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5 Tips on How to Build a Successful Public Sector Event Program

Kay Logan

It was a record-breaking year for AFCEA Bethesda. The 12th Annual Health IT Summit, held January 15-16, 2020 in North Bethesda, Md., exceeded chapter goals for attendance, sponsorship, exhibitors, media coverage, and revenue.

Health IT Summit 2Prior to exceeding expectations, Naina Leo, President of the AFCEA Bethesda Chapter and Managing Director at Attain LLC., started with a strategic plan. She shares the following five tips that helped make the 2020 Health IT Summit a success:

Step #1: Choose Your Committee Carefully

Association leaders should choose committee leaders prior to the first committee meeting and ensure that they have a solid understanding of the event objectives, audience, and program content needed. Committee leads should have prior leadership experience and be willing to leverage personal and professional connections to work with committee members to build an engaging program. Don’t wait for the first meeting to choose who will do what, or chaos will ensue.

Step #2: Meet Regularly

Your first committee meeting with all stakeholders should occur between six and eight months prior to the event. Strive to meet at least once a month in person, if not weekly by phone. Sub-committee members should connect at least once a week for accountability, to ensure that the topic is refined, and the right speakers are approached. Keep your committee members on track at the meeting by not going off topic, and make sure the meetings end on time.

Step #3: Invite the Right Speakers

Once your topic areas are determined, develop a list of appropriate speakers for each session. The conversation around a topic important to the public sector should involve speakers or panelists at the same peer level. For example, do not place a Chief Information Officer on a panel with a Program Manager. Also, invite speakers who are familiar with the topic. Don’t invite a cyber-security expert to speak on a panel about Artificial Intelligence.

Step #4: Choose the Right Moderators

Once you have filled your panel session with the appropriate number and level of participants, choose a non-industry moderator who understands the topic as it relates to the public sector and can contribute to the discussion. Moderators should be energetic and engaging, but not afraid to ask the tough questions. Prior experience with moderating is always a plus.

Step #5: Take a Break

When building out the agenda, make sure to add in enough time for networking breaks. While attendees want to keep up to date on industry trends and issues, they also want to talk to their peers. The average time for a speaking slot at a conference is between 30 and 45 minutes, with 15 minutes of Q & A at the end to involve the audience. If your sessions go much longer than that, attendees will lose focus and interest.

For the 12th year in a row (the first 10 under predecessor ConnellyWorks) Yes& provided event managementHealth IT Summit 3 and program support for the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Summit, which attracted 967 attendees including senior executives and technology professionals from across government and industry. Attendees heard from 58 speakers who participated in 16 sessions and covered 12 topics related to technologies that are impacting nearly every aspect of healthcare, from medical research to operational management and patient care. A total of 34 sponsors and exhibitors showcased their products and solutions regarding new and emerging trends in digital services, artificial intelligence, automation, health analytics, and cyber-security.

Watch the recap video here

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Kay Logan