Prolificon 2023: How we organised an annual conference in 7 steps
Last week, we came together for Prolificon, our annual company conference.
As a remote-first company, Prolificon is a great opportunity for our employees to connect in-person, celebrate successes, and reflect on the past year while looking forward to our exciting future plans.
This year, we hosted Prolificon in December - perfect for a relaxed and festive atmosphere.
How do you plan an annual company conference?
Organising an annual conference like Prolificon is no small feat. It takes careful planning, attention to detail, and tight communication.
In this post, I’ll walk you through how we did it, step by step.
1. Outline the objectives
The first step in planning any company event is to outline the goals and objectives. What did we want to achieve? And how will this benefit our employees?
We chose three goals that aligned with our culture:
- Celebrate achievements
- Provide professional development
- Encourage team bonding
These helped shape our agenda and guided the planning process.
2. Create a budget
Working with our finance team, we created a budget tracker. This covered venue costs, catering, audio and video (AV) costs, branded materials, and more.
Using the tracker ensured our budget was realistic and aligned with our objectives.
3. Find the right venue
We had 67 extra employees to accommodate in 2023. So, this year’s venue needed to be larger than the last.
Team size, location, and atmosphere were all important factors in finding the perfect venue. We wanted a space that was well-equipped with the right tech for presentations. We also needed a second room for workshops and break-out spaces.
We spent a few days in London scouting about five venues. When talking to venues, there were some key questions to ask about catering, tea & coffee breaks, whether AV is included, and what came with the AV package.
Then there were logistics around transport and accommodation to manage. We had to ensure the hotel was within easy walking distance of all venues.
To add another challenge, the event was in London, which meant we faced train strikes during the conference dates. So, we had to consider contingency plans for any unforeseen issues.
4. Form an event planning committee
Next, we needed to form an event planning committee and start delegating tasks like logistics, marketing, and content creation.
Splitting the workload helped ensure that we could manage every aspect to a high standard.
5. Assemble the agenda
There’s a lot to pack into a conference agenda: talks, breakout sessions, networking opportunities, lunch, and more. We had to allow enough time for each segment and include breaks to keep attendees engaged.
We also had to think about how to foster opportunities to network and bond. To do this, we incorporated icebreaker activities, roundtable discussions, and a quiz. These encouraged employees to interact and collaborate.
This year, we introduced a fireside chat segment. We wanted to find and invite panel members who could inspire and educate our team with content that aligned with our objectives.
A top tip for organising conferences: have a run-through session with speakers beforehand. This helped us gauge the timings and gave us a chance to review the content that would be shared.
6. Promote the event and keep employees updated
As a remote-first company, we mainly communicate through Slack. So, we introduced a Prolificon Slack channel to keep employees in the loop.
We posted regular updates on the agenda, schedule, and general logistics. This was for awareness, and we wanted to get employees excited about the conference.
7. Gather feedback
After a fun-filled three days, the last step was to collect employee feedback and analyse the event's success. We’ll have a retro session in January 2024 to evaluate this feedback. It will help us improve future Prolificons and address employee concerns or suggestions.
Wrapping up on Prolificon 2023
Organising an annual conference takes a lot of careful planning and execution. Ultimately, our aim was to create an event with impact that our people would remember. One that makes team bonds stronger, celebrates achievements, and sets the stage for future success. We'd like to extend a huge thank you to all the people made this event possible.
We had a blast. And of course, we’ll be back in 2024 with an even bigger, better Prolificon.
Why not join us for next year’s event? Head on over to our careers page and check out our open roles.