07. Set Date, Length, and Cost

Once you have identified your topic, determined the champion, selected organizing committee members, and selected forum speakers you are ready to begin preparations. First and foremost, the date of the forum must be set. It is critical at this point to set a date that does not overlap with other scheduled meetings. One should thoroughly check through calendars of other societies and organizations to determine the best time to hold the forum. Also, you must recognize that certain times of the year, such as holidays and school sessions, will effect participation.

The next thing you should set is the length of the forum. This value will be depended on several items, (1) The number of speakers, (2) Whether or not you will be conducting breakout sessions, (3) Whether or not you plan to have open periods for discussion, (4) Whether or not you will hold a poster or exhibitor session. Care must be taken on the length of the forum. The overall length of any forum will be driven by the selected topic and its’ value to industry.

Finally, an admission fee must be set. This amount should not be more than what it takes to accommodate each attendee and pay for meeting cost. It is absolutely crucial that you outline what each attendee will receive for the cost. Items such as hotel accommodations, transportation, meals, materials, and reports should be included in the forum cost whenever possible. If paying for items is to perplex or cumbersome, such as having to make your own accommodations and transportation, having to pay for meals separately, and having to purchase report separately can all have an effect on the overall turn out. For this reason, it is a good idea to have the capability to process both checks and credit cards. This simplifies things for the organizers and provides the participant a flexible means of payment.

Lessons Learned:

  • Forum date should not overlap with other meetings so attendance will not be deterred
  • The date of forum should be flexible and perhaps a back-up date should be set
  • Too short or too long of a forum may discourage attendance
  • Don’t over charge for admittance
  • Both checks and credit cards should be accepted as payment.