Keep Your Event Content Organized and Avoid a Data Gap

 

Congratulations! You’ve made it through another call for abstracts/speakers/papers. Your submissions are in, your sessions are selected, and your collection site is now closed. It’s time to take the collected content and turn it into print and digital conference materials. You’re almost to the finish line.

So, how are you managing your data gap?

Okay, let’s back up…

What is a data gap?

In short, it’s the period of time between when all final program content has been extracted from your collection system, and final materials are due to your print and digital vendors for output. During this time, your program will change, often multiple times. A submitter will need to add or update a credited co-author. A final paper will require last-minute revisions. So who is responsible for managing these changes, where are they tracked, and how are changes communicated to your print, online and app providers? Without a well-defined process in place, there is a significant risk that your attendees will end up with materials that are incorrect, incomplete or outdated. Here are three simple steps to help you take control of your data gap, reducing the amount of time spent managing content changes and minimizing content errors:

Create a single, centralized database of record

A database of record is a single file where all of your current content lives, and where all subsequent changes will be made. This repository of conference content allows all staff and stakeholders to work from one set of consistent data, rather than having to each manage changes on their own with separate vendors. Depending upon the quantity and type of content you have collected, you may want to use an excel spreadsheet to list all files, links to the final documents or files on your server, date and time of the last update, and the nature of the change.

Trying to manage these changes within your abstract management system after it has closed can be tricky. If the content has already been extracted and is in the process of being formatted and prepped for production, you will have to manage those changes separately with each vendor. Or, if you need to go back into the system and extract updated content each time it changes, you’re essentially requiring either your vendors or your staff to re-format the same content again and again.

Know how your vendors want to receive changes

Depending upon the nature and volume of the changes, do they want to receive them as they happen? Do they prefer that you wait and batch-upload them at a particular time? In what format do they need them? Use this information to build your own processes, and your database of record accordingly.

Assign one owner to manage all changes

There should be only one person who is changing data in your “database of record” and communicating changes to your staff or vendors. This is the best way to have confidence in your database as the “source of truth” for your program content.

This is just one of the many content “hacks” we share with our customers to help them manage their content more efficiently and error-free. Want to know more? Send us a note at justask@omnipress.com. We’re happy to share the knowledge!

7 Creative Ways to Crowdsource Data With an Abstract Management System

 

If your association uses an online abstract management system to collect, review and manage your call for papers, you know just how valuable it is. What you might not know, though, is that the uses for this system don’t stop when your annual conference does. That’s right—the same system that collects your abstracts and papers can be used year-round to crowdsource data that benefits your association.

At its core, an abstract management system is a tool to help you collect and review data from many different sources. Using this tool for more than just abstracts can help save you time and reduce collection-related headaches down the road. Any project where you need to collect information from multiple people can be made more efficient by using a collection system.

Here are seven scenarios where an abstract management system can help you crowdsource data:

Sponsor or exhibitor information

When preparing for your annual conference, you aren’t limited to collecting information for your speakers or presenters. If you’re compiling a directory or program that includes your sponsors or exhibitors, you can create forms to collect all of that information in the same place! This is a great way to consolidate the number of places you collect information for your annual event and make planning much more efficient.

Scholarship or grant applications

If your association presents scholarships or grants, consider using your system to collect those applications. You can have them reviewed as if they were abstracts and even put them through multiple rounds of review to determine finalists.

Directories

Do you publish a directory annually or once every few years? If so, you know how big of a headache collecting reliable information from your members can be. Imagine being able to set up a form to collect member information that you can efficiently organize and pull out for publication later.

Board nominations

When electing new members to your association’s board, getting countless nominations can be cumbersome to manage on paper or in an email. Use your abstract management system to collect and review board nominations each year.

Survey or feedback

Whether you’re looking to collect feedback on your annual conference, your continuing education courses or just general feedback about your organization (or all three!), using your system to conduct a survey is a great way to keep all of that information in one place.

Call for bids

When it’s time to set up a call for bids for a project your association is working on, managing all of the responses can be challenging. Collecting your vendors’ bids through your collection site can help you more efficiently review them and select who to hire. Bonus tip: You can designate certain fields to be required, making it less likely that vendors will submit incomplete bids

Competitions

If you run a competition that requires organizing and reviewing multiple submissions, whether it’s for writing, projects or anything else, your abstract management system can collect all of the documents and files you need to judge each submission choose finalists and select a winner.

 

There are virtually no limits when it comes to collecting, reviewing and managing submissions or information from your association’s members. Because abstract management systems make it easy to crowdsource data, using the same streamlined process to handle these other cumbersome projects can make your job easier year-round!

10 Easy Ways to Promote Your Call For Papers

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.

How do I promote my call for papers infographic

Your Website

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.

Email Campaigns

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.

Email Signatures

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.

Social Media

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.

Blog

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.
  • PapersInvited – the world’s largest database of calls for papers
  • Conference Alerts – another good place to add your event

Direct Mail

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.

Newsletters

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!

Short-Cutting User Testing for Your Abstract Management System is a Risky Proposition

When an organization plans to introduce a new or significantly updated website, the IT department will typically incorporate a healthy amount of user testing into the project plan. Why? Because they know that what looks good on paper does not always translate well into practice. Users of a website are an enigmatic bunch. No matter how “intuitive” a particular web experience is meant to be, they will always use your tools in ways no one would have ever anticipated.

So why do organizations often “skimp” on testing their online abstract management systems?

Given the temporary life span of a collection system, perhaps testing is not considered to be as important or necessary. Or, maybe there simply isn’t enough time in the current project schedule. Whatever the reason, skipping or short-cutting your user testing will likely produce more issues for you, your submitters and reviewers down the road. You can easily avoid this by setting up a quick and simple process that allows you to identify and resolve any potential “sticking points” early on. Honestly, we find that a majority of the time, issues can be fixed through a simple re-writing of the submission instructions.

Who should test your system?

When evaluating an abstract management system, keep in mind that this tool will be used by people in a variety of roles, and with different levels of technical savvy, time, patience (and potentially, command of the English language). Therefore, it’s recommended that you perform a “test-drive” with these variations in mind.

  • Recruit volunteers who reflect the diversity of your submitters and reviewers, including those that may have the most basic comfort and knowledge with online technology
  • This includes individuals who are part of your organization but perhaps not involved in the day-to-day of your conference, as well as individuals from outside your organization (friends, neighbors and relatives)
  • Assign them each a different role, and provide them with a list of basic tasks to complete. Have them document their input into a provided worksheet or spreadsheet and note where they run into problems

How long should testing take?

You will want to build in 2-4 weeks total, which includes testing, compilation of results, as well as making (and re-testing) changes to your collection system before it opens. Here are some general guidelines. Your specific timeframe will vary depending upon how simple or complex your submission process is:

  • Give your testers about a week to complete their assigned tasks, allowing you to be mindful of their schedules while ensuring you get as many completed tests as possible
  • Plan to spend a few days going through the feedback, and compiling notes for your provider
  • Depending upon the nature of the issues, you’ll want to give your provider anywhere from a few days to 1-2 weeks to make the necessary changes
  • Don’t forget to re-test any changes! This can be done with a smaller group, in a matter of days

What sorts of things should we test?

Because “good” user experience is somewhat subjective, it can be difficult to define and quantify. In general, here’s how to identify a well-designed abstract management system:

  • Basic functions are intuitive, and require little to no instructions
  • The page is designed and laid out in a way that makes it easy for users to understand what they need to do, and in what order
  • The process is easy to follow, even for those whom do not speak English as their first language
  • Processes require as few clicks as possible to complete
  • Visual or text-based cues are logically placed throughout the site to prompt users if and when they need assistance

Do you have any tips or tricks on testing your abstract management system? Share them with your peers in the comments here.

Want to know more about setting up your collection and review process for success? We can help? Send us a note.

3 Really Easy and Truly Practical Ways to Stop the Collection Insanity

“To get different results, you need to do things differently.”

Have we all (unnecessarily) resigned ourselves to the fact that a collection and peer review process comes with a certain level of pain? Yes, there are a tremendous number of moving parts to manage. Yes, there will always be late submissions, late-night questions and last-minute program changes. But does it need to really be this difficult, each and every year?

Actually, no.

There are some pretty simple changes that you can make to your collection process that will save you a tremendous amount of pain and hassle in the long run. Here are just a few:

  1. Think about your end products first, not last.

Before you build your collection site, make a list of all your final conference outputs such as your printed program book, proceedings, website, USBs or mobile app. Then, note all of the information you’ll need from your submitters, and in what formats. Be sure to collect this information as part of the initial submission process, rather than hunting down the information later. Not only will this save time, it will minimize the possibility that you’ll end up with incomplete or inconsistent information.

Bonus tip: Also think about the internal information you might want to have, to update your own membership records in your AMS or to market the benefits of membership to non-member submitters.

  1. Set deadlines with the worst case scenario in mind.

It’s extremely common for submitters to work on their submissions up to the very last minute. And, it’s at this eleventh hour that the greatest number of questions and issues typically arise. Don’t set yourself up for late night phone calls. Instead, set your deadline earlier in the week, in the middle of the business day.

Bonus tip: Set a hard site close date based on your conference timeline. Then, set an advertised close date approximately one week earlier. This will help you maintain your conference plan while providing some flexibility to your submitters.

  1. Have a designated “database of record.”

After the collection site has closed, as you and your team are working on your final outputs—a program book, event app, etc.—where and how will you keep track of the inevitable last-minute changes? How do you avoid sending different versions of content to each vendor? Where does the “single source of truth” live after the information has been pulled from your collection site? Set up a single database (which can simply be an Excel spreadsheet) and make sure everyone is using that to track and manage all changes.

Bonus tip: If you can minimize the number of vendors you’re working with for each of your outputs, it also makes this task a lot easier to manage.

We have more tips for you! So if you want to make your next collection a little easier to manage, let’s talk. We’d be happy to help.

Pencil It In: Set Up Your Conference Agenda in an Abstract Management System

Meeting planners run a tight ship. Their binders (both physical and digital) are things of beauty. Organization—and especially to-do lists and schedules—seems to be written into their DNA.

Because you’re so smitten with a well-planned event, you love a system that lets you get a jump on putting together the annual meeting’s agenda, even before sessions have been chosen.

If your association has a call for papers, ask your provider if there’s a scheduling tool built into the abstract management system. Imagine how nice it would be if you could map out a framework of the schedule—before the call for papers even goes out—rather than rely on your trusty spreadsheet. If everything lived in the abstract management system, there would be less back-and-forth. The process would be slick and well-organized. And you love it when that happens.

Our abstract management includes a scheduling tool with a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface. See it for yourself! Sign up for a demo today.

Does Your Inbox Runneth Over?

If you’re like most people these days, you have email messages waiting for your attention at all hours of the day. Between a shipping notification from Amazon.com, a coupon from Target, a newsletter from your neighborhood association, a reminder for your next dentist appointment, and a recipe from The Splendid Table, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And that’s just your personal email address! When you get to work, you’ll be swimming in new messages to sort through.

Given the email overload most of us deal with every day, a system that allows us to escape the rat race of the inbox, even in small doses, is welcome. Somehow tasks done outside of email feel more productive and easier to handle, without your other 30 to-dos staring you square in the face.

All of which leads us to ask: Do you use email to collect abstracts for your association’s annual meeting? If you do, is it driving you a little (or a lot) crazy?

There is, in fact, a better way. With an online abstract management system, you can use one site to handle your call for papers, the review process, and even communication with submitters and reviewers. You can send and receive messages within the system! Imagine that: your collection system is a self-contained unit, separate from your tired inbox. Just log in, do what needs to be done, and when you’re ready, move on to other tasks.

Take a break from email fatigue and make your life easier! When you work with Omnipress to manage your abstracts, including submissions and review, you’ll simplify the process. You’ll wonder how you ever managed to get collection done through email.

Interested in learning more? Try our abstract collection demo to see the system in action!

Recorded Webinar – Incorporate Complementary Event Technology with Your Community

Did you miss our latest webinar?

It’s ok; we recorded it!

Online event communities are becoming more popular every year, but many organizations that use this cutting edge service are still years behind when it comes to collecting and distributing content. Learn how you can improve gathering the speaker and exhibitor materials that are stored in your community and how to further shift your content into other appropriate distribution methods with the right event technology.

This 26 minute webinar goes over:

  • Questions to ask to find software that can bring additional value to your event
  • How to identify what to look for when you need to collect materials for your event and community
  • Other important factors when migrate your content to other platforms, whether it’s print, CD or flash drive or a Digital Publishing Platform

Is Your Call for Papers Process Causing Outdated Conference Sessions?

The best part of the meeting planning experience is watching it all come together the day of the annual conference.

Attendees are flocking around the registration table to pick up their conference schedules. They’re eagerly picking out their sessions for the day, excited to learn about the newest trends in the industry (if they haven’t already done so on the conference website, that is).

But are your conference sessions featuring the most up-to-date educational content if you’ve chosen the accepted contributed sessions six months in advance?

Is Your Collection Process Preventing Innovative Conference Materials?

Velvet Chainsaw and Tagoras recently surveyed 245 association professionals to learn more about coaching professional speakers for events and found:

75% of associations use a call for papers process that closes 9-10 months before the annual conference.

The Problem: Attendees and members don’t want to learn about the industry trends from 10 months ago, they want to learn about the industry trends that will occur 10 months from now. So how do you provide timely conference education to attendees?

Invite Key Note Speakers Later

I talked briefly with John Eisele, one of our resident Online Collection Experts who said many of his clients invite new speakers into the system once the collection and review processes are nearly finished.

Once you’ve completed your call for papers, review and call for final presentations, consider inviting new speakers into your system to provide specific, timely content for your conference.

These speakers are usually well-known, innovative leaders in the industry who have the knowledge and experience to keep your conference timely.

Offer a Late-Breaking Call for Papers

Another way his clients have maintained current topics is to open a “late-breaking call for papers” just a few months before the event. Have a few session placeholders where there would be a limited number of submissions and the review is expedited.

Perhaps you have wanted to do this before, but technology is preventing you from working with one system to do so. Technology should not be a barrier. If you have a flexible system for your call for papers process, your system should facilitate this process and strengthen your conference session. It comes down to making sure your speakers are submitting their presentations on time and reviewers are reviewing on time.

How do you make sure your conference isn’t outdated before it even begins?

Beyond Technology: Supporting Your Abstract Management System

Let’s just start by assessing your abstract management system to make sure it can accommodate your needs.

Your online system should be flexible enough to:

  • Collect abstracts, final presentations and other information from speakers
  • Collect, manage and review files
  • Communicate with speakers easily
  • Organize submissions to create your program
  • Provide customized reports
  • And much more

Yes, the technology is flexible, but what about the company supporting the technology?

The big question is: Are you leading the support team for your abstract management system, or are they leading you?

Three Questions to Ask About the Company Supporting Your Abstract Management System

  1. Does your abstract collection support team schedule a planning call? Even before your “call for abstracts” opens, your collection support team should be discussing big picture needs and tactical next steps.
    Does your collection team ask about:
    -Past collection experiences: How many times have you collected before? Things to watch for?
    -Goals for collection: What are the final outputs? Will you need data for other things?
    -Site setup and form specification: What information needs to be included? How will that data be used?
  2. Does your abstract management support team proactively lead each stage of the collection process? From your first call for papers through the review process and collection of final files and presentations, your collection team should help you at each step of the way.
    Does your support team:
    -Send you how-to guides for each stage of abstract collection, review, scheduling and final file collection
    -Follow up with the initial schedule throughout the collection process to ensure everything is still on track
  3. Does your collection support team have a standardized process and set of planning tools? Every member of the collection support team should be using the same process and tools, kept in a localized place, following the same standard procedure. This way if one member goes on vacation, the rest of the collection support team isn’t scrambling to find materials like standardized output emails, setup forms and your schedule.

Your Experience with the Company Supporting Your Collection System

I hope you were able to say “Yes! My collection team does all of this for me.” That means your collection team is proactive and leading YOU through the process of collecting, reviewing and managing abstracts and final presentations.

If your collection team is often missing data or having to go back and update the system, we’re sorry; they may be more reactive, making the process of collecting, managing and reviewing speaker files unnecessarily difficult, time consuming and frustrating.

So back to the big question: Are you leading the support team for your abstract management system, or are they leading you?

4 Resources for Anyone Who Collects Abstracts or Final Presentations

Working with presenters to get their materials submitted on time and in the format you want is challenging. Perhaps you are “doing it old school”… using email as your system for collecting information and files from speakers. Or maybe your current abstract/call for papers and online review instructions are so complex you need a PhD to decipher them.

If you’re in charge of your call for papers/abstracts process, online reviewing or collecting final presentations from speakers, you might find these articles helpful:

Communicating with your Authors and Contributing Presenters

Arguments for Collecting Content Online

Promoting your Call for (Abstracts | Papers)

.

Is there a challenge not being addressed here?

We help hundreds of associations and meeting professionals collect abstracts, papers and other content from their contributing authors and presenters. Share your thoughts below and we’ll be glad to provide you with insights.

Skip to content Top