The Conference Organisers' Guide to Jargon

Our Guide to Jargon

Understanding industry terminology is essential for conference organisers to stay on the same page and work with other industry professionals. Keep reading this guide from ACC Liverpool to learn some of the most important terms used by conference planners.

As a conference organiser, you’ve got a hundred and one things to consider with every event; from planning events years in advance, to liaising with different departments and industry members. All of this means it’s essential that you’re all on the same page - you don’t want to get your wires crossed and accidentally order something completely irrelevant to your conference.

To help you out, there is plenty of jargon and subject specific terms for conference organisers to learn on the job. But how do you learn these in the first place? Well, to help you out, the team at ACC Liverpool have put together a list of important terms we think conference planners should know.

In this article, we’ve split the terms into specific groupings according to theme and given a brief description of their meanings. This will help to make it easier to find the ones you’re looking for.

Event organiser specific terms

As event organisers, there are plenty of terms that will come up specifically during the course of your job. We’ve included some of the most common terms below for you to learn from.

  • Agenda - this is the set list of topics you discuss during a meeting, and is often distributed before or at the start of a meeting.
  • Approved caterers - many venues have a list of approved caterers who are allowed to work with their venue.
  • Attrition rate - this is the percentage of people who register but don’t attend an event, and is calculated by dividing the number of no-shows by the total registration figures. Some venues may have an attrition clause within their contract.
  • AV - this stands for Audio Visual and can be used as a generic term to describe the lighting and sound equipment for an event or conference.
  • B2B - this stands for Business to Business, and covers corporate or trade-related events and conferences.
  • B2C - this refers to Business to Consumer/Customer, and could cover events like consumer shows or ComicCon.
  • Back of the house - this refers to private areas that are not open to guests at a venue, for example, the kitchen and staff areas. See also, Back of house teams.
  • Banquet Event Order (BEO) - a BEO is an essential document that lists all the requirements of an event, and may also be known as a function sheet or event order. This tends to need client sign-off.
  • Break-out sessions - break-out sessions consist of smaller groups of people meeting about a topic. These are held separately to the main event or conference session. See also, Break-out rooms.
  • CAD drawings - CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design, and these drawings are essential for event planning. With a CAD drawing, you can easily explore and design different exhibition layouts, and create a detailed plan of your event in 2D or 3D.
  • Cancellation clause - as the name suggests, a cancellation clause clearly sets out the contractual obligations and penalties that can happen in case the event or conference is cancelled.
  • Central Reservation Service - a CRS is used by hotels to manage inventory and reservations in real time to be more efficient.
  • Concurrent sessions - if there is a packed conference schedule, you could include concurrent sessions, which are meetings themed around different topics held at the same time. Attendees then pick which they’re most interested in.
  • Confirmation - this is typically a verbal or written agreement that the event can take place.
  • Covers - this term is primarily used in catering to refer to the number of meals required during a sitting.
  • Early bird registration - this expression is used to describe offers and discounts that are exclusive to those who register early for an event. This could be via a cheaper ticket price, or extras like early entry.
  • F&B - this stands for Food & Beverage, and covers activities such as purchasing and preparation of drinks and meals before the event, as well as serving food, managing inventory, and any catering services you employ as an event planner.
  • Familiarisation trip - as conference organisers, you may choose to take a ‘fam trip’ to acquaint yourself with a venue in person.
  • Finishing kitchen - finishing kitchens are essential for mass-catered events. These are locations specifically set up to receive pre-prepared foods for reheating, portioning, plating, and serving.
  • In-house production - any AV and production equipment which is provided by the venue.
  • Itinerary - this is the events schedule for a conference, and can also be used to reference individual schedules for attendees.
  • Keynote address - this often opens an event or conference, and is a speech or presentation made to all attendees. The keynote address aims to set the tone for the rest of the event. See also, Keynote speaker.
  • Lead time - this is the time between when a conference organiser starts planning an event, and the delivery of it. Large events may have lead times of several years.
  • Load in/out - load in refers to the time you have for teams to get in and assemble equipment before the event, with load out happening at the end of an event as everything is disassembled.
  • MICE - this acronym stands for ‘Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions’ and is typically used to describe business events within the industry.
  • Multimedia - a multimedia approach uses multiple forms of AV equipment and systems - like sound, lighting, and presentations.
  • PA system - a PA, or Public Address, system is often employed at events for announcements and to share information. Using microphones, speakers and other AV equipment, a PA system allows you to communicate with a large audience at once.
  • Plenary - this is another word for the main conference session.
  • Poster session - typically as part of a science or medical conference, poster sessions allow researchers to present their findings for other attendees.
  • Press kit - press kits are often given out to members of the media attending an event, and have useful contact information, organisation guidelines, and press releases.
  • Shell scheme - this term is used to describe the framing for modular booth set ups. These can easily be reconfigured into different shapes and positions depending on the needs of the event and booth holder.


In reference to payment

Payment can be a tricky area, as you need to make absolutely sure that everyone understands what you mean. Using the appropriate conference planner jargon helps to eliminate any confusion, and make sure you can be confident in your financial planning.

  • Corkage - this refers to a fee charged by venues to allow conference organisers to bring in wine or other drinks.
  • Daily Delegate Rate (DDR) - the DDR is the rate a venue charges per delegate for a day at the venue, including room hire, lunch, and tea/coffee breaks.
  • Incidentals - conference organisers can use this to describe any miscellaneous costs that can’t be assigned elsewhere.
  • Master account - this is where the event charges are pulled from or deposited, and is the main pool of money to be used.
  • Prix fixe - this is a set price for a menu or product, with no substitutions.
  • Pro forma invoice - this is an advanced invoice that can be sent before delivery of an event.


People specific terms

Of course, it isn’t an event or conference without any people! With numbers ranging anywhere from 100 to 10,000 (and more!), it’s vital that you invite the correct people to your event and that they know and can fulfil their role in the proceedings. Below we’ve included some of the most important people that can be at your event.

  • Back of house teams - the back of house team is used to describe events staff who work behind the scenes, with less contact with attendees. For example, chefs and kitchen staff, or housekeeping members.
  • Delegate - a delegate describes a person attending a conference or event. They may also be called an attendee, or guest.
  • Facilitator - the facilitator presides over smaller groups sessions (like break out sessions) or panels. They may also be referred to as a moderator.
  • Keynote speaker - the keynote speaker delivers the keynote address, and is usually a well-known expert within the industry or academic field.
  • Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) - professional conference organisers are companies that specialise in organising events. They can offer assistance in completing tasks, putting decisions into practice, and have years of experience in the industry for you to draw on.


Venue terms

Lastly, we have listed a collection of venue specific terms that you need to know as an event organiser. Making sure the venue can support your conference is vital, as is understanding how to set it up for maximum comfort and efficiency.

  • Auditorium - this is a room with raked (sloped) seating, like a lecture hall.
  • Back projection - this can be used during presentations to project images from behind the stage onto a screen for delegates to see.
  • Boardroom layout - this layout allows small groups of people to sit around a table for discussions.
  • Break-out room - break-out rooms are smaller meeting rooms which people can use for group discussions away from the main session.
  • Cabaret layout - a cabaret layout uses round tables and allows everyone to face the front of the room.
  • Classroom layout - as the name suggests, this layout is made by having rows of tables and chairs facing the front of the room.
  • Front projection - unlike back projection, the projector is kept in front of the screen during a presentation.
  • Green room - this is a private space for speakers and performers to use when they’re not on the stage.
  • Theatre layout - this is where there are rows of chairs laid out before the stage, but with no tables.


Why is knowing conference terms important?

As we mentioned briefly above, understanding and using the same conference organiser jargon helps to make sure you’re communicating clearly with other teams or industry professionals. Even if you have company specific terms, understanding the overarching themes will help you achieve the results you’re looking for.

Additionally, knowing and using the same terms helps to keep reports and data collection consistent - so you can plan for future conferences using previous resources.


Plan your next event with ACC Liverpool

If you’re looking to plan your next conference, get in contact with the ACC Liverpool team to learn why our venue could be the best one for you. In the meantime, why not explore our Sustainability pledge, or browse our Connected Campus and take the Virtual Tour of our venue to learn more?

Or, find plenty of advice and information via our Resources hub. Plus, we have the latest ACC Liverpool News to keep you up-to-date with our fantastic site.


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