How to Manage a Large Group at a Conference (Without Feeling like a Babysitter)

conference management

How do you measure the success of a great conference? Strong attendance? Good speakers? Flattering comment cards? Sure.

But the most important and least quantifiable metric boils down to this:

How did your event make people feel?

The crowd is your measuring stick. Quite simply, how did you make them feel while they were at your event, and how did they feel after the fact?

“Nothing compares to a good conference: the atmosphere of being immersed in a crowd of people who share the same passion as you, the lessons you learn and advice you take in, and the friends you get to meet and the new ones you make,” wrote Zach Inglis.

“You leave a good conference re-energized — full of zeal for your job and bursting with fresh ideas.”

At the same time, there’s nothing like a bad conference. Guests may not always share a good/bad experience on a feedback form, but they likely will with each other. They’re also probably going to tell anyone in their office and everyone on their Twitter feed.

So let’s take a look at how to guide your large group through a good time, without lingering on top of them.

Choose Your Venue Early

This sets the tone for everything. So get a venue you’re happy with, and get it early.

This is particularly important if you’re anticipating a large crowd from out of town. In this case, guests should be able to stay at, or very close to the venue.

If your venue is a bit out of the way, maybe sure to arrange car or limo service to get people to the event safely. If guests have to worry about finding their own transportation and parking, you will see more late arrivals and grumpy people.

Embody the Experience You Want Them to Have

The guests need to see you and your event staff smiling and having fun. You can help set the tone.

That means if you’re giving a tour or walking around, be sure to be high-energy and say hi to lots of people along the way.

Lead people into conversations. If you see someone floundering by themselves, feel free to introduce them into a group conversation. Spearhead the connections and the conversations, without forcing people together into awkward chitchat.

Stay Accessible, Without Harassing

It’s a fine line. You want your group to know you’re there if you need them. But you don’t want them to feel you’re standing over their shoulders, forcing them to have fun.

Stay mobile. Keep yourself and your volunteers moving, so guests will feel like you’re there, but you’re not hovering.

Have a Second in Command

If you’re not going to be the face of your event, you need someone to step into that role.

Designate a staffer or head volunteer to be the go-to. Being able to trust someone with crowd management means you can focus on logistics and other “behind the scenes” elements.

“Having a great head volunteer means that you don’t have to worry about silly little things on the day of,” added Inglis.

“You can concentrate on making sure everyone is having a good time. Hopefully, you’ll even have a chance to relax and enjoy yourself, which is important.”

Don’t Skimp Out on the Refreshments

The food is often the first thing people mention when they talk about an event. It’s also a conversational icebreaker for people at your event. So there is a lot more at stake than just keeping people fed.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of selecting the right food and beverage for an event,” wrote Rob Hard, Event Planning Expert.

Encourage Social Media

Gett people checking in and tweeting on their phones. Always make sure you have a hashtag for your event. This simultaneously:

  • Gets People talking about your event
  • Publicizes your event and your company
  • Allows you to chime in, to address concerns or questions

Social media can actually encourage socialization.

Take Care of Your Guest, at Every Step

As we mentioned earlier, you can do yourself and your guests a massive favor by taking care of ground transportation for them. A shuttle limousine, or car service gets your guests to the event on time, and in a relaxed mood.

We are the best-rated limo service company in Chicago, and for good reason. We have the most competitive rates, high-quality cars and professional drivers to serve you.

Contact us by calling (877) 444-1205, or click here to get in touch with us to start planning.