Write it down


You cannot rely on your memory, however good it is.

The successful planning and execution of a conference requires great attention to detail.

You will have so many things to remember, many of which need to be delivered at precisely the correct moment without a second chance if you forget the first time, that some of them will get forgotten - unless you have something more reliable than memory to work with.

You need to find a way first, to capture everything that needs to be captured, and second, to put it in a place where it will come to hand in when you need it.

Capturing the things that come to mind

Get into the habit of writing everything down as soon as it comes to mind.

Everything needs to be recorded somewhere other than the inside of your own head.

There are two reasons for this: firstly, no-one else can can see inside your head, and nearly every part of the organisation and planning needs to be accessible to the other conference organisers. Secondly, even for your own purposes the inside of your head isn’t a safe place - you will forget things that aren’t written down.

Every time you think of something, dump it as quickly as possible into external storage, whether it’s on paper or in an electronic form, or even as a voice memo to yourself. Find a way to do this with the minimum possible friction.

Don’t worry about structuring it or getting it down in its final form, because you can take a minute or so each day to move items into the appropriate files when you’re not rushing about doing something else.

Ensuring that everything will be at hand

As long as everything has been recorded, you can later move each item where it belongs.

Items for the programme booklet can be dumped into the appropriate file, things you want to mention in your introductions can be dropped into your slides or their notes, things to do can go into your to-do list and so on.

When you’re on stage at the end of the event thanking people, that is not when you want to be racking your memory to ensure that you don’t forget to thank someone important. You want that to be able to go on stage and know that if someone needs to be thanked, your slides, or the notes that you know you’ll have in your hand, will prompt you.