity and looking forward to putting on a great speech. Be prepared, do your homework, and show up feeling your best, and you should be just fine!

Top 4 Ways to Promote Your Conference
by Osman Sheikh on

4 ways to promote your conference

Good promotion is a necessary part of planning a great conference. With so many conferences being held, you have to promote your conference well in order to attract attendees. People need to know about your conference in order to attend, and promotion ensures that people interested in your conference are exposed to it. Here are 4 great ways to promote your next conference.

Use Social Media

Promoting your conference using social media is a no-brainer. Social media allows you to communicate with people who would be interested in your conference with ease. Even if your conference is small and locally based, social media is a valuable tool. Twitter and Facebook allow you to share your location when posting. This will help you promote your conference locally.

In order to promote your conference with social media effectively, you need to optimize for sharing. That means ensuring that your ticket registration page and schedule can be shared easily. Your conference registration page should not be overly complicated and should have a good amount of information. Long and complicated registration pages hurt your ticket sales. If a potential attendee stumbles upon your ticket registration, you want them to know exactly what the conference is about.

Many conferences choose to use hashtags to promote their event. This is another great tool that you should be using. Hashtags not only help promote your conference but they help attendees network and share with each other even after the conference is over. Good conference hashtags are short and include the conference year. Remember, people only have 140 characters, and your hashtag should be only a small part of that.

Another new and exciting addition to the social media line up is Lanyrd, a social conference directory. Adding your conference to Lanyrd is absolutely necessary. The earlier you sign up, the better. With Lanyrd, potential attendees can discover your conference and other conferences relevant to their interests. People looking for conferences to attend can browse by topic and location.

Start Early

Start planning and promoting your conference as early as you can. This gives attendees more exposure to your conference and more time to prepare for it. When you start early, you can sell early bird tickets at a discount to encourage more registrations. Starting early also gives you more time to build a social media presence and plan the best conference possible.


Blogging is a great way to keep people updated on your conference. You should blog about your conference and about the industry. If you’re planning a conference on education, it is a good idea to share news on education technology and blog on how you’re planning your conference. Did a new speaker commit to your conference? Blog about it.

Having a blog is also valuable for social media. Every time your blog post is shared via Twitter or Facebook, your conference is promoted. Blogging can also help increase the search engine visibility of your conference. When someone searches for a conference on a specific topic, you want them to see your event website. This will help increase attendance at your event.

Leverage Your Sponsors

Most conference planners know that allowing companies to sponsor your event will give you a larger budget, but the promotional benefits of a sponsorship are often overlooked. When a company or organization sponsors you, their success is tied to your success, and they will do whatever they can to help promote your event. Most sponsors will actively promote your event on their social media pages. If one of your sponsors is not doing this, chances are they will gladly do so if you ask them to. The larger your event is, the more promotion your sponsors get.

How To Rock a Panel Discussion
by Heather Myklegard on

Speaker Panel

A lot of conferences will offer a session with a panel. A panel is typically a group of speakers who come to together to discuss a certain topic. A panel could be a group of professionals that all share the same expertise, or perhaps, each bring a unique talent to the table. Better yet, a panel can be made up of rivals or experts who have very different opinions and share opposing views. Sometimes, the more diverse you can make the panel, the more interesting it is for your audience. However, it could get messy. Here are several tips on how to rock a speaker panel at your next event:

Have a Good Moderator: The moderator can really make or break your panel discussion. You want someone who has moderated panels before. He needs to be well versed on the topic and know something about each panelist. A moderator needs to be a guide, not an entertainer. The audience is not there to hear the moderator. The moderator needs to be able to move the conversation along. The moderator must make sure that every panelist gets adequate time to speak. A good moderator should always stay neutral. The moderator is not there to be an expert or part of the panel. He is not there to show the audience how much knowledge he has. He is simply there to moderate. A moderator should be firm and direct, yet personable.

Set Your Stage: Many conferences set up their panels behind long conference tables with big thick table cloths. The moderator then looms over them, usually behind a podium. Sounds impersonal, doesn’t it? Instead of closing off your panel from the audience, invite them to sit in chairs close to the front of the stage. Make sure everyone has a microphone, and make sure that the moderator is close to the panelists but not so close as to confuse them with the panelists.

Involve Your Audience: Many times, panels can start off boring and then go from bad to worse. They may start out strong, and then, within 10 minutes, the audience is doodling or checking phones. Get the audience involved early. Poll the audience before the panelists even begin. Have members of the audience stand up if they have a Twitter account or have been on a panel before. Whatever the question may be, get the audience involved and interested. This will set the stage for the rest of the event. You want your audience to know it is are part of this discussion.

Size of Panel: The size of the panel is critical. Too small of a panel, and it may as well be a key note or solo presentation. Too large of a panel, and you could have utter chaos. The typical rule of thumb is between 5 and 6 panelists. Most likely someone will cancel last minute, so if you have at least 4 panelists, you are still safe and can have a productive and useful discussion.

Q and A: Always leave at least 15-20 minutes for a question and answer period. A good moderator will have an audience member ready with a question in case you have a quiet audience. The moderator could also have a few extra questions that he can ask the panel in case the audience isn’t volunteering. The moderator should also make sure that each panelist gets a chance to answer a question and that they don’t talk for too long.

Educate Your Panelists: Make sure you have talked to your panelists before the conference so they know what to expect as far as location and logistics. It is also wise to tell them what your expectations are as the conference planner. What do you hope the audience gains from the panel? Remind them of the other panelists who will be there and to limit their comments to 2-3 minutes. Also suggest that they leave some time in their schedule to stick around for a few minutes after the panel discussion in case any audience members would like to speak with them on a one-on-one basis.

As you can see, there is a lot of planning and logistics to keep in mind when it comes to putting on a panel discussion. However, if done well, it can be a very positive and educational event for all involved!

(photo courtesy of Digitas Photos)

How to Stay Motivated After the Conference Is Over
by Heather Myklegard on

Arms Up

Conferences are a big deal. After travel expenses, dining, and time spent away from the office, you finally get there. The event is one-four days of intense information. New contacts. New ideas. New solutions. You feel motivated and enthusiastic to get back to work and implement all of the new and exciting things you have learned. Your colleagues are excited. The keynote speaker has pumped you all up and you are on fire! What helps even more is the beautiful ocean views from your hotel window or the exciting city streets filled with new people, live music, and interesting and exotic food. Then the conference is over. You get back on the plane and you head back home. The buzz is now just a low drum. You hit a wall and are exhausted from your trip, and know that tomorrow you will be back in the office and back to the grind. So, how do you stay on that pink cloud? How do you stay motivated after the conference is over? Here are four easy tips to keep that motivation fresh and alive!

Blog: As soon as you get home, or even at night while at the conference, write down your thoughts. If you have a blog, write an article about the things you have learned. Share your knowledge with your followers. Make the content valuable and interesting, and others will share your article and continue the conversation. If you do not have blog, put together some slides to share with your team when you get back to the office. It is always best to write down your thoughts while they are fresh in your mind.

Connect: Most likely, you made several new contacts at the conference. Connect with them on all your social media platforms. Send them an e-mail telling them how much you enjoyed meeting or working with them. Share with them what you found the most helpful at the conference. Ask to connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Tag them in your posts while at the conference. You can continue to motivate each other even after the conference is over by keeping in touch.

Inspire Your Team: Hold a team meeting as soon as you get back to the office. Throw together a slide show of the top five take-aways from the conference. Delegate team members to start implementing new ideas and best practices. Encourage feedback from your team. Even though they weren’t at the conference, they may have some very valuable pieces to include.

Sign up For Another Conference: Remember how good you feel after the conference. Write it down. Now sign up for another conference, and when you are dragging your feet about going, remind yourself how much you learned and how motivated you feel after a conference. Much like going to the gym, we always feel great after we are finished.

Hopefully, these four easy tips will help you keep that momentum going strong even after the conference is over and you are headed back to your office.

BusyConf Simplifies Event Planning
by Ryan McGeary on

Marcia Moran from Modern DC Business Magazine interviewed me earlier this week. I got to talk about BusyConf and what makes us unique.

“Something always falls through the cracks when you don’t use an integrated system. Important things like venue address, date, schedule, or even how to register get overlooked. People still generally figure out how to get to your event, but forgetting to communicate important details frustrates attendees. When you don’t manage these details well, you gain a reputation as being hard to work with.”

Read the Article


BusyConf's Third High School Intern: Osman Sheikh
by Osman Sheikh on

Life is Short. Build stuff that matters.

Hi! My name is Osman, and I’m an entrepreneur, amateur web developer, and marketing/sales focused intern here at BusyConf. One of the quotes I live by is:

“Life is short. Build stuff that matters.”
–Siqi Chen

I try to do something that matters everyday.

I go to John Champe High School in Aldie, VA, and I hope to go to George Washington University when I graduate next year. I’ve always been interested in two things: technology and business, and I was lucky enough to see where they crossed paths. I love everything about businesses, entrepreneurship, and technology. My first “business” began in 2009 when I started copywriting for other small businesses. As a computer enthusiast, I was surprised by the number of small businesses that had little experience in leveraging the power of the internet. Afterwards, I branched out and started helping small businesses set up their own websites.

As I entered high school, my passion for entrepreneurship and technology really began to take shape. I started to use all the free time I had to learn web development and start a few e-commerce websites. I was having fun learning to program and optimizing my e-commerce sites, but I realized that I wasn’t progressing as fast as I could. I was learning in a vacuum. I wasn’t being challenged. My friends were not web developers or entrepreneurs. Any progress that I made was amazing to them, but they didn’t quite understand what I was doing. Of course, I liked being praised, but I realized that I wouldn’t improve without interacting with people who are doing the same thing as me. I needed a group of peers who would push me to do better. As far as I knew, there weren’t any young web developers or entrepreneurs in my area, so I turned to the internet.

I became a Hacker News/TechCrunch addict. Every minute of my free time was spent reading, learning, and researching startups, programming, and entrepreneurship. I used Treehouse and other resources to learn new skills. I saw people my age or even a few years younger starting innovative businesses, and this pushed me to do better.

Last month, I was sitting in my school’s library during study hall and decided to go on Hacker News. The default browser home page was my school’s website, and an announcement in the header urged visitors to check out a list of summer programs and internships in the area. I clicked on the link expecting the typical sports camps and summer classes, but I was surprised to see an internship for a local startup on the list. BusyConf was written in bold letters. As I usually do, I immediately Googled BusyConf to find out more. First of all, I was surprised that there were any startups within 50 miles of my suburban neighborhood. I was even more surprised to find out that the founder of BusyConf was an experienced web developer and entrepreneur. Acting on impulse, I immediately sent Ryan a (probably over-) excited e-mail asking him if I could intern at BusyConf. A week later, I was at the BusyConf offices interviewing for a position. This was my first job interview ever, and I was nervous, confused, and generally lost. The interview was the first time I could openly talk about startups, web development, and entrepreneurship with someone who was actually involved in these things.

On the first day, Ryan gave me, Forrest and Stuart an impromptu lesson on business negotiations with a real life example. Unplanned lessons like these are something I really look forward to this summer. I want to learn as much as I can about startups, programming, and web development while being an asset to BusyConf and providing value to our customers.

(photo courtesy of Green Sheep)

BusyConf's Second High School Intern: Stuart Olivera
by Stuart Olivera on

Career Up

Hello! I’m Stuart Olivera, one of four interns at BusyConf this summer.

I’m currently a rising senior at Stone Bridge High School. Outside of school, I am a freelance web designer and developer, building websites and web apps for all kinds of businesses and demands. My roots in the technology realm started when I was a little kid: I loved toying with electronics, pulling things apart, and playing computer games. When I was nine, I started exploring different things on my mom’s computer and soon began making websites. Fast forward a couple years and I started programming complete websites for friends and family, as well as a local church, when I learned to truly program dynamic web apps. Up until today, I taught myself everything from dealing with databases to creating custom content management systems and experimenting with the latest web technologies to take everything to the next level.

Over the past year, I took an AP Computer Science course at my high school, which became the first official class I’ve ever taken for programming. I breezed through the course for the most part, as the majority of the class focused on the basics of programming. However, I found that, as it didn’t teach me too much programming-wise, it certainly refined my daily habits resulting in much cleaner code. This came in handy when, about half way through the year, a programming competition arose. A friend of mine quickly became interested and thought of a new website to enter: DataMine. For the months to follow, I became the lead developer for the project while teaching myself new technologies and broadening my knowledge. Every now and then, I’d look back on what I had programmed in years past. Terrible practices, security flaws, and bugs reassured me of how much I had learned even just over the past eight months.

About a month after starting work on DataMine, I learned about an internship opportunity for a web company not too far away. I had already started searching for summer internships, but found most of them had the same commonalties that didn’t favor what I was looking for: college requirements, long commutes, and fields which didn’t interest me as much. But, this new internship opportunity was completely different. It was local, asked for high school students, and focused on the main field of my interest: the web. Despite not knowing too much about what I’d be doing, I quickly applied. Even going into the interview, I had no idea what to expect, but within the first couple minutes of the interview, I knew BusyConf was a great opportunity. Ryan proved to have quite a significant background of programming and leadership, not to mention how friendly and open to conversation he was. I was beginning to learn how valuable this internship would be to me, and how much I would learn over the summer.

My first day here at BusyConf was definitely a unique one. Even upon arrival, I knew this wouldn’t be some ordinary nine to five cubical assignment. Ryan’s amazing personality greeted us all into his office as we began to get setup for the summer ahead. Other people from within the building would pop in every once in a while to say hi while we typed away, eager to get the next to-do item complete. Ryan even treated us all to lunch, in which we got to know each other a little bit more.

Ryan’s friendliness and experience has really set high expectations for what I’ll accomplish this summer. I’ve already improved immensely over the past year and can’t wait to see how much further I’ll grow over the course of this internship.

Reluctant To Attend That Next Conference? This Is Why You Should Go!
by Heather Myklegard on


Yesterday, I went to a conference in the city. I went dragging my feet and with a bit of whimpering. Why? Well, when you work from home and do not have to do your hair, get dressed up, or drive anywhere, it becomes a pain when you do. But I got up early, left 2 hours before the conference started, and drove into the city. I had calculated what it would cost me in gas, babysitting fees, lunch, parking, and the price of the conference. I was convinced it was not worth it, and was kicking myself for ever agreeing to go to this thing.

I arrived in the city in less than an hour. Found a parking garage that had early-bird parking for $12 all day. I made it to the conference just in time and found that we had an endless supply of bottled water, coffee, pastries and juices. Things were starting to look up and I was ready to finally relax.

The conference started on-time and was on the topic of e-mail marketing and social media. The presenter was fun, engaging and told us right off the bat what we would be learning. He had my attention the entire time. I have been using my e-mail program for several years, and while I knew the basics, there was so much more that I wasn’t doing. It turned out to be a really great conference. I left feeling motivated and confident that I could do my job just a little bit better. Here are a few reasons why this conference was a success and why I would sign up with this organization again:

Great Presenter: The presenter started on time. He was engaging, enthusiastic, articulate, and funny. He had us go around the room and introduce ourselves. This helped the audience get involved right away. he was knowledgeable and confident, and had very interesting information to share.

Appropriate Breaks: We had appropriate breaks through out the day. Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore we would take a 10 minute break. The facility had free coffee, pastries, water, and soft drinks. They even had toasters to toast bagels. They had free Wi-Fi and comfortable seating through out the building.

Audience Involvement: Our presenters often asked the audience for their opinions, feedback, experiences, or just something simple like their favorite kind of cookie (that got a few chuckles). Keeping the audience involved was key in keeping the attention of the room–especially when everyone has iPhones, iPads, and every other kind of contraption sitting near them. It is good to keep people focused. He would also often say “eyes up here” or “you don’t want to miss this.” Seems a bit elementary, but it sure worked.

Hands-on Learning: Everyone in the audience had a small computer in front of them. We were able to work on our own projects and tailor them to the needs and goals of our own organizations. Having the ability to do, and not just watch, was huge.

Networking: Network. Network. Network. I soon learned that the entire room was a potential client. It was a fantastic way for me to meet other people, tell them about my business, and learn about theirs. Conferences are some of the best places to meet other professionals and to network.

So, was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Yes. Will I kick and scream the whole way there? Most likely. But any time you can get out of your comfort zone and get in front of people, you are going to win. So, get out there. Sign up for that conference or webinar. Learn something new and make a connection, or two!

Qrious and BusyConf Launch Partnership to Streamline Conference Workflows
by Ryan McGeary on


BusyConf is really excited to officially announce our partnership with Qrious (“curious”).

“As a conference attendee, I’ve always enjoyed the BusyConf experience. When planning began for #ChefConf 2013, BusyConf was the clear choice for managing the CFP, attendee registration, and conference scheduling. We needed a badge printing and lead retrieval system that provided a similarly enjoyable experience,” said Nathen Harvey, Technical Community Manager of Opscode and #ChefConf 2013 Program Chair.
…</br> “We’re really excited to have Qrious as our first partner to integrate with our real-time API,” said Ryan McGeary, CEO and Founder of BusyConf. “Keeping data in sync across services is something that really matters to conference organizers and the integration provides instant synchronization between our two platforms.”

If you’re interested in the automated integration between our two platforms, contact support today.

Read the Press Release


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