Written by Spencer Gore | Chief Executive Officer, European Medical Group | @SJGore
It’s symposium day and you’re experiencing cold sweats, stressing over your speakers and slides. But what’s the use in worrying about the content, when you have an audience consisting of a nearly empty room? And how are you going to make sure the man who had to take a phone call half way through has access to what he missed? The process of hosting a symposium is a stressful affair and to ensure it will be the grand success you promised your boss, diligent planning is needed pre, during, and post congress. By going through the list below and making sure you’ve ticked these boxes you will be on your way to hosting a successful symposium and on the way to your next promotion.
1. Have a clear objective with SMART KPI’s
If you don’t know exactly what you want to get out of the event, how will you be able to track whether the symposium was a success or not? Your objective, for example, may be to educate 5,000 Dermatologists on the new therapies in the current treatment landscape. Once you have decided what your objective is, you will need to put some key markers in place to judge the success of the project.
2. Benchmark your Net Promoter Score
Using a Net Promoter Score is a simple way of measuring the outcomes to thereby determine your success. Before the symposium, it’s very useful to know how likely it is on a scale of 1–10 that a person is to recommend the new therapy to someone else. Afterwards, an increase in this score demonstrates that you’ve hit your objective. Alternatively, no change or a decrease shows you’ve missed – A SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound) goal like this is a simple but clear way to measure your symposium success.
3. Provide training for all the speakers, including a full dress rehearsal with feedback
It’s important that the overall message is aligned with the one that the company wants to communicate and the one that the key opinion leaders are feeding to the audience. This also gives you control over which parts the speakers need to emphasise to really ingrain that section of information.
4. Brand everything, even the individual slides, correctly to your guidelines
Make sure your slides are branded up to the same specification to give a uniform look, rather than mismatched, across the speakers. Marginals gains like these really do add up and can make a big difference.
5. Choose the best time slot within budget
When it comes to choosing a timeslot, it’s not always that you’ll have the luxury of having a choice or if you do, cost can be an issue. However, from experience we’ve found lunchtime ones to be fuller than breakfast or evening sessions. So, if you do get the option, that’s the one to go for!
6. Provide food
Depending on the time of your symposium and your budget, it’s great to let people know before that you’ll be providing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We all know, provide the coffee in the morning and the people will follow. Plus, an added bonus is that people are more likely to be attentive during your talk.
7. Promote the symposium pre-event
We’ve found that companies will spend a lot of time on the event itself and not enough time promoting the symposium beforehand. The most cost-effective way to do this is to send out eBlast’s to your audience pre-event. You want to send a ‘save the time and date’ eBlast 2–3 weeks before the event and then a second email a few days before. This second email is also a great opportunity to record your benchmark NPS. You need to know what it was before hand to see if you’ve improved!
So, you’ve managed to fill the whole room with 1,000 healthcare professionals. But your object was to educate 5,000 people… what can you do to make sure that your content gets to the additional 4,000?
8. Capture the content of your symposium
The two mains ways we would recommend are to get a medical writer to attend the session or to film the symposium (ideally both!). The medical writer will attend the session, record the audio, take notes, and then along with the slides, write a symposium review article. By filming the event you have a great media that can be sliced up into digestible chunks and used it as a podcast, webcast, or just kept the way it is.
9. Arrange a ‘meet the speaker’ session
At your symposium, straight after, don’t let your speakers dash-off. Organise a session at your stand to let the audience come and ask any burning questions that they might have.
10. Re-purpose your content
After the session, to obtain that reach you are looking for and ensure your message gets out to the largest audience possible it is essential to repurpose the captured content. A variety of methods can help you get there. Initially, once both the article is written, and film is edited, publishing in the relevant therapeutic journal is the way to go. Accompanying the online video link alongside the article will drive further attention and engagement.
Next, what we’d personally do is feature the article in our journal newsletter and push it from our social media channels, which receive tens of thousands of interactions each month. A couple of weeks after – a personal supplement sent to your audience then assures that the content has seen the maximum audience.
11. Re-assess your Net Promoter Score
The ultimate and telling part of the strategy is to send one last eBlast with another NPS question to visualise the results by comparing this to your benchmark. With this final insight, an impact report can be formulated, which includes; the results of the project, the number of viewers and readers, time spent on the information, the geographic reach and breakdown, and last but not least, the NPS.
12. Partner with experts (for the above) when you don’t have the resources
Does this sound like the sort of campaign you’d like to run to ensure maximum return for your symposium? We are currently looking for a couple of companies to work in partnership with to get some great case study examples. There is only opportunity for two of these partnerships available, so to be considered, get in touch with us and we will help you make the most of your symposiums!