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Career Path: Conference Producer

Last updated February 28th, 2019

Conferences are a great career choice

Compared to the ‘sexy’ nature of music, festival and party event management, the role of conference producer may seem to reflect a less exciting, more corporate side of events. However, for those who are meticulous and can offer precision in practice, can excel in engagement and secure success in delivering outcomes, conference production can be a role with plenty of potential for adding excitement to corporate conferences and your event management career!

Who might you work for?

A conference producer could be hired on a freelance basis, or may be employed directly by a corporation, private company or by a public sector service, such as the NHS, local education authority or even national charities. Basically, any company or sector which needs to share information, strategies and sector-related practice developments with a set of clients, service users, professional colleagues and investors or trustees, will want to run conferences.
Conference producer salaries start at around £18k, which can quickly increase upwards of £25,000 to £35,000, depending on the sector. Individual conference producers establising a successful record in delivering engagement and outcomes can certainly expect to gain higher salaries and bonuses within the commercial sector.

So what does the role of conference producer involve?

Just like all event management roles, event day (in this case conference day) is a small part of a large process! Conferences often involve offering and sharing intellectual content, communicating information and practice in ways which engage delegates, whilst also focusing on outcomes for all of those involved: those delegates attending want to come away feeling their expectations have been exceeded, that they’ve received considerable value for their time and money – and so will those whose brand is behind the conference!
As such, being a conference producer particularly involves a high level of work behind the scenes and significantly ahead of the event itself. It might help to consider this as an overall process, which generally involves five key phases:
1) Research – this starting point includes:

2) Planning – once a proposal has been accepted (allowing for a few adaptations and compromises before the brief fits everyone’s ideas and objectives) it’s then the conference manager’s role to plan the logistics of the event, including (but not limited to):

3) Managing – At this stage, the conference producer will be putting into action all logistics relating to every aspect of that planning! Many will be general event management tasks, such as venue, contractor and budget management, but conference production involves an extended set of responsibilities which effective, efficient conference producers must be able to manage:

4) Delivering – When the day arrives, conference producers are hands-on to ensure the conference and all those logistics take place seamlessly. This means you’ll be expected to:

5) Evaluation and reporting – Viability and engagement underpin conferencing success and it’s part of the content producer’s role to be able to fully evaluate the event against objectives such as client engagement, uptake in services and the meeting of any other commercial-targets, such as gaining material during the conference to use in further marketing and publicity purposes. This is likely to involve interpretation of data gained (or overseeing the delivery of this from technology service providers) and then compiling a detailed report of outcomes against initial objectives, as well as interrogating and delivering delegate feedback.

Sounds like a role for you?

Of course, such very specific responsibilities demand some very strong skills areas, so if you think Conference Production could be your event management niche, you’ll need to demonstrate:

And of course, you’ll need that event–career stalwart: energy – not just to keep up with the role but to inject into each conference, no matter how big or how long!

How do I get started with conference producing?

Breaking into conference production can be difficult without relevant experience. Event management training is always a good idea, whilst taking every opportunity to boost experience will also help, so take as much work experience as you can get at conferences, as well as events such as educational events, which offer cross-over skills.
Once you’ve got an event management qualification and some work experience behind you, consider applying for junior conference producer roles or internships, as a step towards producer and senior producer roles. Oh, and whatever role you start off with, always try to be the best possible event professional you can be, in order to hone your skills, widen your network and have a positive impact, as every successful conference you’re involved in will be another step forwards in this very exciting events career.

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