Event Ideas for Breakout Sessions and Continuing Education Credits

Breakout Sessions

Select a nice breadth in session topics if you are conducting breakout sessions. While they must still remain targeted on the theme of your event, this will allow participants to explore a variety of topics that may hold even greater interest and value for them. Additionally, by offering some of the more popular presentations more than once, you allow attendees to make more comfortable decisions about the sessions they want to attend and when.

Presentation handouts can be burdensome and costly to print, travel with, and hand out. Additionally, most handouts have a very short lifespan, often relegated to a drawer or pile once attendees return to their daily grind. Finally, all that page flipping during a presentation can detract from the message when the presenters want the audience’s eyes at the front of the room, on them.

Still, a common complaint about not having handouts surfaces when they are not available. What is a presenter to do?

Recommendation: Offer the complete presentation and any accompanying handouts on the event website. This will allow those who want the handouts to get them and will produce more exposure for the website.

Continuing Education Units (CEU)

Per Wikipedia, continuing education units or credits are defined as

“a measure used in continuing education programs, particularly those required in a licensed profession in order for the professional to maintain the license. Examples of people who need CEUs include architects, engineers, educators, nurses, mental health professionals, and social workers. […] Any organization may award a traditional CEU without requiring any accreditation. With a traditional CEU, an employer or other organization must decide on an individual basis whether to honor the CEU from a training provider.” (Retrieved from Wikipedia, Continuing education unit, at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_education_unit on November 10, 2010.)

Offering continuing education credits can be a good draw for attendees, who not only get to experience your event but also build their resumes and help keep their certifications current. Include an attendance sheet at the front of the room for people to sign in and sign out once they’ve attended the complete presentation. This helps ensure people actually sit through the presentation to earn the credit instead of signing up for the credit and ducking out early. You may want to place a person in charge of monitoring this process for fielding questions and ensuring the process is followed properly.

Wrap Up

Make surveys available for completion at the end of each session or send the survey out electronically within a day or two of your event. Waiting for more than a couple days (even a couple hours) will allow attendees to cool off and participation in the survey will be lower, so do your best to survey while the participants are fresh from the experience.

Best: Allow participants to respond to speaker evaluations and surveys while they’re still at the event. Not only will their ideas for improving the experience be fresh in their minds, but it eliminates the need for them to review their notes in order to provide feedback later. Additionally, you won’t be taking their time away from other things once they are back in the real world. It may mean using paper and compiling the results and comments by hand, but it’s better than not having the feedback at all.

The event production team should meet one last time after the event to debrief on what worked, what could have been improved and to discuss the survey results. Take good notes here. This will be “best practices” guidance for the next event.

This concludes the series on event promotion. I’m sure there will be more later, but I hope you have found this material to be helpful and informative! Comments are welcome and encouraged!