Think like an attendee – walk the event. Where will the delegates arrive and sign in? Where will delegates go next? Where are the toilets, refreshments or other contact points? How easy is it for delegates to get to the venue and navigate around the event?
The location and site of your study day can be critical in determining success or failure. When choosing the venue consider room capacity; if you will need ramps or elevators; whether you want a podium, stage or special equipment; and how many tables and chairs will be needed for delegates.
A single topic area can work and some regions alternate these with more general topics. Singular events may only appeal to a niche audience but it could be a large niche audience!
A CT study day (or other single topic area) is unlikely to attract many ultrasound colleagues and vice-versa. However, if the number of potential delegates is large enough and the subject engages them, a single subject event can be very successful.
Topics that can appeal to many areas are CPD; a specific patient type; certain staff needs; topics that are non-specific to a single modality/area.
Think about holding the regional AGM within the study day. This is an opportunity for delegates to meet new committee members and find out about their work.
Ensure there is a wide range of speakers that are known to the anticipated audience, eg eminent consultants, professors, educationalists, advanced practitioners.
Try to get recommendations for a top-quality speaker, ie from someone who has already listened to them present. Poor quality speakers will result in poor delegate feedback.
It might be a good idea to invite a patient to speak about their experience in radiotherapy or imaging.
The cost of putting on the day needs to be calculated – venue hire; parking; food and drinks (coffee on arrival/mid-morning/lunchtime/mid-afternoon); IT services (projecting, sound and so on); printed handouts; goodie bags; reimbursing speakers for their travel; thank you gifts for speakers; and any other items with a cost. The total cost divided by paying attendees should give a you a ticket price but you need to know your break-even point in case you need to cancel. You also need to know the cancellation date penalties (ie @ six weeks = 50% total payment). The number of attendees needs to include speakers/others and be no more than the room occupancy limit (as determined by the fire regulations).
Also consider renting some stand/table space on the day, to trusts or other employers which need to attract staff – because if they’re looking, then members who turn up for a study day (especially on a Saturday) are ideal candidates.
The committee should meet and agree in advance what they think is a reasonable price for the study day and any discounts, eg early bird, retired members etc.
Cut your cloth according to what members are currently prepared to pay.
Contact and invite your local student radiographers at a fixed subsidised rate.
Advertise extensively – twitter, email, Synergy News, the website. Have a save the date prepared.
Posters need to catch the imagination, it’s that first engagement that gets a decision to attend. Eye catching advertising is key.
Advertisements should include details of the study day, eg date, time, location, cost, topics, parking, food, accessibility. A picture is worth a 1000 words and leaves the viewer to interpret in their own way, so a topical graphic is essential.
Remember – however fabulous the venue, it is the content and potential takeaways that will sell the event.
In these cash and time strapped times, it is crucial that delegates have some learning outcomes. What will they or possibly more importantly, their employers, get out of them attending? Big CPD hits are required.
Have the study day endorsed by the SoR.
If you are applying for CPD now endorsement, you will need to ensure you get the details from the speakers, so that you know the outcomes and any other information you will require (see SoR website for more details http://bit.ly/2gFKpb6).
Decide on a hashtag and promote that all over the event and beforehand if you can, to encourage delegates to tweet.
Utilise technology to engage the audience, eg Poll Everywhere software. This has been used very successfully at a number of study days already.
Once your event is over, take time to reflect back on it. Also consider the entire planning process and the feedback provided. Reflecting back will help you improve the event for the next time.
Make sure the day is chaired well. Timing is important as a courtesy for the audience and speakers. Brief chairpersons and the especially speakers comprehensively, prior to the event.
Double check how many hours you have rented the venue for – this will affect the timings of speakers, presentations and breaks.
What time will registration be open on the day? You will need to arrive before that to ensure that everything is ready for delegates, some of whom may arrive very early.
Remember to offer food and beverages for breakfast, mid-morning breaks, lunch and any other breaks. What kind of food will you serve? A full lunch? Snack foods? Buffet? Sit down? What kind of beverages will be available?
Many thanks to Helen Wickham, Regional Officer for the Yorkshire and North Trent Region; Rachel Harris, SoR Professional and Education Manager; Robert Skears, ADC Delegate Lead, Midlands; and Darren Walls, Chair, London Region SoR Committee.