How to Improve Your Conference Sessions (and Create Happy Attendees)

“What an educational experience!”

“I enjoyed every session I attended.”

“The speakers did a great job.”

This is the kind of feedback that makes the months of planning worthwhile.

Every conference planner knows how important educational sessions are to your event. Attendees often justify the cost of their trip by citing the new topics they learn about. This means nothing is more welcome than receiving positive feedback on your conference sessions. After all, who is more likely to return next year than satisfied attendees?

But these positive learning experiences don’t just happen.

A big-name speaker for the keynote speech is not enough to ensure a good learning outcome for everyone involved. Successful planners know the work they do before the conference plays a major role in the feedback they receive afterward.

Here are five tips that will help your speakers deliver impactful sessions:

1. Have a system in place

Organization is key to ensuring a smooth-running conference. But coordinating with speakers before the event has been known to derail even the most seasoned planners. The constant back and forth can become an all-consuming experience.

An abstract management system takes the hassle out of coordinating with your submitters. Having the right organizational tool means less time hunting through emails and attachments. Freeing you to focus on finding speakers that resonate with your audience.

2. Inbox hero

Peer review is another organizational challenge that will overwhelm your inbox. A full-featured abstract management system organizes and automates your peer review process. Emailing research paper abstracts to individual reviewers can be a thing of the past! Imagine what other elements of your conference you can work on with these time savings.

Seriously, go ahead and imagine.

Others will notice the improved communications, as well. Your reviewers will delight at the ease of use that allows them to focus on what they do best.

3. Plan for different learning styles

Not all conference attendees learn in the same way. Some prefer the traditional presenter/listener model, but try to offer other formats, as well. A panel discussion allows for different points of view, while a workshop creates an interactive experience. Embrace this variety! Encourage your speakers to re- evaluate event learning models for presenting their educational content.

“Visual” vs. “verbal” learning is another factor to consider when selecting conference session formats. The format of the presentation is best left to the presenter, but as the event organizer, you play an important role. Make sure all the necessary A/V resources are available to handle a dynamic presentation.

Start this dialog with speakers early during your call for abstracts to avoid any surprises during the conference.

4. Make an introduction

Letting your presenters and attendees connect before the event is good for everyone. Speaker bios, preliminary papers and conference schedule give attendees a preview of the sessions. Speakers will appreciate the chance to develop their personal brands online. And this fresh content drives traffic to your website.

Keep a space reserved on your conference website for guest postings. Promoting these posts on social media builds attendees’ excitement in the weeks leading up to your conference.

Presenters can also use this opportunity to provide preliminary information on their topics. This is especially helpful in emerging fields. Attendees will be able to get more out of their conference session by having a baseline education before the event.

5. Give your educational content a life of its own

Over the course of the event, your speakers present more information than any one person could master. In fact, the average attendee forgets 70 percent of what they learn within 24 hours!

(Psst…. Guess what? There’s a way around that.)

An online content library is a great way to create a single location for all your conference content. This digital library lets your attendees know exactly where to go for the information they need, when they need it. And finding material is a breeze whether browsing by topic or searching by keyword.

Online conference materials add depth to your association’s website. This relevant, high-quality content makes your website a destination for those researching industry-specific topics. Exactly the kind of people your association wants as members.

Don’t wait until the conference is over to start gathering materials, though. Avoid confusion by making arrangements with your speakers early in the process.

These discussions should happen as part of the initial call for papers.

Conclusion

Focusing on what’s important to your attendees is critical to hosting a successful conference. Having the proper system in place leading up to the event allows you to spend more time choosing content and less time managing communication.

As a result, your attendees biggest challenge will be deciding which sessions they have to miss. And when the show is over and everyone has gone home, how will it feel to hear that feedback?

Has feedback ever motivated you to change your organizational process? What other ways do you accommodate different learning styles in your sessions? Any good tips to help attendees make the most of what they’ve learned? Let us know in the comments!

How to Choose the Best Abstract Management System Options for Your Association

It’s not easy to choose the right abstract management system for your association. Even after you make the decision of which provider to use, you may have options of different plans. Pretty soon, confusion sets in, and you’d rather just not think about it for a while.

Don’t get discouraged! We can help you sort through your options to find just the right fit for your association and your process. Once you work this out, you can rest assured that you can choose the same thing next year, or a different one.

With Omnipress’ abstract management and paper collection system, you have three options: Silver, Silver Lite, and Silver Lite with Review. Let’s go through each of them so you can make the most informed decision about how to move your association forward and collect all of your valuable association’s conference content.

 

Silver
The Silver Package includes a 15-month site license, making this the best choice for association with a long or complicated review process. Medical and scientific groups tend to fall under this umbrella; they often need multiple rounds of reviewing and other time-consuming processes. The 15-month license allows for that kind of freedom.

When you have a longer license, you can advertise your call for papers at a 2015 conference for 2016! Hand out small cards this year with a submission site, or QR code that points to it, while excitement is still high from this year’s annual meeting.

Another advantage to the silver package is the scheduling tool, which is not available at the other levels discussed. The streamlined interface lets you drag-and-drop sessions into place as they are accepted.

Silver Lite with Review
The perfect choice when a review process is needed, but not overly complicated, is Silver Lite with Review. The site license is eight months: long enough to do a thorough job, but not so lengthy as to add significant cost to your abstract management system.

If your review process is more straight-forward and shorter (one round instead of multiple, for example), Silver Lite with Review may be the best choice for your association.

Silver Lite
Associations who use an abstract management system only for the collection of final presentations, Silver Lite is the way to go. With the shortest site license, at four months, Silver Lite does not allow enough time for a review process. This option is often chosen by associations with invited speakers.

 

All packages include one year of read-only access after the annual meeting is over.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend giving yourself, your submitters, and your reviewers ample wiggle room. It’s not uncommon to need more time you originally anticipated. If you think you might need more time, it’s best to go up to the next type of license.

You do have the option of adding months to a shorter license, but it’s easier and cheaper to start with a longer license than you think you might need. Keep this in mind especially if you start at Silver Lite with Review and find the scheduling tool compelling.

For more information on the different packages Omnipress offers, reach out to an account manager! We would be happy to help you determine the best abstract management options for your association.

Evaluating Your Call for Paper or Abstract Process: Part 4

To round out this video series, Bob Hamm focuses on content beyond collection in Part 4: Final Materials & Outputs. When you work with Omnipress, you can use one source for collection and just about any final product you can think of, including:

If Bob’s description of a complete online collection system (and full-service vendor) sounds like a good fit for your organization, let’s talk! Reach out to us to learn more about how a single-source partner can save you time, make your life easier and free you up for other important tasks to prepare for your next event.

Omnipress Celebrates Continuing Legal Education with NABE Sponsorship

For over 25 years, Omnipress has been helping legal and bar associations collect, produce and deliver program books, meeting syllabi, case reports and continuing legal education seminar materials in print, on flash drives and online. Omnipress announced yesterday that they are returning to the National Association of Bar Executives’ Midyear Meeting as a second year sponsor.

“Our extensive history working with bar associations nationwide on both conference and CLE-related materials has provides us unique insight into the specific needs and challenges for bar executives,” states Tracy Gundert, COO of Omnipress. “We are especially excited to talk with executives about our new mobile event apps and online collection services which can save both time and money for busy staff members.”

Read the Official Press Release.

continuing legal education

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

Getting Speakers to Turn In Presentations – 6 Tips

Do you feel like you’re constantly chasing down speakers to get them to turn in their presentations for your annual meeting?

Due dates and speaker policy agreements seem to go out the window for some speakers, causing meeting planners and coordinators to obsessively call and email last-minute reminders. And you might be battling the fact that there is no consideration (honorarium) for your volunteer presenters.

If you follow the ASAE discussion listserv (open to ASAE members only), this topic recently ignited between association professionals.

Here are some of the tips they came up with.

6 Tips for Getting Speakers to Meet Collection Deadlines

  1. Request Speaker Presentations Before the Meeting: Push the deadline as close to the meeting as possible, but ensure speakers they will have time to make any last-minute changes closer to the meeting date if necessary.
  2. Reconsider your Deadline: Is your deadline for speaker presentations and papers reasonable? Does your call for presentations close 6-7 months before the conference? Having too early of a deadline increases the likelihood of speakers not hitting it. Remember, we’re a last-minute society. Plus, do your attendees really want to attend sessions where the content is a half year old?
  3. Send Out Multiple Reminder Emails/Posts: It’s a busy industry, and most people need reminders. Instead of bombarding speakers with emails a week before the deadline, try staggering your reminder emails three months, two months and one week ahead of time. Give them suggestions as to where they should be in the slide creation process. And if a speaker already turned in their presentation, don’t send them the standard, “Hey, this is a reminder to turn your presentation in. If you have, ignore this,” email message. Make your speakers feel special.
  4. Stay True to Speaker Policy and Deadlines: Once you’ve analyzed your speaker policy and you’re confident deadlines are reasonable, STICK TO IT! If your speaker agreement says those unable to make deadlines will not speak, make sure you follow through. If you don’t follow the speaker policy, speakers won’t, either.
  5. Emphasize Speaker Incentives for Submitting Presentations: Emphasize the importance of timeliness and how it benefits their reputation as professional speakers, the conference integrity and the attendee experience.
  6. Presentation Management System: Do you have an online speaker file collection system that allows you to properly manage multiple speakers and presentations? Your abstract and presentation management system should allow you to easily send personalized reminders to speakers who haven’t turned in their presentation materials. (You should also have a user-friendly collection system that makes it easy for speakers to submit their presentation.)

Do you have any tips for getting speakers to submit their conference presentations?

Is Your Abstract Collection System Really that Rigid?

How would you describe your online system for collecting abstracts, reviews and final presentations?

A. It’s as flexible as my yoga instructor!

B. It’s as stiff as a board!

C. Does collecting via my email count as an online system?

Managing Abstracts and Final Presentations is Easy-Peasy

If you answered A:
Congratulations! Collecting abstracts, final presentations and managing your reviewers and submissions should make your life easier. It should
be adaptable to your process, not the other way around.

An Online Collection System That Doesn’t Bend

If you answered B:
Are you compromising your collection and reviewing process because your system isn’t flexible enough?

  • Are you using two or more systems because you can’t find one to take care of the whole job?
  • Are you limited to certain types of fields you’re using to collect materials?
  • Are you not able to stagger deadlines for different types of submissions?
  • Are you not able to communicate with authors and organize their materials easily?
  • Are you not able to export the data you want, when you want it?
  • Are you getting nickeled and dimed for customized programming?

Guess what? Your abstract system doesn’t need to be this rigid. A truly robust system for collecting and managing you call for papers and review process will be flexible enough to adapt to your unique process (without you having to be the flexible one).

Your online collection and review system should help you collect, organize, review and produce:

  • Abstracts
  • Proposals
  • Final papers and manuscripts
  • Disclosures and copyright releases
  • Session handouts and presentations
  • Speaker information, photos and biographies
  • A/V information
  • Session scheduling

Using Email to Manage Your Collection Process?

If you answered C:

You may want to read this article: Email to Collect Final Presentations… Really?