Details, Details, Details… Setting up the 2014 Family and Youth Conference

written by Darcy Klingle
December 2, 2013

Right now the Alliance staff is hard at work developing the workshop content for the 2014 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness this February 18 and 19. As the Alliance’s Director of Meetings and Events, though, I don’t plan the workshop content. I’m responsible for planning the event itself.

It’s my job to ensure conference content is presented in the most appropriate settings, with the most appropriate food, the best audio/visual setup, and so on. Before a conference there are a lot of details that need to be ironed out, which is why I recently visited the venue in New Orleans, where the conference will be taking place.

Did you know that event planners have to consider things like brain food when planning an event? It’s never a good idea to serve a filling, carb-heavy lunch before attendees head into an afternoon full of educational workshops. So part of my New Orleans visit was to carefully review and taste menu options to make sure attendees receive meals that will leave them not only satisfied, but keep them energized throughout a packed day of workshops.

During my trip, I also had the opportunity to walk through the venue space with audio visual experts to determine where equipment is best set up and what kind of equipment we’ll be using.

For the visual component of our conference, the Alliance uses something called IMAG, which stands for "image magnification." This refers to large-scale video projection technology that allows attendees seated at a distance from the main stage to see an image of the speaker projected onto a large screen.

The type of IMAG projection you use depends on the seating capacity of your room. There’s rear projection, when the projector is set up behind the stage, and there’s overhead projection, when the projector is flown from beams on the ceiling. For this conference, we’ll be using overhead projection, because we’re expecting high attendance numbers.

I also used my time in New Orleans to get a feel for the environment; not just the host venue (Sheraton New Orleans), but also the neighborhood and other venues. This year, we’re looking to host a Meet and Mingle event at a venue that shares the excitement and vibrancy of the jazzy city so attendees have a chance to get a taste of “New Awlins” while in town.

I checked out a few wonderful offsite venue options – but, my lips are sealed as to where this year’s Meet and Mingle will take place – more information about the Meet and Mingle will be available soon! We will announce the location in both the website and newsletter at some point, so if you plan on attending, please make sure to visit the conference website frequently and sign up for the Alliance e-newsletter.