08. Determine Size of Audience & Location

It is important to know who the forum will be catering to and the anticipated number of participants. But in order to do so, some sort of mechanism must be use to calculate a ball park figure. Some possible key indicators might be:

  • Value or importance of topic to industry
  • Word of mouth
  • State of the economy
  • Groups or fields who may have an interest.

No matter what size of audience you expect a limit should be set on the number of attendees. This number will be governed by the details of the forum proceedings, size of space at the facility, cost, and objectives. Large forums (100 participants or more) make it difficult to hold breakout sessions and seem to focus on only technology transfer. On the other hand, smaller forums (Less than 100 participants) are more like workshops where interaction is essential to meet objectives.

After determining the size of audience you expect to attend the forum, a location that can accommodate this size of a group must be found. The location should be centered in an area where the audience you’re trying to attract has the greatest presence. In other words, you don’t want to hold a forum in Nigeria for a topic that deals with the Gulf of Mexico unless it’s applicable to that region. When selecting a location, keep in mind to search for these key factors:

  • Where are the facilities
  • What are the advantages of using this particular facility
  • What are the associated costs and what is included
  • How far are the facilities from an airport, restaurants, and activities
  • Will they provided assistance in preparing meeting rooms
  • How far in advance must you book

The location you choose must me the forum objectives. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to keep a back-up location available in case something was to fall through the cracks.

Lessons Learned:

  • Some sort of formula should be derived to determine size of audience
  • By determining the size up front, objectives can be met through proper preparations
  • Pick a central location where industry has a major presence
  • Try to always maintain a back-up location in case something goes wrong