Essential Equipment for Large Conferences
The ‘good old days’ of in person events are slowly returning - hooray. While virtual conferences and meetings certainly have an established place in the modern corporate world, it is the in-person events that arguably still offer the most in terms of networking, diverse and focused audience participation, knowledge sharing, content distribution, communication, and perhaps most importantly, the enjoyment of social interaction and human connection.
With restrictions being lifted, events’ participation size has started to increase significantly, meaning that organisers are once again needing to plan their events strategically and meticulously, to deliver the most successful and valuable experience for companies and individuals alike.
A crucial component that contributes to the overall success of a (physical) large conference, is the equipment. In this blog, we’ll cover all the equipment you should be factoring into your event plan.
Go big or go home
A philosophy very applicable to large scale conference execution, and increased attendee capacity does indeed bring with it increased responsibility when it comes to making sure that you have all the right equipment, apparatus, kit, you name it – for the job. You certainly don’t want attendees going home with a disappointing experience of substandard meeting equipment etched in their memories.
Be a delegate for the delegates
Getting yourself into the mindset of the conference delegates will help you to start thinking about what they will expect and need during the event. If you can, visit the chosen venue and assess what equipment is available to use there, then list out all the additional kit that you will need to source elsewhere in time for the conference.
Key questions to ask are:
- Where will the projector need to go?
- Will sound from the speaker carry to the back of the room?
- Are there enough seats and desks for the attendee list size?
- How comfortable are the seats? (Then test them out)
- Are enough power sockets available for all the electrical equipment?
- How can I make sure that wires, cables and chords are safely positioned in the conference space?
- Where is the best place to locate a refreshments station?
Asking these types of questions help event organisers to form a clear vision of how they see a room and its equipment being laid out for a large conference.
What’s the agenda?
This is the question that no event organiser wants to hear during a conference. An engaging and inspiring agenda is a key motivator for attendees wanting to get the most from a conference. Ensure that everyone is equipped with this vital information in an appropriate and accessible format. Typically, the first speaker will introduce the conference agenda and may use a projector to do so, but an agenda can also come in the form of a handout or digital piece of content accessed on attendee’s devices.
Comfort is key
Expecting people to sit and focus for hours on an uncomfortable chair is a major error in judgment. Think carefully (and test out) how chairs and tables/desks will function in the space and for the duration of time needed. No one wants to walk (or hobble) away from a conference with an aching back.
‘I can’t hear the keynote speaker’ – audio and video technical equipment must-haves
All conferences – no matter their size – rely on technical equipment.
From screen resolution to speaker volume, technical equipment can literally make or break the success of a conference.
Create an itinerary of all the technical equipment you will need, and make sure that it is available and suits the meeting room space.
From experience, the most critical technology you are likely to need will be the following:
- Screen displays: The first thing people notice in a conference room is the “visual” aspect of the conference room. Ensure your display is as high a resolution as possible and centrally located for easy participant viewing.
- Audio system: Good quality speakers and microphones are a necessity. The better the sound quality, the better the conference meeting.
- Control panel: Source a compatible and easy-to-use control device for the conference room’s audio-visuals and user interface and test it (or witness it being tested successfully) with the technology you will be using – there is no substitute for a dry run!
- All the correct cables and fully charged: ensure each piece of technology is accompanied with the compatible cables, or if wireless, make sure it is charged fully.
On-hand, in-conference technical support
Just because you understand the nuances of your home stereo system, it doesn’t mean you will be able to navigate your way around the unfamiliar, venue-owned audio equipment. In fact, malfunctioning technical equipment is singly one of the most common mishaps that occur during external conferences.
That’s why event organisers should get assurances that a technical wizard will be on hand to avert such crises and spare embarrassment.
Fast and free Wi-Fi
It should be no surprise to any corporate event organiser in 2021 that one of the most important requirements for happy conference attendees is to provide them with complimentary and speedy internet access.
With many presentations accessed from the digital cloud, a good internet connection will also enable guests to connect and complete any in-session activities on laptops or mobile devices.
Ensuring conference equipment is accessible to all
Creating an inclusive environment is an absolute must for large conferences. A crowd numbering 100 or more will almost certainly include attendees who are wheelchair users, have sight or hearing impairments, or have another special requirement, and these people should be guaranteed an equal opportunity to fully participate in the conference.
This means that you, as the organiser, need to consider tailoring the conference equipment to suit the needs of everyone. If the conference administration has been meticulous, you would have a list of attendee’s names and the chance to see if anyone has specified any special requirements so that you can offer truly personalised treatment.
However, you can be assured that regardless of understanding all the specific individual details, ensuring all the essential needs are met – ample space for wheelchair users, subtitles available on-screen, a well implemented speaker system – you are on the right track to delivering an accessible conference that everyone can feel part of.
Only the necessary handouts, please
We’ve all experienced handout overload at events, the ones that you absent-mindedly grab on the way into the conference as you try to work out where your seat is, immediately stuffing the various sized pieces of paper into your bag, never to be seen again.
As well important environment and budget wastage considerations, it’s pretty soul destroying seeing the handouts you have worked so hard on getting designed, written, printed and delivered, left on desks or even in the bin.
If you want them to remain engaged after the conference itself, make sure your material is easily recovered.
Pass me the coffee
Attendees should be alert and focused for the meeting, so make sure they have what they need to pay attention. Whether it’s a triple espresso or a calming camomile tea, you will need to provide hot and cold drink making facilities for the guests.
Any number of events’ sites have the potential to offer all that is needed for a successful, large-scale conference, but failing to provide the appropriate equipment is often where such venues fall short.
The embarrassment of slow Wi-Fi, lack of sound or a broken projector screen are, unfortunately, the things people will remember most from an event. If you want to guarantee a smooth, professional, and productive conference, be sure to cover everything in this complete meeting equipment checklist.
Lane End Conferencing Solutions
At Lane End, we specialise in conferences for smaller and large group sizes, offering comprehensive delegate packages which include but are limited to the following:
- Air-conditioned conference room with two syndicate rooms.
- Ceiling-mounted data projector and/or 50inch plasma and screen in the main room.
- Wall-mounted 50 inch plasma screen in all the syndicate rooms.
- Free Grade A+ fibre optic internet - Wi-Fi and hard-wired up to 100Mbps.
- Flipcharts and pens as well as pin boards in all the meeting rooms.
- Unlimited tea and coffee with freshly baked biscuits and afternoon cakes, and refreshments including chilled water in the conference rooms.
If you are interested in hosting an in person, virtual or hybrid event, we have a range of bespoke and off the shelf packages and to suit your requirements. From fully interactive hybrid conferences streamed to multiple countries to small one to one virtual meetings, Lane End can help you to deliver a truly successful and memorable conference experience.