How to Create Engaging and Thoughtful Science-driven Game Plan For Educational Events
There are several reasons why you’d want to plan an educational, science-driven event: you get to play a critical role in developing or shedding light on a chosen field, create networking opportunities for people in the same field and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
Hosting educational events, however, presents a few more challenges than your average industry conference. The audience has varying expectations, and the learning level is often dictated by continuing education requirements.
Many event planners are wholly unfamiliar with handling the administrative side of such an event and what actually goes into successfully planning one. But if you’re up to the challenge, this guide will help you understand how to make your science-driven event one of the most successful yet.
Educational event attendees are always looking for:
- A strong plan with topics or subject matter of interest, continuous learning opportunities, and cutting-edge treatments or techniques.
- Hands-on learning experience or other interactive education
- An ability to network with researchers, practitioners and science professionals
- An experience tailored to their education and career levels.
Here are some crucial steps to consider as you plan to provide attendees with what they expect.
Focus On The Science
While many elements are crucial to a successful science-driven event, this one trumps them all. Attendees want a high-quality learning experience, and good science will define your event’s success. When identifying the areas of study for the event, the focus should be on your target audience. What subject matters and topics will attract significant interest? You can determine this through a call for papers. But new areas of study, as well as emerging trends in the field of study, often grab the attention of the audience.
More specifically, you’ll need:
- Most Sought after researchers and speakers, the best in their field
- Continuing education event sessions
- Activities and sessions for all career stages
- A call for papers to allow attendees to share their areas of study and findings as well
- A combination of in-depth subject matter and practices as well as general sessions
- A hands-on interactive learning experience with presentations on publication findings
- Multiple tracks for attendees to choose their learning
- At least a networking or awards session focused on innovative research and findings
Some event planners host pre- and post-sessions or mini-tracks focused on special interests within their larger event. You can also host a special, free interactive workshop the day before the event’s official start.
Cultivate More Learning Opportunities
Scientists, researchers, and physicians have several opportunities to attend events. The competition is, however, so steep that it’s difficult for them to take time off from their educational pursuits, research, or practice, not to mention scheduling budgetary restrictions and conflicts. To your attendees, the quality of the educational event is of paramount importance.
The first thing your attendees want to know is the program, including:
- The topics to be covered
- Who will be presenting
- How the information will be covered (hands-on learning or lecture-style)
- Which professionals and influencers will be attending
- Additional learning opportunities offered
Additional learning opportunities don’t have to be restricted to the actual event and could include:
- Creating an online group or community where collaborative learning is possible outside of the event at their convenience.
- Videos of the learning sessions that could be shared with colleagues post-event. You can make these free to attendees or sell them as a package.
- Virtual reality simulation packages of the training and concepts covered.
- Podcasts of the learning sessions on cutting-edge topics.
- Boards where attendees can share research materials.
- Opportunities to steam the event live for virtual attendees.
Working with local thought leaders allows you to create a different experience than one with single-circuit speakers.
Create Time for Exciting Breaks to Stand Out from the Competition
Most science-driven event planners work with committees to attract the most well-known, sought-after researchers and scientists in the specialty because they know presenters and keynotes are some of the top draws.
However, creating exciting breaks is another way to gain a competitive edge. These can be two-fold. You can create a general break from daily professional life to inspire and introduce them to new practices and research. Or you can have literal breaks during the event. These breaks needn’t just focus on snacks; you can add a change of scenery into the learning experience that provides a break from the event room.
Breaks are still valuable opportunities for discussions and networking, as well as offering some local culture. If you have smaller groups, they can break off to enjoy a session at a historic site or add an activity that involves learning historical, and scientific practices in the area.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
- Group activities to enhance their enjoyment of the city.
- Educational exchanges with local corporations.
- Organize a trip to attend a different learning session that coincides with your event, such as an academic lecture on a subject matter of interest to some of your attendees.
In addition, think about opportunities that could interest your attendees, like:
- Attending live performances
- Exercise clubs or walking meetings
- Exploration of historical sites
You can assist attendees in exploring the city by planning your own group activity. For example, the Canadian Paediatric Society arranged an early bird run for its attendees each morning.
Leverage Effective, Cutting-Edge Tech at Your Event
Thoughtful educational events often leverage technology in two ways. The event tech that attendees use virtually or on-site to help them connect with others, navigate the event, and answer survey and poll questions. Next, there’s the technology that innovators, sponsors, and exhibitors present as part of their education sessions.
Tips for event app tech:
- You must market for the adoption of your event app. Telling people you have an app in your event brochure is not an incentive for them to use it. Consider bringing the app company to your event to help with training.
- Publicize the app in advance so attendees can have experience using it and connect with others before the event.
- Choose wisely for a good user experience. It should be user-friendly and practical, and there must be a reason for attendees to use it, such as ticketing, searching the abstracts, or accessing the agenda.
- Consider making it fun through gamification or incentives to increase adoption.
Another growing trend in science-driven educational events is the use of virtual reality. This technology enables hands-on training and experimentation that otherwise would be difficult to achieve.
When choosing a venue, keep technology in mind. Will your requirements be met, and what value can the local community add? A venue with a good combination of corporation and education will attract thought leaders who share the technology being built in the area with the audience for a memorable experience that can inspire attendees in innovative ways.
Have a Post-Event Plan
You’ve taken valuable time planning an ideal networking and learning event for people in various educational or scientific fields. There’s no reason for learning to end when the event does. You can take some steps to ensure learning continues, such as:
- Conduct an exit survey to determine what attendees enjoyed and what they’d change. Do they plan on attending the next event? Why or why not? The gathered data should then be applied to your next event.
- Publish your event proceedings in relevant journals. Negotiate your ability to do this before the event.
- Send a recap of learning and networking events to your mailing list.
- Upload videos and photos to your website and other appropriate social media platforms. Be careful not to upload sessions to public spaces if private information is discussed.
- Send a gratitude message with links to the event sessions (if applicable) and photos or videos to those who attended.
- Poll sponsors to understand their experiences and get feedback.
- Create a networking and learning portal to keep attendees connected and discussions continuing long after the event ends.
Other Important Things to Consider
- Security– Check whether you need to hire any security for the event.
- Accommodation– If your event lasts more than a day, consider whether you need to organize accommodation for any participants. Even if you aren’t paying, ensure you provide a list of suggested places in various price brackets.
- Food– If you are catering, don’t forget special dietary requirements. Always sample the menu to ensure quality.
- Pricing and ticketing– When pricing, try to cover your costs. However, beware of charging too much for the tickets. If you are planning to sell virtual tickets, here are some things you should consider when choosing a virtual ticketing platform:
Ensure it is:
- Easy to use – attendees should be able to register and buy tickets on the same page
- Customizable – so you can easily create a custom page for the event, including a custom URL)
- Mobile friendly – as attendees are just as likely to be registering via mobile as on a laptop or desktop
Ensure it has:
- Efficient customer support
- Good data capture and reporting tools – you can easily track how many registrations or tickets have been sold.
- Multiple price options – for setting different pricing tiers and delivering different ticket types
It’s also good practice to give attendees a clear deadline by which they can withdraw from the event and receive a refund.
1. Drafting a program– draft a program for your event alongside choosing the content. Never underestimate how long drafting programs take; it is not an easy task.
The main things to consider include:
- The format: how many slots are open? Will you have parallel sessions or a single strand of speakers? There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Parallel sessions allow for more speakers but may be disappointing and frustrating for attendees if they miss key sessions.
- Make sure the event is well-paced but still offers plenty of refreshment breaks and chances for participants to socialize.
- If you are holding panel sessions, ensure you clarify the session format and timing rules with your chosen panel chairs.
Don’t forget to consider your attendees’ travel arrangements and times when scheduling sessions.
Before finalizing the program, ensure you run through it from your audience’s perspective. Good keynote speakers and quality content are the skeletons of your event, but ensure you’ve built plenty of opportunities for your attendees to exchange ideas, network, and enjoy themselves around the intellectual stuff.
2. Choosing a venue– Selecting a great venue for your event is another vital part of the planning process. Here are some crucial things to consider:
- Location: Choose a location that is easy and convenient to access
- Transport links: pick a venue close to public transport links.
- Facilities: make sure it has up-to-date technology. An in-house technical support team is also a huge help.
- Size: how many people do you need to accommodate? A half-empty or overcrowded room is not ideal.
- Food: a venue offering in-house catering means one less thing to plan for.
- Accommodation: if your event lasts more than a day, ensure there is plenty of convenient accommodation close by.
Moving Forward With Game Planning Your Next Engaging Educational Event
Whether you are working on a hybrid or virtual event, hosting engaging educational events can boost your profile in the industry and improve membership engagement.
With an effective game plan for your event, you can confidently take the next steps and create a rewarding event for your target audience.
If you need additional guidance to get started, request a demo and learn more about event planning.