You secured an amazing venue, have enough discounted hotel rooms to accommodate every attendee, and now all that’s left is to figure out the convention schedule. Much of your time in convention planning involves balancing the schedule in a way that makes the event feel full at all times, while facilitating meal break times, set up and tear down times, and other matters that concern your class and workshop presenters.
Establish how much time you have for workshops and classes. Once you know exactly how large the time blocks are, you can start to work in what the main draws are with workshops and classes, and how much programming you need to fill up all of the schedule blocks.
Physically examine all of the spaces for workshops and classes to determine the size and any special features of the room. For example, rooms with windows, centrally located rooms, and those with special architecture features which may cause a problem, such as pillars.
Send a survey to all of your presenters to determine how much equipment they need in their spaces, whether they have any special room requirements, and their preferred time. This way you avoid having a lot of grumpy presenters in the morning, who simply aren’t morning people in the least.
Use a scheduling tool instead of scheduling by hand. Balancing a convention schedule is as much of an art as a science, and getting help from a tool set takes some of the pain out of the process. BusyConf.com allows you to balance out the workshops that are going to form the keystone of your programming with smaller classes throughout, giving your schedule a mix of must-see workshops and downtime that keeps all of your attendees happy. Another advantage to using BusyConf is its ability to streamline the review committee process, automatic mobile schedule creation, and easy-to-use registration.
Don’t overload the schedule. You want to put breaks around the standard lunch and dinner hours to give your attendees time to grab food. Work with the hotel or local restaurants for the best hours for these breaks, so they aren’t getting overloaded during their normal lunch and dinner rush hours. By putting breaks in the schedule, you also give attendees time to network and socialize, instead of making them feel as though there is always pressure to attend the next session.
Conventions require a great deal of time, energy, and effort in order to be successful. You can have the best venue and attendance in the world, but if your scheduling is problematic you’re going to alienate presenters and attendees alike. Use all of the tools at your disposal to create a schedule that makes everyone talk about how excited they are about the next time the convention comes into town.
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