Staff guide to organising a conference

Staff guide to organising a conference

For University of Glasgow staff, organising a conference can reap many benefits. As well as providing an excellent platform for discussion, learning and information sharing, a successful conference allows gives the department and the University of Glasgow the opportunity to reaffirm its status as a centre of excellence. 

In order for the conference to be a success for both delegates and organisers, it is vital that all aspects of the event are considered from the very beginning of the planning process. Conferences and Events are delighted to assist our colleagues who are organising an event. We offer a wealth of knowledge and experience to any event being held at the University of Glasgow and with that in mind we have produced a guidance in some of the areas which you'll need to consider when organising a conference.


Event organisers should bear in mind their responsibilities under the legislation in the Equality Act 2010 and the University's own Accessible Events Policy. Conferences & Events are committed to meeting our requirements under this legislation as service providers and we are committed to working with Event Organisers to assist you with meeting your responsibilities. Before proceeding to organise an event your should ensure you familiarise yourself with the Accessible Events Policy

Planning your Conference

  • Introduction of the people involved in the conference and the roles they are to play
  • Clarify the aims and objectives of the conference
  • Establish how the project has already progressed
  • Draw up an activity schedule to include all tasks to be undertaken by whom and provide timescales
  • Produce events schedule which outlines the programme and all arrangements to be booked
  • Development of the conference theme and programme
  • Arrange regular meetings with the planning team and produce progress reports


  • Preparation of conference budget
  • Ascertain fees and costs with suppliers
  • Set up internal account from which to manage finances
  • Set appropriate delegate fees, sponsorship/exhibitor rates
  • Collection of registration fees, issue receipts and chase non-payers (ensure deadline is set)
  • Payment of suppliers
  • Preparation of final set of accounts

Conference Programme

  • Set objectives so your speakers know what you are aiming to achieve and delegate expectations are met
  • Prepare content and timings for conference programme
  • Contact Conferences and Events in order to ensure that you book all the necessary meeting rooms and equipment to accommodate the conference programme
  • Draw/up workshop/session schedule
  • Revisit timings to ensure travel time between sessions in different venues is adequate


  • Decide on session topics
  • Announce call for papers and set deadline for receipt
  • Provide format for paper and abstract submission
  • Confirm/reject papers submitted
  • Ask presenters to register
  • Plot programme timings
  • Appoint facilitators to chair sessions
  • Decide if delegates need to register in advance to attend sessions
  • Confirm AV requirements with presenters
  • Inform Conferences and Events of AV requirements as soon as possible
  • Produce book of abstracts
  • Inform Conferences and Events of any poster displays
  • Produce session descriptions for delegate packs
  • If required, produce tickets and sign-up sheets
  • Produce session/workshop evaluation forms


  • Communicate with Conferences and Events regarding suitable venues and dates for the conference - Do not set dates prior to securing venues.
  • Confirm with Conferences and Events what venues you would like to proceed to book
  • Liaise with Conferences and Events regarding room set-ups and layout, catering requirements, equipment required, necessary signage & accessibility requirements
  • Supply Conferences and Events with event schedule


  • Communicate with Accommodation Services if booking student residences for your delegates
  • Alternatively communicate with hotels directly or use Glasgow Convention Bureau's booking tool to reserve rooms
  • If you are not organising accommodation, ensure you can provide some information on local accommodation available to the delegate to book directly

Social Programme

  • Prepare suitable programme of social activities for delegates and, where appropriate, partners.  Suggestions include drinks receptions, conference dinners or excursions.
  • If spaces are required for any social activity then discuss with Conferences and Events who will be able to advise on options for hosting these at the University. 
  • If you wish to hold external social events then you'll need to contract these directly
  • Ensure you have covered costs within the conference budget
  • Prepare table plans, name badges and tickets for events as required
  • Book coaches and taxis where applicable


  • You may be required to arrange and book transport between airports, stations, event, accommodation and social events though this may not be necessary as delegates are often happy to make their own way to venue and accommodation.
  • You will need to ensure you have provided relevant information on public transport options for delegates
  • If booking transport, liaise with the transport company on appropriate timings, routes and pick-up points
  • Produce transport schedule/manifest
  • Schedule for pick-up points that can be allocated and (clearly) displayed to delegates
  • Signage for coaches


  • Invitation of speakers
  • Confirm speakers together with objectives for conference
  • Request speaker biography, summary of presentation and AV requirements
  • Co-ordinate content of speakers presentations
  • Ensure Conferences and Events are aware of all AV requirements as soon as possible
  • Check all speakers have registered
  • If appropriate, arrange travel, catering and accommodation for speakers
  • Produce speaker material for delegate packs
  • If required, arrange rehearsals and Chairperson's briefings
  • Produce speaker evaluation forms


Collate all of the audio visual (AV) equipment and technical support requirements as comprehensively as you can as soon as possible. Conferences and Events will then ensure everything that you require is available and booked and if not included within the venue hire cost will provide a quote for your requirements. All AV provision is provided by external specialists for Conferences and Events. Some of the items you should consider are:

  • Set, screens, staging and lecturns
  • Projection equipment
  • IT equipment (e.g. laptops)
  • Audio/PA systems
  • Lighting
  • Other visual aids (e.g. flip-charts, poster boards)
  • Technical support required (e.g. at start of the event only or technician present throughout the day)


In marketing your event you will need to include the following:

  • Sponsorship:  Identify potentially interested sponsors and draw up sponsors proposal to identify the ways in they will benefit from supporting the event.
  • Exhibitors:  Produce exhibitor information pack in order to sell stand space.  Co-ordinate the organisation of exhibitors and prepare exhibitors' information and site plan.
  • Promotion of the Conference:  Identify ways of promoting the conference via various channels (e.g. websites, mailing lists, promotional literature, associations, societies and other organisations).
  • PR Campaign:  Create a media action plan together with timescales. Identify appropriate mediums such as social media, websites, press etc. Submit press releases (these should always include conference and contact information).
  • Advertising:  Create advertising plan to decide on most effective ways of advertising the conference.