We have been particularly busy at congresses this year and with congress work comes the planning and running of engaging symposia. HCPs have been attending symposia for decades, but which ones do they turn up to and remember? Which ones do they rate most highly in their evaluation forms? What makes a symposium run smoothly and also stand out from the crowd at a large international meeting?
We spoke to Holly, our Senior Account Director, to hear her top tips for pulling off a seamless symposium…
It is never too early to start planning.
• Set up your trackers early; even if most of the fields are empty, you’ll thank yourself for saving valuable time formatting cells later!
• Ask speakers or faculty early enough for youto have back-ups if their availability doesn’t work for your dates.
• Make a note of everything you hear about the event; a faculty member’s holiday dates may be extremely useful information when you’re trying to push materials through review.
• Set realistic deadlines and plan multiple reminder emails too.
• Timelines are life. Set them, revise them, use them; every day.
With so many moving parts to monitor it’s easy to overlook minor details. Delegation and communication are the key to a strong event planning team!
• Status reports (both internal and external) are your bible.
• Create a team list and use it to divide and conquer projects, ensuring specific roles and responsibilities throughout the project timeline and onsite.
• Talk to your team, client and suppliers regularly. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
Be involved in the early stages of planning with the clients if possible. Use your experience to guide them and make the logistics easier for you and your team.
• Use suppliers you know and trust or take recommendations from your clients and set up face to face meetings where possible.
• Plan your staffing, what do you need and when, do they need uniforms/will sizing be required, are all the staff local, would a minibus be useful to transport them to the venue on time?
• A reliable A/V crew can be the difference between a great symposium and a stop-start day littered with technical issues.
At a large congress, there could be tens or even hundreds of symposia running over the course of a few days. To stand above the crowd, use the three I’s:
• Innovative – If you are not presenting something completely ‘new’, ensure that you cover current ‘hot topics’ to spark interest. Consider a different sort of room layout, use a novel format or new technology. There is always some way to make the session different.
• Involving – use interactivity to make your audience feel part of the session. This might involve using iPads or fun ways of voting (red and green cards might be simple, but they get people involved)
• Inviting – whatever the time of your session, make it a good experience for the delegates; welcome them into the room with a smile, make them feel that you are happy to see them there. This can make all the difference.
It wouldn’t be a great event if you weren’t faced with some unexpected hiccups. This is how we learn, come together and pull it out of the bag!
• Save all of your useful contacts, and print out a table of contact information for everyone on your team.
• Take spare phone chargers and adapters, in fact spares of everything possible. Imagine each piece of equipment NOT working on the day and think about what you would do.
• Make friends with your medical approver on site!
• Ensure you have made contact with all the people onsite that can help you with electrics, heat, light, furniture, moving things from A to B and special requests. It’s also useful to have pre-researched a local printer.
• Stay calm, there’s always a solution, but the sooner you know about an issue, the easier it is to sort it out.
emotive is an independent, award-winning global healthcare communications agency committed to changing lives by helping life science companies bring novel and innovative products to patients. We recognise that only true engagement can facilitate change and we use our combination of scientific, creative and technical expertise to stimulate optimal participation of all those in the care pathway.