Organising large events presents a unique challenge, that requires a special type of person, that’s for sure. At AS&K we are lucky enough to have more than our fair share.
While each event is a unique educational experience for participants, we’ve noticed there are some common features when it comes to event planning, and these are the learnings our exception team has managed to master.
- Event planning is complex. The bigger the event, the more factors there are to figure out. From ensuring educational objectives are met to getting speakers on board and caterers arranged, the list of requirements for a large educational event is long. Make sure you don’t underestimate the size of the task and the resources required to get everything done.
- Make the event truly memorable. Innovative session formats, clever use of technology, striking branding – all of these things help to create a better experience for participants. The core template of event formats is tried and tested, but adding some creative thinking to this backbone can go a long way. While it’s the educational content that will make a difference to participants own clinical practice, they’ll absorb it better and will remember it for longer if their experience is more engaging. So think outside the box, but also think practically.
- Planning is crucial. Plans need to be made early, even if they may (and will) change. Booking venues and making sure speakers are available is particularly important, and so is being prepared for plans to change, and ensuring contingencies are in place. Planning for possible disruptions early means capacity to deal with unforeseen last-minute changes closer to the event. Only by thinking ahead and planning for every outcome will you put yourself in a position where you will be able to deal with the inevitable last-minute curve-balls that nobody could have predicted.
- Things will change. Despite those best-laid plans, things are likely to have changed significantly by the time the event comes around. Adaptability is key to ensuring everything runs smoothly during the event.
- A great team is essential. To make an event that really stands out, you need creativity, attention to detail, strategic thinking and collaboration. The best events have the best teams behind them – both internally, and with external collaborators.Within the agency you need people who will support each other, step in when things get busy, are prepared to offer opinions about what does and doesn’t work, and who are prepared to drop what they’re doing at a moment’s notice to help out when things get difficult - and they will get difficult. Next, having good collaboration with people outside the agency is vital. You need to make sure that your initial plans are in line with the vision of your academic steering committee and your client (if your event is not CME accredited), and that your plans for delivering the event are clear and in alignment with all of the external parties involved.
- The goal is to make it look easy. As event organisers, if we’ve done our job well no one will notice we’ve done any work at all. Everything goes well and seems right, natural, organic and simple. It looks easy. That’s why planning and making contingencies is vital, as is the ability to think on your feet under pressure, especially when something happens that you couldn’t have prevented.
- Events are a great educational tool. Is there a substitute for giving doctors the chance to meet lauded experts, learn about best clinical practice and discuss their questions? Well-delivered events stay with participants for all the right reasons. If the educational content of the meeting can be used as enduring material this will add value for participants and make the event even more worthwhile.
Event organisation is challenging, but ultimately worthwhile. Bringing together experts from all over the world and giving them the best atmosphere in which to exchange information and learn from their peers ensures the greatest benefits for all participants. Ultimately the goal is improved outcomes for patients, and the better an event is organised the greater these benefits will be.
Need help with event planning? Get in touch and one of our team will be happy to discuss your options.