Asking a conference producer to describe a normal working day is like asking a film fan to describe a typical Johnny Depp performance. It simply does not exist. Due to the nature of my job, on any given day I can be working in a diverse range of different environments on a variety of different projects.
A producer will typically work on more than one conference at a time, and production cycles can be very tight. This invariably results in long hours, particularly when approaching a conference day, but the results can be incredibly rewarding.
A conference producer is essentially responsible for researching and putting together the intellectual content of the conference programmes which are at the cutting edge of business strategy. On a normal day I’ll be at my desk by about 9.30 and set about checking my voicemail and responding to emails. This is often a bit of a mammoth task because of the sheer number of people involved in a single conference – everyone from the speaker to the caterer needs to be kept regularly updated. I will then usually try to get stuck in to some research. This can be the most important aspect of a producer’s job, especially at the beginning of a project. In these early stages, research will involve making calls to industry experts on the related topic. This in turn helps to identify and recruit speakers, as well as gathering information to pass on to the sponsorship and marketing teams.
Although they have separate dedicated teams, it is still my job to liaise with the coordinator to tie together the efforts of the sponsorship and marketing managers.
At around 1pm I’ll usually try to grab some lunch, although more often than not this will involve little more than a sandwich at my desk! After this I may spend the afternoon writing the brochure for the event. A conference producer is responsible for all aspects of brochure content, and he or she will liaise with the designer to ensure the final product encourages as many sales as possible. The brochure is the key marketing tool in persuading people to part with what can often be up to £1000 for a ticket.
Of course on the day of the conference itself I have an altogether different set of priorities. Most of the day will be spent working alongside the coordinator running the on-site management and ensuring speakers arrive and run to time. I will also usually use the time to network with speakers and delegates, as this often helps me to identify future conference topics as well as giving me a chance to expand my business card collection! The days after the event will be spent completing the conference budget and producing invoices to be processed by accounts.
So, in summary, being a conference producer involves long days and extremely good time management skills – you will constantly have to juggle many different tasks with people making demands for your time. However, the high level of responsibility that comes with the job can result in a great sense of satisfaction when a job goes well. In addition, promotion prospects are extremely good, you will find yourself with extensive opportunities to travel, and you will make an endless list of senior contacts with whom to indulge yourself on many a business lunch!