Planning a large event or conference can be stressful. When all goes over effortlessly, it’s because of all the behind-the-scenes work that went into preparing for the meeting. There are a lot of moving parts and logistics to think about and map out. If you aren’t strict about adhering to the agenda timing, then the whole day may turn into chaos and mayhem.
One of the essential aspects of running an organized and well-planned conference is to make sure you keep on schedule and that you stay on time. One of the toughest jobs and biggest challenges is ensuring session times stick to the agenda. Be glad to know there are ways you can keep your speakers on time and your conference running smoothly.
Communicate with Your Speakers in Advance
Open communication is key to keeping your speakers on time at your conference. Clearly communicate timeframes and expectations, so they understand how much material they’ll be able to cover in their speaking slot. Specify how much time they’ll have to speak on the topic and how much time they should leave for Q&A. Do not be vague and instead talk to your speakers when you’re ready to give them a specific agenda that states their date and time for their presentation.
It’s also in your best interest to review the timing they have when they arrive to present. Be sure to let each speaker know of any changes or adjustments to the schedule, so they aren’t caught off guard. Relay the consequences of going over their time such as you gently interrupting them or turning down the lights. Always keep it professional so that you don’t cause any major disruptions that the audience may view as inappropriate.
Use A Timer & Visual Cues
Another way to keep your conference speakers on time is to use timers and other visual cues. Check out some of the most popular and usefultimers, clocks, and counters online, so you’re prepared for your next conference. Conference clocks are one of the most effective and widespread solutions for making sure your speakers stick to the agenda. Place your timer near the stage where they can see it so the speaker can hopefully adjust the pace of their talk and finish on time. The clock needs to be visible and apparent, so they don’t forget about it. Point it out to the speaker before they start their talk and explain how much time they have so they’re aware.
It’s also helpful to have a room moderator present who can signal to the speaker about five minutes before their time is up. You may also want to hold up a sign or visual cue that compliments your timing device well. Make eye contact with your presenter so they clearly understand what you’re trying to tell them and they can wrap up the session.
Leave Buffer Room
As you plan your program, be sure to leave a buffer such as transition times between sessions. Speakers need time to move to other rooms and get set up before they dive in. You may also want to tell your speaker to report a few minutes early, so you don’t have to worry about them running late. It’s wise to schedule in some coffee breaks but then make sure you have a person with a bell who can remind your attendees when it’s time to report to the next session room. While leaving this buffer room is important, it’s not going to keep all your speakers from going over. Your best bet is to invest in conference timers for keeping your speakers on time.
Awareness is Key to Your Success
As the organizer, it’s your job to confirm everyone’s on the same page and understands the importance of staying on time. Make your speakers aware of the timing devices in each room and provide tips for helping them to prepare a speech that will ensure they don’t surpass the allotted timeframe. Assign room moderators so that there’s always someone keeping an eye on each session and can take swift action if a speaker is going over. You should host speaker preparation meetings before the conference so you can notify your presenters that they’ll have timing devices that will help keep them on track. The more you touch on the topic and remind them about following the agenda, the more likely it is that you’ll have fewer issues to deal with and overcome.
Putting together and managing an in-person conference or event takes a lot of planning and hard work to pull off. One of the trickiest parts or aspects is getting your speakers to stick to the agenda. It’s vital that you keep on track with your agenda or you risk the entire day running late and into the evening, which may intrude and mess up any other activities you had planned. You also want to respect the time of your attendees and meet their expectations by sticking to the schedule that was shared and published. Conference timers are an excellent way to keep your speakers on time and your event running efficiently. Take the initiative to discuss the importance of following the timeframes for each session and the reasons behind having these timers in each room if you want to have a successful conference.
Below are a few of the main takeaways you should keep in mind as you plan your next conference:
- Tell the speakers exactly how much time they have for the presentation
- Use a timer or visual cues to indicate the end of the session
- Brief your moderator to track time and cut in when appropriate
Put these suggestions into practice, and you’ll be well on your way to pulling off one of your best conferences yet. Remain flexible and adaptable on-site so that you can adequately handle any type of situation that may arise or try to throw you off. Remember, that you don’t have to invite speakers back next year if they’re rude or don’t follow the guidelines and schedule.