Tips For A Successful Conference

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | Conference Room | Tips For A Successful ConferenceIf organisation is not your strong point then planning a conference can be particularly tricky. You need to start off with a vision and then carefully implement steps along the way in order to reap success. The trouble is that a lot of people don’t know where to start and they struggle with direction. If only you had a step by step guide that could see you through. Well, now you do! Read on to make your conference planning a lot easier.

What is your vision?

First of all, you need to be clear about your vision. What is the purpose of your conference? What is the message you are trying to convey? Never ever lose sight of this. Every part of the organisation needs to be central to your main goal. When you find a venue for example, you need to think; is this the perfect place for a conference on *subject A*, rather than is the venue fancy and stylish. Develop your purpose into a vision – how many people do you want to reach? When do you want this conference to take place? And so on and so forth. You cannot plan anything effectively without set targets in mind.

The budget

So you have your targets, but do you have the budget? In truth; as long as your aims aren’t ridiculously unrealistic, then any target can be met. In the current day and age it is all about searching, comparing, and hunting down the best deals. But set a budget in mind nonetheless – this is crucial. Then roughly estimate how much money is going to be dedicated to what areas. You’ll need to do your research in order to find figures for the average price range of things, such as; venue hire, equipment, and so on and so forth.

Purchasing process

You now have a clear focus; your goals and the means you have to achieve them. Now you need to begin the purchase process. Start with your venue. There are some great and diverse conference venues. You should search on the internet in order to unearth locations meeting the requirements you have set. Once you have got the venue and date sorted you can begin with invitations, equipment hire, and other aspects you may need, such as catering.

Venue

When you search for the perfect venue for your conference, there are lots of factors you need to consider. You want to ensure that the venue you select is impressive. You want to ensure that the venue is fully equipped with everything you need and that you get to hire it for a reasonable price. Nevertheless, one thing you must consider, that has a knock-on impact on everything else, is where the venue is situated.

Before you even begin to look for a conference venue, you should make a list of all of those who are going to be invited to the occasion. Get yourself a map and write each person’s initials on the area they are based. This will help you to determine a central location that would be easy for all of your guests to get to. After all, you do not want to pick somewhere resulting in a long drive for your attendees. This may deter your guests from even making the journey – let’s be realistic; not everybody wants to drive for several hours for business.

In addition to this, don’t take for granted the fact that not everybody drives. You need to pick somewhere easily accessible via public transport. Most cities are generally good for this. Nevertheless, you should make sure that the venue is within walking distance from the nearest public transport drop off point. This is all about convenience. At the end of the day, if your guests have had to experience a long hike in order to get to your venue then they are going to turn up in a bad mood, and that is the last thing you want when trying to impress.

The day itself

All the initial plans and organisation have now been put into place. You can zoom in on the day itself now. This is all of the little particular points that you shouldn’t forget. Make sure your guests know where to go to when they get to the venue. Make sure you have refreshments on offer. Don’t forget to practise your presentation in front of other people. You can make powerful presentations using Beautiful.AI. Make sure you familiarise yourself with where the disabled access is. Visit the venue and visualise where you are going to set everything up. All these little aspects are underestimated but vital in the grand scheme of things.

If you use this guide then you are bound to have a smoother organisation of your conference. Outline your goal, set your budget, find conference venues, get your equipment, and then deal with the finishing touches.

Specialist Or Generalist: Pros & Cons

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |specialist or generalist|Specialist Or Generalist: Pros & ConsIf you run a service based business or are planning to set one up at some point, then one of the key things you’re going to need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to position yourself as a specialist or a generalist.

Whilst there’s certainly no right or wrong because every business is unique and has different goals, it’s one of those things you should try to establish right at the beginning because you’ll need to be able to know how to market yourself effectively and you can only do this once you know what your positioning will be.

The thing will the specialist versus generalist argument is that people really have strong opinions on each side and as well meaning as they may be when trying to advise you on which path to take, this can really lead to you making a decision that’s not quite right for you, so in this post we’re going to share with you some pros and cons for each option, so that you can make the best decision for you.

Specialist:

  • Less competition: One of the main reasons that people often give when deciding whether or not to specialize in a specific area is that they’re afraid of limiting themselves and think they’ll have less chances to find clients, but the opposite is actually true and when you specialize, then you narrow yourself down to clients who are looking for your specific skills and who will happily pay more for your experience.
  • More money: Specialists in general will always have more earning potential because of the time, money and energy they’ve invested into their professional development, so if you have bigger financial goals and want to earn what you feel you’re worth, then positioning yourself as a specialist instead of a generalist is definitely going to be more advantageous financially for you.
  • Better clients: When it comes to clients, whilst it’s certainly not the case that all of them who are looking for specialists will be paying well, and those looking for generalists don’t have as much of an interest in hiring people based on value versus price, this is unfortunately often the case. The good clients who know what your services are truly worth are typically looking for people who are highly specialized in a certain area – for example, if you focus on a specialized part of the medical industry or you’re a copywriter who knows all there is to know about an electroplater.

Generalist:

  • More variety: Of course, being a generalist certainly has its good points, namely that if you’re someone who gets bored easily by working on the same type of stuff day after day, then being a generalist could be the right choice for you because there’s so much variety in the types of things you’ll be working on. This can be especially true for those who are in creative fields such as writing or design.
  • Easier to niche down later: Sometimes picking a niche to specialize in doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it takes a bit of time to find your true passion and your zone of genius, so if you’re not quite sure yet then working as a generalist for a while could be a good strategy to help you get experience in different areas and find what you want to focus on eventually.

The Best Ways to Prepare for Retirement

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | The Best Ways to Prepare for RetirementRetirement can be daunting, especially when considering a pension at the start of your working life. However, with the right preparation, you can make retirement a simple and relaxing process, devoid of money worries and other concerns that you will want to leave behind in the working world.

Your Workplace’s Pension Scheme

Firstly, you should ensure that you auto-enroll in your companies’ pension scheme, where possible. Although it may be tempting to opt out and receive the extra money now, employers contribute 0.8% of their gross income into your pension scheme. In the long run, this means that you benefit extensively by waiting to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Your Home’s Equity

Many people would suggest that relying on your home’s equity in retirement is a good idea. However, although a popular way to gain extra money during retirement, there are both negatives and benefits to releasing your home’s equity for this purpose. Instead, it is best to save beforehand and ensure that you are already prepared for retirement by the time your working life is over.

Save Throughout Your Life

Although your quarter-life crisis may seem too soon to start saving for your distance future, the best way to prepare for retirement is to start saving as soon as possible. Whether this is your first pay-check or a little bit later, saving early can give you the best rates on compound interest which can drastically increase your retirement fund.

For instance, if you save £100 a month over 40 years rather than double that amount over 20, you can make almost £48,000 more in interest.

Prepare for a State Pension

Although state pensions may feel as if you are being paid back for your hard work, state pensions only provide you with £115 a week to live on, which can be difficult if you are paying rent and other bills alongside this. You may also have to wait longer than expected for this, with the age correlating to current life expectancy, which means that the boundaries are constantly changing. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have multiple funds to support you in your old age by starting an independent pension fund.

Check Your Pension’s Performance

Next, you should always check your pension’s performance to ensure that it is growing at the pace which you expect. Many pension schemes can change over time and affect the amount that you are putting away, and so ensuring that you track your pension’s performance over time is important to prepare for your retirement.

Compare the Best Annuities

The best annuities can often be found on the open market than through your current provider. Although many people rush into buying an annuity with their pension company, there are often 60% differences in annuity rates between the best and worst annuities available, meaning that it is important to look around for the best one.
For more pension advice, contact Portafina, or follow their social media on Portafina’s Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.

Disclaimer: The above information is not financial advice. For any financial decisions you need to make, please talk to a qualified financial advisor.

Getting Things Done: The Golden Rules Of Productivity

It should be fairly straightforward, right? You come into work in the morning, do whatever is needed to be done to complete the tasks before you, and then go home at the end of the day. Job complete! Except it isn’t that easy. We aren’t all as productive us as we should be, and work is often less unfinished come close of business. It can be frustrating, especially if we are then forced to work overtime as a result.

Here then, are what we have termed the Golden Rules of Productivity. By adhering to each principle, you should, as our title suggested, stand a better chance of getting things done.

Rule #1: Prioritise your day

There will be some tasks that need to be completed during the day, and others that can wait until a later date. Therefore, focus on the most important tasks first, and only when they are done, focus on the other things. This way, you won’t run the risk of having to stay behind at work to complete those tasks that come with a deadline. Continuing with this principle, consider doing those jobs that you hate first too. While they will be a drag, you will be less inclined to procrastinate if you make an effort to get them out of the way first. You will then have more time to concentrate on the other tasks that are on your to-do lists.

Rule #2: Simplicity is king

Don’t get bogged down with tricky or time-consuming tasks throughout the day. If you can find a way to simplify your business tasks, then do so. There are some ideas in the linked article, for example, with descriptions of software tools that are designed to deal with some of those tasks that you might need to focus on during the day. And there are hundreds of other apps and programs available that are designed to streamline your day and boost your productivity. Do your research and download anything that could help you manage your workload.

Rule #3: Focus on your strengths

It is highly unlikely that you are competent at every task that befalls you each day. And even if you are, there will be some tasks that could be handled by others. Therefore, concentrate your time on those tasks that a) you have the skills to complete, and b) that directly fall under your remit. Then outsource or delegate any other aspect of your business that would only slow down your productivity otherwise. Thinking about your IT, as an example, you could hire an IT consultant if you aren’t proficient or don’t have time to concentrate on this one area. A company such as Ntiva gives you more time to focus on core business functions, as they have the expertise that you might otherwise lack. Think about the tasks that take up your time unnecessarily, and find the people to help you.

Rule #4: Take a break

By working extensively without any breaks, you will tire yourself out, both physically and mentally. As a result, your productivity will suffer, as your lethargy will cause you to work and think slower than normal. During the day then, plan to have a break at regular intervals so you are always in peak condition to work. And the same applies at home. If you are always taking work home with you, you will limit the amount of time you get to rest. Your sleep might then suffer, and when you return to work the next day, you might get less done because you are in a tired and exhausted state. Focus on your work-life balance, and enjoy your downtime so you can be fully refreshed when you’re back at work.

Rule #5: Just say “no”

When a colleague wanders over to have a chat with you, say no if you know you have work to do. When a client offers you more work, say no if you know you won’t have time to complete it on time, or to a quality level. When you are tempted to check Facebook or any other time-wasting activity, tell yourself no, as these innocent activities will only eat into your time otherwise. There are times when you might say yes to improve your productivity. If somebody offers you a helping hand, then do answer in the positive if you can rely on them. But in all of those instances that could stop you from getting things done, just say no!

Final word

Adhere to the rules in this article, and you will stand a better chance at getting things done in the day. You might then have the opportunity to go home and relax, instead of taking your work home with you, or worrying about anything that has been left unfinished.

Let us know what you think, and if there are any other rules that should be added to this list, please share your ideas with us.

How to Improve Your Future Prospects

StrategyDriven Practices for Professional Article |Life Skills| How to Improve Your Future ProspectsOne of the many things teenagers worry about it is their future, and how successful it is going to be. This can be a very stressful experience for you, but there are lots of things you can do that will help improve your life skills, finances, and chances of having a very successful career and future.

Scholarships

Many young people who want to go to college are hoping to be offered a scholarship. Not only will this take away the stress of debt piling up, but you can do what you love while away at college, for example, play football or baseball.

There are over 25 different athlete scholarships available which can pay you up to $40,000 per year of your college fees. The first thing you will want to do to secure your scholarship is to make a video to send to colleges; you need to make sure this video shows what you can do to the best of your abilities. Your skills are going to need to stand out so take this video seriously. This is what coaches at colleges will be judging you on and will make the difference between the score and ultimately the kind of scholarship you get.
It’s important to remember that even if you get offered a scholarship not to forget about your school studies. You will need the grades to get into college, and if you don’t keep up a good enough standard in college, then your scholarship will be taken away. So, make sure you prioritize your homework just as much as your sport.

Get a Part-time Job

Something that benefits many young people who are looking to improve their future is by getting a part-time job. Not only will this show future employers and colleges that you are keen to work it also improves your skill set.

It can give you leadership and teamworking skills, and you will learn how to multi-task with your school work, your hobbies and your work life which is what being an adult is about just as much sometimes. Getting a job will teach you lots of life skills that you wouldn’t have learned anywhere else such as communication skills and will make you stand out amongst your peers, plus it gives you the chance to have a bit of extra cash.

Delegate your time wisely

While you may be thinking about your financial future, having a part-time job shouldn’t mean it takes over your life completely. It is called part-time for a reason, and it means you should be able to get the right balance between your work, school, and home life. So, if you find yourself neglecting your school work because you are working more hours than you originally planned, it might be worth considering re-looking at how you spend your time and speaking to your manager about cutting back your hours.

Set up Goals

To keep in line for your future, setting achievable goals is key to remaining focused on what you want to achieve in life. These goals should be realistic to reach and need to be written down so that you can refer to them and change or update them.

Savings Account

Something that you might find that your parents have done for you is set up a savings account or a trust fund that you will be able to access when you turn 18. This will benefit you a lot so make sure you spend this money wisely – consider if you actually need the money yet, if you don’t then save it for when you will need and appreciate it.
Don’t worry if your parents haven’t set up one; there’s no need to panic as you can start a savings account at any time. There’s always time to save, and so if you get a scholarship and have a part-time job, you can start saving to make your future after college more secure.

Believe in Yourself

The most important thing for your future that you need to start doing right now is believing in yourself! Once you believe in yourself, you can do anything, and you will see yourself becoming more confident and will go on to have a very successful future.