Scientific meetings come in various flavors—from one-day focused workshops of 1–20 people to large-scale multiple-day meetings of 1,000 or more delegates, including keynotes, sessions, posters, social events, and so on. These ten rules are intended to provide insights into organizing meetings across the scale.
Scientific meetings are at the heart of a scientist’s professional life since they provide an invaluable opportunity for learning, networking, and exploring new ideas. In addition, meetings should be enjoyable experiences that add exciting breaks to the usual routine in the laboratory. Being involved in organizing these meetings later in your career is a community responsibility. Follow those Ten rules for a successful Medical Conference.
Rule 1: The Science Is the Most Important Thing
Good science, above all else, defines a good meeting; logistics are important, but secondary. Get the right people there, namely the best in the field and those who will be the best, and the rest will take care of itself. When choosing a topic for your conference, map it to the needs of your target audience. Make sure that you have a sufficiently wide range of areas, without being too general. The greater the number of topics covered, the more likely people are to come, but the less time you will have to focus on particular subject matter. Emerging areas can attract greater interest; try to include them in your program as much as possible; let your audience decide the program through the papers they submit to the general call for papers. This can be done with broad and compelling topic areas such as “Emerging Trends in …” or “New Developments in …”.
Rule 2: Allow for Plenty of Planning Time
Planning time should range from nine months to more than a year ahead of the conference, depending on the size of your event. Allow plenty of time to select your meeting venue; to call for, review, and accept scientific submissions; to arrange for affordable/discounted hotel rooms; to book flights and other transportation options to the conference. Having outstanding keynote speakers at your event will also require you contact them months in advance—the bigger the name, the more time is required.
Rule 3: Study All Potential Financial Issues Affecting Your Event
Sponsors are usually your primary source of funds, next to the delegates’ registration fees. To increase the chances of being sponsored by the industry, write them a clear proposal stating how the money will be spent and what benefits they can expect to get in return. You may also want to reserve a few time slots for industry talks or demos as a way of attracting more sponsors, but be wary that the scientific flavor of the meeting is not impacted by blatant commercialism. Make sure you first approach the sponsors that match your interest topics the closest. If they say they are not interested this year, keep their contact information, as they might be able to sponsor you in future events. Approach them early rather than later in any case. The cost of your conference will be proportional to the capacity of the venue; therefore, a good estimation of the number of attendees will provide you with a good estimate of your costs. Depending on the capacity of the venue, call WE RENT to rent furniture so we can make your conference a simple task
Rule 4: Choose the Right Date and Location
If you decide to do it on your own, you should consider how easy it is to travel to your chosen location, whether it has a strong local community in your field, and whether it has cultural or other tourist attractions. Inexpensive accommodation and airfares to your conference are always a plus.
Rule 5: Create a Balanced Agenda
A conference is a place for people wanting to share and exchange ideas. Having many well-known speakers will raise the demand for your event (and the cost) but that has to be balanced with enough time for presentation of submitted materials. A mix of senior scientists and junior scientists always works for the better. Young researchers may be more enthusiastic and inspiring for students, while top senior scientists will be able to present a more complete perspective of the field. Allow plenty of time for socializing, too; breaks, meals, and poster sessions are ideal occasions to meet potential collaborators and to foster networking among peers.
Rule 6: Carefully Select Your Key Helpers the Organizing Committees
A single person will not have all the skills necessary to organize a large meeting, but the organizing committee collectively needs to have the required expertise. You might want to separate the areas of responsibilities between your aides depending on their interests and availability. Some potential responsibilities you might delegate are:
1) content and design of the Web site promoting the meeting
2) promotion materials and marketing
3) finance and fundraising
4) paper submissions and review
7) local organization
8) program and speakers
Your organizing committee should be large enough to handle all the above but not too large, avoiding freeloaders and communication issues. It is invaluable to have a local organizing committee since they know local institutions, speakers, companies, and tourist attractions. Local organizations may also help you with administrative tasks; for example, dealing with registration of attendees and finding suitable accommodations around the venue
Rule 7: Have the Members of the Organizing Committees Communicate Regularly
It is good to have planning sessions by teleconference ahead of the meeting. As far as possible, everyone should be familiar with all aspects of the meeting organization. This collective wisdom will make it less likely that important issues are forgotten. The local organizers should convince everyone that the venue will work. Use these sessions to assign responsibilities ahead of the meeting. Tasks such as manning the registration tables, carrying microphones for attendees to ask questions, introducing sessions and speakers, checking presentations ahead of time, and having poster boards, materials to attach posters, etc., are easily overlooked. In short, good communication will lead to you covering all the little things so easily forgotten.
Rule 8: Wrap up the conference properly
At the end of the conference, you should give credit to everyone who helped to make the event a success. If you have awards to present, this is the right time for the awards ceremony. Dedicate some time to thank your speakers and sponsors as well as everyone involved in the organization of the conference. Also collect feedback about the event from the delegates through questionnaires. This evaluation will help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your conference and give you the opportunity to improve possible future events. Have a party or some other event for all those organizing the conference.
Rule 9: Make the Impact of Your Conference Last
Published proceedings are the best way to make the results of your conference last. Negotiate with journals far in advance of the conference to publish the proceedings. Make those proceedings as widely accessible as possible. Upload photos and videos of the event to the conference Web site and post the names of presenters who have received awards or travel fellowships. It is also a good idea to link the results of your evaluation to the Web site. Send one last e-mail to all delegates, including a summary of the activities since the conference and thanking them for their participation. This is particularly important if you are considering holding the conference again in future years, in which case include some information on your plans for the next event.
As always, we welcome your comments and experiences that you think would enrich these ten rules so that they might be useful to others. The comment feature now supported by this journal makes it easy to do this.