When you’re in charge, the success of your medical conference doesn’t just reflect on your team or company—it reflects on you personally. Fortunately, what makes a successful conference is not just a matter of blind luck.
Conference success is under your direct control.
Here are three little-known ways that will ensure your next medical conference is outstanding.
“If something can go wrong, it will.” Obsessively planning is the best way to make sure that almost nothing goes wrong. And if something does go wrong, you’ll have a process to fix it immediately and with little effort.
Being obsessive is how to plan a successful conference. If you’re not already an obsessive planner, then become one. This is a skill you can easily develop. There are many tools available to help, but the one I recommend the most is Trello. I even have a Trello board just for listing all of my processes. I also have a checklist for each process, so I never forget a step. This system saves me time, makes me more productive, and increases the quality of my work.
Another useful planning tool is conference registration software. I’ve attended conferences that used either an all-paper system or software that handled only part of the job. This discombobulated start set the stage for an unsuccessful conference.
Break down your conference into sub-systems, such as pre-conference marketing, registration, etc. List every process for every sub-system, and then list every step of every process. Be obsessive. And of course, be sure everyone on your team follows every step for which they are responsible.
Bring Extra Staff
Successful conferences are not created by a few people working their tails off. You need a team where everyone has enough time to interact with attendees. They need to have time to take care of the any crisis that pops up and give it their full attention.
If only one or two people are available, then they will quickly become overwhelmed and not able to handle requests. This will leave everyone at the conference feeling it was a disorganized mess.
Even if you do not personally experience a crisis, your perception of the conference is influenced by what other people experience. Watching frustrated staff members and attendees will quickly spread negative perceptions.
Bring a few more team members than you think you will need, and you will avoid all of this. The extra team members don’t even have to be especially knowledgeable about the conference itself. Choose people that are friendly and are willing to learn a few procedures to handle most crises that arise.
Create a checklist with “if this, then that” processes for situations that are most likely to occur. For example, what is the procedure to follow if someone forgets their pass, or if they arrive late for registration? Print and laminate these procedures, and be sure every team member has one.
Do you want to be obsessively prepared? Have a training session before the conference starts and cover as many scenarios as possible. Encourage team members to ask a lot of questions and to think of unlikely scenarios. Also, create a hierarchy or chain of command. When a team member is stuck, who do they go to for help?
As the person in charge, you should be the last person in that chain of command. Ideally, you should rarely be asked for help. Your job is to oversee all of the processes that you’ve put in place, not put out fires.
Market Like Crazy
You can’t have a successful conference if no one knows about it. Don’t expect people to remember, even if they faithfully attend every year. Our lives become busier, not less busy.
Good marketing is appreciated because it is considerate. It shows that you understand how busy people are, and you’re helping them remember an important event.
Remind people early and often, and then go a step further. Show people why your next medical conference is even more important than the last one. Show them the benefits of attending, and be specific. For each benefit, give an example of how that benefit will improve their life. Make it a no-brainer why they should attend.
And as you would expect me to say by now: Obsessively plan your marketing. Have a process for everything, and include dates for every step. Learn how to effectively use email marketing or outsource it to a marketing company that has the experience to do a great job.
Obsessive planning and documenting every process is the key to a successful medical conference. It’s also the key to your sanity. Spend your time managing processes, not putting out fires.
If you don’t already have a system for organizing your processes, take a look at Trello.
Are you committed to making your next medical conference an outstanding success?