The annual conference is often the first, and sometimes only, in-person contact your members have with your organization. In addition to providing an exceptional overall attendee experience, it’s important that the educational sessions reflect your organization’s standards for quality, integrity and originality. Particularly if your association frequently competes for members’ attention with less discerning free or low-cost resources found through an internet search.
Some organizations have modified their call for abstracts process to ensure submissions are of the highest quality, and to help weed out those that aren’t. Here are a few examples:
Charge a submission fee
While submission fees can help generate some added revenue for the conference, fees are usually modest enough to have little impact on overall revenue. Many organizations use it simply to discourage submissions from those who are simply “phishing” for any available opportunity. Some find that it also encourages more thoughtful, thorough and complete submissions from even the most legitimate authors.
Limit per-author submissions
Some planners have instituted a limit on the total number of abstracts one author can submit, ensuring they present only their best work for consideration. Others set limits within their abstract management system that prevents a speaker from starting a new submission until their previous submission is complete.
Use plagiarism detection tools
The internet has made it easier to access, and in some cases “borrow” previously published work. As a result, more and more organizations are turning to plagiarism detection tools such as iThenticate as part of their submission review process. Some abstract management systems (such as CATALYST) can integrate directly with iThenticate, using essentially a one-click process to upload abstracts and papers to their database from within the submission form. Results are returned to the conference planner within minutes.
Top-notch event content is one the most important elements your conference can provide. Making some simple changes to your abstract submission process can help ensure you receive the high-quality materials that reflect your organization’s reputation. Not only will great content help generate interest in your next event, but over the long term, it will continue to reinforce your position as the go-to resource for your industry.
Facilitating a call for papers can be a challenging experience. Between managing submissions, coordinating with reviewers and selecting the best content for your conference, it’s no wonder event planners often cite this as one of the most difficult parts of putting on an event. All of these tasks, however, take place after your call is open and you begin receiving papers from potential speakers. But you may be wondering, “How do I promote my call for papers to make sure I receive the best possible submissions in the first place?”
Unfortunately, there is no single technique to make sure all potential presenters are aware of your event. Instead, the most effective way to find new contributors is to promote your call for papers in as many ways as possible. This is especially important if you are putting on a new event, or interested in bringing your attendees back year after year.
Here are 10 things that you can do to create a larger pool of potential contributors for your next event.
Place eye-catching buttons, images or banners in multiple places on your website that explain the opportunities you have for presenters at your upcoming event. The homepage, previous and/or current event pages and upcoming event page are excellent locations to place these buttons. Be sure to include a link that takes visitors directly to the collection website.
Send emails to your mailing lists announcing your call for papers and include a link to the collection website. While it’s a good idea to send out at least one email entirely devoted to your call for papers, you should also mention it and include a link to the submission page in other email communications. One great mailing list to target is contributors from previous years who did not make the cut.
Ask your coworkers to include a brief description of the event and the collection URL in their employee email signatures. This information can also be shared in a P.S. line, which typically grabs the reader’s attention.
Share information–and most importantly, a link!–to your call for papers submission page on Twitter, Facebook and your association’s LinkedIn Profile and Events pages. Vary your posts and use different images to avoid being too repetitive and annoying your followers.
It’s also a good idea to ask your followers to share or retweet your messages to get the word out. Encourage your team and
industry advocates to participate by using their personal social media accounts to pass the info along.
Write an article about your call for papers for your association’s blog and include a link to your paper submission site. Creating a quick, 60-second YouTube video encouraging authors to participate can also help promote your call for papers.
Conference Directory Sites
Add information about your event and call for papers to multiple conference directory sites. These sites compile open calls for papers and make it easy for industry professionals to discover presentation opportunities.
Here are some popular conference directories:
WikiCFP – a listing for calls for papers (and workshops and journals) that is completely free to use. This site is quite popular with the IT and Engineering specialties.
Due to the amount of clutter online, direct mail pieces are a great way to get the attention of potential presenters. Send out postcards with the event information and invite the recipient to participate in your call for papers.
Your newsletter subscribers are industry professionals. Tap into their expertise by including information about your call for papers and a direct link to the submission page. This doesn’t have to take up a lot of space—a sentence or two, or a small advertisement will suffice.
At Your Event
If your submission site for next year’s event is ready during your current conference, advertise your future event information and direct your audience to the new submission website. Try using signage, attendee handouts or announcements to notify potential speakers.
In Your Final Program and Attendee Products
Include information for your next call for papers on your handouts, website, mobile app or on the flash drive you give to every attendee (or sell after the event). Also advertise the location where presenters can submit materials on your archive or post-conference websites.
Getting more people to pay attention to your website and submit their papers or abstracts helps ensure you have a variety of quality content to provide to your attendees. Following just a few of these tips should increase awareness of your call for papers and create a pool of talented professionals for your selection committee. And, if you’re short on qualified reviewers, most of these tips can work for enticing them to assist you, as well!
What other methods have you used to promote your call for papers? Let us know in the comments!
Designed for meeting planners, by meeting planners.
CATALYST is such an exciting announcement for us to share with the meeting planner community because they have played such an important role in designing it.
We’ve been helping associations bring remarkable content to their conferences over the past 40 years. During this time, we’ve learned what they need in a collection system to be successful. We’ve also seen how their submitters use it (or don’t use it…until the last minute!). These insights began shaping CATALYST long before the first line of code was ever written. It truly is designed to help meeting planners collect the educational content for their conferences because their experiences designed it.
The excitement is contagious!
We’ve also seen a lot of excitement from meeting planners themselves as they experience a demo of CATALYST for the first time. Their excitement comes when they that see a time-consuming, manual task they dread doing every year now can be automated. What was once “that’s just the way it is,” suddenly becomes “that’s not the way is has to be.”
Or maybe their excitement comes when they see that the new interface and forms are much more intuitive than in their old system. That means that they will be spending less time on answering support questions from confused submitters. Even simple things like having individual log-ins and automated password resets have a tendency to bring out an “Oh, that’s great!” response from veteran planners.
See for yourself.
The video above is just the beginning of how CATALYST can help you bring high-quality educational content to your conference. Drop us a line and we’d be happy to talk with you about how CATALYST could improve your specific process. We can also schedule a time to walk you through all that the system is capable of.
When you think about it, other than the manual, repetitive tasks you dread doing, what do you have to lose?
Everyone needs help making life a little easier. We read articles about life hacks, how to save time and money, and work/life balance. In the office and out, we have become obsessed with making the most of our time.
When it comes to your annual meeting, there’s an easy solution that goes a long way to simplify the collection, review, and distribution of event content. Work with Omnipress for your entire event content process, from the initial call for papers through all of the outputs your association offers—conference printing, a mobile event app, posters, CDs/USBs, and/or an event content website.
This event content hack—working with Omnipress for collection—makes life easier for both your association and for us.
We have processes and teams in place to take care of your project from start to finish. We have configured our company to handle just this issue—what we do best is meet all of your event content needs under one roof.
More importantly, beginning with collection and continuing through distribution with Omnipress is easy for you, too. You have one vendor to call when you have questions or problems to address. Internal communication between Omnipress employees means you don’t have to be responsible for keeping the teams on the same page, literally or figuratively.
There are plenty of reasons to choose Omnipress for collection on its own merits. Our system is easy to navigate and user-friendly for all parties—submitters, reviewers, and association staff.
Collect all types of files and get the information you need from potential speakers upfront, including not only the abstracts or papers, but also bios, photos, release forms, A/V requirements, and more.
Control your review process with a configurable system that allows you to manually or automatically assign submissions to reviewers. You can also create review forms to help codify the scoring system your reviewers use.
Manage the collection process at the association level. You can decide which fields and data you wish to use, communicate with submitters and reviewers within the system, create custom reports, and create a schedule based on the excepted presentations.
It’s not too late to streamline your event content process. Step 1: Trust Omnipress to handle event content delivery for your association, beginning with collection. It’s a life hack that can have a real impact on your day-to-day activities.
As conference season draws near, abstracts are coming in left and right. Having more content to choose from is a good thing, but if your process doesn’t have much forethought behind it, too many papers can spell disaster for your review process.
Your review team is a busy bunch; they get annoyed with inefficient systems. They don’t have time to get lost in endless email conversations and wonder what need to be done and what has been handled already by other members of the team (or even themselves).
Their intentions—to find the best topics and speakers for your conference—are good, but the system is too cumbersome. Even your best reviewers are wondering if they’ll be able to put in the time to work with you next year. How can you simplify the process so it’s not too difficult and time-consuming for your team? Is there a way to get the information you need while making the process easier on others?
Abstract management is a multi-faceted process that requires a comprehensive, robust system to handle all the demands. For all intents and purposes, emailing abstracts out to individual reviewers and expecting them to keep track of the progress isn’t going to cut it. Odds are, one or more of the reviewers will get confused about the process, and your association staff will end up resending many documents and following up with reviewers daily. It’s clunky, and a big waste of your association staff time.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Omnipress has an abstract management tool that will solve these problems, once and for all. An online system that all reviewers can access, with abstracts assigned to them specifically, will simplify the process. Submitters will appreciate the elegance of the system, too. They can turn in everything—abstract, bio, photo, research, and more—in one place, save a draft to submit in the future, and even request A/V equipment.
Your association staff could use a break, too. Omnipress’ Abstract Collection System makes their life easier as well; for example, they can manage multiple collection processes and requirements for the same conference. Your staff can communicate with submitters, presenters, and reviewers with an email within the system. Better yet, technical questions about the submission process are routed to Omnipress directly; you can rest assured that we’ll take care of those issues so you don’t have to. Questions about the event itself go to your association.
Your event has enough T’s to cross and I’s to dot. There’s no reason to add any further confusion to your collection process. Keep the process smooth, streamlined, and hassle-free with Omnipress.
As a person who coordinates meetings and annual conferences for associations, you understand the stress of speakers not hitting their call for final presentations deadline, getting the most current information in the printed conference programs, ensuring those programs arrive on time, making sure your attendees can find their handouts online and offering a website that professionalizes your conference…and all of this is just work-related stress!
While there are a lot of details you need to be concerned about when planning an annual meeting, there are certainly some you SHOULDN’T be worried about. Here are 3 tools you can use to help ease the stress of event planning.
3 Tools to Improve Conferences
Collect, Manage and Review Presentations Using an Online System.
Stop using email as your tool for collecting your final presentations and start using a system that keeps you organized. Collecting final presentations via email may be better than Fed Ex deliveries, but it certainly doesn’t mean you have a cutting edge collection process. As busy professionals, we understand how easy it is for emails to disappear, sometimes even before we get to see them. (The love/hate relationship with our spam filters is never ending.) Creating one online location for ALL submitters and reviewers streamlines the entire process from your initial call for abstracts to collecting and reviewing speakers’ final presentations.
Provide a Conference Program and Speaker Materials in a Condensed Learning Journal and Flash Drive. More conference materials mean more worry about which conference materials are going to arrive on which day from which vendor at what location. This is completely unnecessary. Instead of having your conference final program, session materials and notepads, try a conference learning journal that includes both your final program and extra note pages in one spiral bound book. Then, attach your flash drive of conference proceedings to the inside cover. And finally, right under that flash drive, include a link or QR code which will lead attendees right to your conference’s online event community where they can download the speaker handouts.
Publishing Your Conference Handouts and Proceedings in a Digital Publishing Platform. Don’t leave it to your presenters to take business cards and send their handouts in a link to session attendees. This is crazy, but it still happens. Start publishing your conference proceedings and session handouts in a consistent online location (better known as a digital publishing platform). Then, keep publishing year after year in this same knowledge center under the same URL… for example, “conferencehandouts.yourassociations.com.” Market this website everywhere (in emails, on the program cover, on session starter slides, etc.). And, if you’re publishing your materials through this digital publishing platform, attendees should just be able to Google it and find it easily.
Spending less time worrying about conference materials will give you more time to focus on more important aspects of planning a meeting or conference.
What are some other resources that would help make your conference planning job less stressful?
When we say that meeting planners have control issues when it comes to managing their online collection process, we mean no disrespect.
We’re talking about who needs access to the system to be able to manage the online abstract collection process. Often we see challenges when only one person (usually the overworked meeting or educational coordinator) has to do everything in the system.
Or sometimes anyone and everyone has access to the abstracts, reviews and other information, and that can cause chaos.
Some meeting coordinators try to coach other power users of the system on how to use a part of the site and tell them to not access other areas. But this system relies on a number of leaps of faith, including trust, competence and honesty. The more control you have, the less special instructions you need to give and the lower the risk you take by not giving someone the keys to the entire system.
Here’s a list of questions to ask when you’re putting together the guidelines for system access to your online collection system for your call for presentations or abstracts.
Do you need to provide different levels of access to different people within the system?
Does your administrator need to be able to do everything, while your intern only needs to be able to access reports?
Will you have Program Chairs who only need access to their sessions or tracks?
Can you easily provide access to the public, or instead restrict access to only invited speakers?
Can you easily revoke access if needed?
How will you handle adding late submissions (after the deadline) when the site is closed without opening the entire site to everyone?
These access considerations should be determined up front. List out your different roles and what they will need access to. Will the system you use support this? It’s rare to find anyone willing to do custom programming to allow and limit access to sections of your system. It’s best to start with a system that offers flexibility upfront with roles and access.