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Event Program: How to Prepare A Well-Functioning One ?

Sep 22, 2016

One of the conventional problems of event management is preparing a sound and applicable event program. Since it could never been completed at planned deadline many times, especially in scientific conferences, it's usually a headache for planners. Besides, it's not only the technical or scientific program, but also the social program as well. But, that's for sure, an event program is the backbone and indispensable part of an event. Well, there are some well known, rules or experiences gained at past events. Here you may find some suggestions about event program below;

Technical program

The technical program is the heart of the conference and special care must be given to obtaining papers of high quality. Structuring a program of all or mostly all papers invited from recognised authorities provides for a high quality technical program but makes for a closed conference. Attendance at a conference of invited papers may be smaller if the majority of possible attendees must present papers in order to receive travel funds.

Structuring an event program

Structuring a program of all contributed papers makes for a more open conference but organising sessions may prove difficult, the quality of the technical program may be highly variable, and it may be difficult to obtain enough papers. Often the best solution is a combination of invited and contributed papers, with a significant proportion of papers invited by session chairpersons who are leading authorities in the discipline.

How to include workshops and poster sessions

Decisions should also be made about including poster sessions, special workshops, and short courses. Workshops and short courses can be provided as a service to members at no additional charge – a supplement to strengthen the technical program- or they can be included as a corollary to the technical program at a modest or a good charge to members and as a source of revenue to the society. Workshops and short courses can be scheduled on the day before or the day after the conference so that they do not diminish attendance at regular technical sessions. Workshops can also be scheduled in the evenings. Poster sessions can be scheduled for break times and held in the exhibits area, when exhibits are included, or they can run in parallel with other sessions. They must be in areas of high traffic to give the exposure necessary for successful sessions.

The scheduling constraint for workshops and poster sessions is usually the number of announced conference days and the events available to fill those days. The program should be arranged so that a person does not have to be in two places at once to meet his or her interests.

Social activities

Other decisions involve planning for special meals (luncheons or banquets), one or more plenary sessions with a keynote speaker, socials, and special tours. Meal events are costly and are not always well attended, especially formal banquets. An alternative to the formal banquet is a conference reception, which can be held as a welcoming event on the evening before the conference opens, on the first afternoon, or as a closing session; it can include presentations or serve only as a social gathering.

If a late afternoon conference reception is included, it can be held in the exhibits area as a formal opening for the exhibits-an effective way to attract participants to the area. Such a reception can follow a combination plenary session and business meeting. Special receptions or socials can also be held: a welcoming reception for new members or first-time conference attendees; a president's reception; a conference chairperson's reception; or a program chairperson's reception or social for session chairpersons, speakers, conference planning committee members, and society officers to welcome participants, to enable them to become acquainted with other participants and with society officers, and to go over any final arrangements. Socials, when properly planned and held in the correct environment, are especially valuable in promoting working relationships among participants.

Including keynote speakers

When plenary sessions include keynote speakers, provisions should be made for selecting and inviting the speaker well in advance. Normally, distinguished individuals in the discipline are chosen as plenary session speakers, and since such individuals generally have extraordinarily full schedules, they must be invited one or two years in advance. Including their presentations in the advance publicity and programs is advantageous. Planning for alternative speakers, even if informally, can also be important should a plenary session speaker be forced to cancel. Similar guidelines apply to selection of keynote speakers for luncheons and banquets.

Program for spouses or families

Part of the program planning must concern whether to include a spouses' or family program in conjunction with the conference and whether to include sightseeing or professional tours. If spouses and families are encouraged to attend, a program should be arranged for them.

Traditionally, spouses' programs have been arranged for women; however, increasingly, spouses attending professional society conferences include both men and women. Program planners should include events that appeal to both men and women, particularly if the profile of society members suggests that men would participate in a spouses' program.

Several types of activities can be included in a spouses' program. Among them are tours of plants or laboratories related to the society's discipline and planned outings to major sightseeing or recreational attractions in the area, museums and art galleries, cultural events (concerts, plays, musicals), historical sites, specialty restaurants (for luncheons and dinners), professional sports events (e.g., major league baseball, football, or basketball, depending on the season, or golf or tennis tournaments), and malls. Participatory sports events can also be planned as a paint of the program. Ingenuity in selecting events and arrangement of an innovative program with both educational and recreational appeal are necessary for a successful spouses' program.When a conference includes a spouses' program, arrangements should be made for a hospitality room to serve as a meeting place and a departure point for events. Provisions should be made for refreshments in the hospitality room. Area maps, brochures of local attractions, lists of restaurants, and sample menus can also be provided.


About the Author

Erkan OGULGANMIS

Posted by Erkan OGULGANMIS

Erkan OGULGANMIS Graduated from Army War College, completed MA degree in Ankara University on Global & Regional Studies, studies law in Istanbul University. Works in MEETINGHAND Online Solutions Co. as Business Development & Sales Manager.