I have been busy organizing a conference for the last few months. The purpose of the conference is a get-together of postgraduate students mainly from Britain who are working in combinatorics. Since a step-by-step procedure of organizing a conference has been written by Catherine Armstrong, I felt it would be useful to mention some personal lessons from my efforts so far.
- Start early to get funds. This is so true for everything. When I was entrusted with the organization, I immediately applied for funding. The deadlines for funding from different organizations and learned societies are twice or thrice a year, so it is critical to apply quickly and get money under the belt. Such funds can subsidize the registration fees, which is good news for delegates.
- Remember that the host organization will be willing to give some funds if the event is worthy enough. In our case, it was easy to convince our concerned department that the conference matches the department’s aims.
- Starting early is also crucial to book a venue and notify every one concerned about the intended plans.
- The event should be during a term break and should not clash with other related events in the country. This enables maximum participation.
- Maintain excellent relations with the finance manager. Our conference account was being handled by the department secretary – fortunately I have a good working relationship with her. If the relationship is not good, every request can seem like an irritation to the person concerned.
- Be in control of the website. A conference website is the most useful part of conference organization. It provides all the information. To enable quick updates of website info, it is useful to be in a position to directly update the website.
- Make the information on how to get to the venue very clear.
- Honour the sponsors. We have put the sponsor’s logos everywhere from the website to the dinner menus! This is a good way of keeping the sponsors happy.
- Get catering and accommodation service from a professionally run organization. Although this is not the cheapest option, it is worth the money. We are lucky to have our own accommodation and catering service on campus and working with them and discussing requirements has been very easy.
I’ll be back with some further lessons.