The Blog

How To Run A 2 Day Conference

by Leonie Dawson on April 7, 2016

Shining Academy Retreat I Canberra i 2016

Hi loves,

End of Feb I ran a 2 day conference for my Academy members.

It ended up going incredibly well, with hugely positive feedback, with lots of people sharing that it was a truly world-class event.

It was run seamlessly, and I thought I would share with you some hints and tips on running a powerful & beautifully-run event.

Canberra Photographer

Get an event manager

That right there is the number one reason why our event ran smoothly, on time & was quite the joyful experience.

Sonya my COO was our events manager. She had lots of experience in running events in the past.

As a teacher, you do NOT want to be managing the event, logistics, contractors, registration & all the myriad event kerfuffles that pop up.

You should be focussing totally on teaching.

Because of the size of the conference, our events manager also had an assistant to work our attendee registration desk, get speakers miked up, help with stuffing gift bags, do event set up and clean up, and even pat my head and sing “Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty” to me. MWAHAHAHAHA. #priorities


Create a run sheet

Sone had our event timed down to the last minute, and she ran it on time like a damn pro.

Nobody likes for events to run over time.

Nobody likes for speakers to drone on and onnnnnn and cut into lunch time.


Even if you like to be a fluid teacher (like me), it’s so important to have structure around your day to make sure you keep your attendees’ needs taken care of. They need water, food, toilet breaks & clear-the-head breaks.

At least a month out from running the event, Sonya had bedded down our event run sheet, including the all-important rest breaks. We had the run sheet plastered everywhere for speakers to see, and Sonya gave us the wind up hand signals when it was time to end sessions.

You can also have monitors on stage to give you countdown times as well.

Shining Retreat

Brand your space with roll banners

When it comes to creating an event, it can really help to “brand” your event by using signage.

We ordered three wide pop-up banners in addition to one I already had.

It turned an otherwise normal looking space into a very “Leonie” looking one.

Canberra Photographer

Instagram banner

During one of those late night internet shopping sessions that I am apt to do, I bought a large Instagram selfie stand.


Totally worth it and totally awesome.

Canberra Photographer

Gift bags

We had gift bags printed up in advance through Grenada Promotions.

We included in them:

We also let all of our Academy members send in gift vouchers, discount vouchers & goodies.

Some of the most gorgeous gifts in there were:

Everything had to be sent to me before the conference began, and our team stuffed the bags the day before the conference.

Staff Uniform

Canberra Photographer

Our staff running the retreat all wore uniforms so our attendees knew who to turn to for help.

We got some polo shirts printed up with a unicorn.

Because DERRRRRP. #required

Outfits & Hair

Canberra Photographer

I think I got this shirt at a shop somewhere three years ago. Skirt from Tantrika two years ago.

As far as outfits go, my style statement would be:

Comfort, comfort, comfort.

I changed clothes during lunch every day just so I didn’t feel like a sweatyballsack all day.

I didn’t get my hair blow dried or shit like that because it honestly seemed like too much shit to deal with. Maybe I will in the future. Or maybe I’ll just keep doing the mermaid.

Canberra Photographer

Mermaid flapper dress. Found it at one of those women’s dress shops. Maybe suzanne grae? I don’t know. It was in the Tuggeranong Hyperdome. I bought it for the Australian Business Woman of the Year awards night.

Worn with Boody bamboo leggings. And a cardigan from Kmart. I think.

Gawd I’m an amazzzzing fashion blahhhgerrrrrrrrrrrr.

Canberra Photographer

Top from Just Gorgeous Kuranda. Skirt by one of our Academy members Sunny Daisy Tie Dye (who was there! at the event! and we wore matching clothes on the regular!) SQUEEEEE!

This outfit I did buy especially for the event! Me & my darling women’s circle mentor Deb went for a ROOOOAD TRIPPPPPP to Bird’s Nest boutique store (they are an amazing online clothes shop that started in a small town not far from me). This dress was from the Globetrotter by Ruby Yaya range.

Totally stunning dress. I should say – the whole range IS polyester.

I was super wary of it – I tend to wear all-natural fabrics. I was worried I’d get too sweaty or staticy in this dress. But it ended up being quite comfortable to wear. So… WINNAH!




Canberra Photographer


Venue and Catering: The Abbey, Canberra

I cannot say enough good things about The Abbey. They were an absolute joy to work with and took care of us so well.

Plus, the space is fucking next level beautiful. Absolutely STUNNING, with an incredible energy.

Photographers: Tracy Lee Photography

I’d used Tracy before for our 2016 workbook collection photoshoot and adored her. She was an easy choice, and she did a beautiful job of all our event photography.


We hired in a professional videographer crew to record the whole event for our Academy members. Unfortunately due to their lack of customer service I’m not able to recommend them.

Audio: Infinite Light and Sound

Infinite supplied all audio gear and our projector, and provided audio technicians to manage sound throughout the whole event. They were fantastic and did a great job.

Some more big lessons I learned from running this conference!

You don’t have to teach it all yourself

I’ve held off from running a large-scale conference in the past because I didn’t want to teach by myself for two days straight. I’ve got a pretty weak throat that konks out pretty quickly while talking.

This time around, to make it doable for me, I had a co-presenter on stage with me at all times, and I also invited extra guest teachers who I knew and loved and respected to share their wisdom as well.

Denise Duffield-Thomas taught an awesome session on abundance and money blocks. I’ve known DDT for four years now – she attended a retreat I ran in the rainforest, and we’ve been business-sisters & mastermind-buddies ever since. This woman walks her talk like nothing else… in all the time I’ve known her, and as close-up as I have, she has been impeccable and authentic and always, always brilliant. I believe she is hands-down the best teacher on law of attraction in the world, and brings love, warmth & realness to the work of manifesting. If you haven’t already, you should be reading her books & applying her principles because HOT DAMN THEY WORK.

(Little known fact… we decided to have a “Conception Competition” to see how fast we could get pregnant. She beat me by six days! Ha! Our daughters Beth & Willow were in the womb together… it was especially sweet when they finally got to meet in real life. We reckon they were friends on the other side and decided to jump in on the two of us.)

Check out Denise’s session here!

Canberra Photographer

Kerry Rowett (my favourite kinesiologist) taught some powerful energetic practices to help you get over your stucknesses, align to your goals and create them faster. Kerry was another old coaching client of mine from four years ago who I loved working with to help her business grow. She is such an earth angel with bright, clear energy and a real gift. I started using her (and even sending staff to her) to clear blocks & achieve goals. It was so lovely to meet her in person for the first time after knowing her online for so long!

See Kerry’s session here!

Canberra Photographer

Gini Eagle, my dear friend, came in to lead yoga at the beginning of each day for everyone to start feeling refreshed and energised and grounded in their bodies. I’ve know and loved Gini for years, and we’ve shared some truly special, sacred moments together, especially out at her Ingelara Retreat. She was my reiki master that led me through my reiki attunements during a truly magical weekend. She has the most beautiful energy and I am SO glad that I got to share her with all our attendees.

Canberra Photographer

Melissa Prince led a meditation, and also held a sacred women’s circle for our conference attendees during the evening. Mel is a magical human being with a lot of love and integrity in leading women’s work, and I was overjoyed that she flew over the country to teach. And I love that she was able to include elements into the conference that I would have led but just couldn’t because there’s only so much physical energy I have. I love that our women still got to experience that energy, that it didn’t need to run off all my own energy and that Mel could do it instead!

It was a win for everyone involved!

Fill your own well with body work

The night before the conference, I heard from an acupuncturist/body worker Indira from Sacred Health letting me know she’d be happy to do a session for me before I went on stage the next morning. I said HECK YEAHHHHHHH! It helped me so very much to ground and fill up my own well before I went on stage. I got her to come back the following morning for more because I found it so useful. A definite energy booster!

I’ll definitely look at having some kind of bodyworker backstage from now on.

Canberra Photographer

Have boundaries

I’ve learned the hard way before that as much as I want to do EVERYTHING and be involved in EVERY SINGLE MOMENT for EVERY SINGLE PERSON, it’s really not the best way for me to hold energy.

I NEED to have time and space and rest away from people to refuel my energy when I’m not on stage.

I decided to sleep at home (only 30 minutes drive away) during the event. I had other staff stay onsite to manage everything. It was actually wonderful and grounding to be able to drive home, have dinner with husby and kids, lay on the couch and just have normal routine at night. It definitely helped my energy levels as an introvert.

When I was at the conference, I made sure I had a longer session of rest over the lunch break, and either took a nap in the green room or went to one of my team’s hotel rooms just to chill in the quiet.

My energy levels were actually pretty great at the end of the two days which I was surprised by – but it goes to show that a little bit of structure and support can go a LONG way!

Canberra Photographer

All in all, I’m really proud of what we were able to achieve, and ecstatic at the feedback we got from attendees!

What’s next?

I will be running the Shining Academy conference again next year in Canberra for all our Academy members. I’d like to make this an annual event, it’s such a beautiful thing to meet face-to-face and connect heart-to-heart.

At this stage, I won’t be running large-scale conferences like this outside of Canberra. So if you’re wanting to come, you’ll need to come to my beautiful city. Distance is no excuse – we had attendees from Scotland & USA. And we’ll release dates as soon as we can so you can get it all booked into your calendars!

I so hope this post has been useful for you in planning your events!

I’ve definitely made mistakes over the years when I haven’t created enough structure and support around live events. I’m so delighted with the flow of what we could achieve together this year… and am delighted to look at ways we can bring even more magic in for future events!

May all your events be a beautiful container of your wisdom and love.

So much love and joy and awkwardly long cuddles,


by Leonie Dawson on March 24, 2016

WELL! Fuck a duck!

Look at me getting out and about!
The hermit is outta the hills and gettin’ out in the world!

I’ll be the keynote speaker at TWO events in Canberra in the next few weeks!

13 April: Canberra Business in Heels

19 April: Canberra Wellness Hub

At both events, I’ll be speaking honestly about the journey of building a multi-million dollar company, how I’ve become a best-selling author, the mistakes I see business owners making + I’ll also doing Q&A sessions.

Come see me! Come play! Come have inappropriately long cuddles!

See you there… my arms will be waiting… HA!
Big love,

Small Promo Image

Hola dearests,

The late bird catches the worm…
We’re giving you a free ticket to our webinar!!!

How To Use Masterminds To Accelerate Your Biz: The Do’s + Don’ts You Need To Know

I have been a part of masterminds for about 7 years. I honestly count them as being essential to my success. I absolutely would NOT have gotten as far and as fast as I have without them.

They are the places I’ve gotten:

  • free business advice
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I’ve been part of great ones. Crap ones. Paid ones. Free ones. During this call, I’ll tell you all I have learned in the last 7 years. What works. What doesn’t. And how to get the mastermind you need to go faster and further in your business.

Screenshot of webinar

During the call you’ll learn:

  • Exactly how to grow your business exponentially using masterminds.
  • How to get the most out of any mastermind (paid or free) instead of it just being a big old waste of your time.
  • When masterminds go bad: When you need to exit + how to do it gracefully.
  • The systems + structures you need in your mastermind in order for it to work.
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Tuesday, September 29th – 2:30pm US PT
Wednesday, September 30th – 7:30am AUS ET

Will it be recorded?

Yes! You will get it as long as you have registered for free here.

See you there, care bear!

Can’t wait to share what I know!

Big love and light,

Promo Webinar


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