Behind the Scenes: Transforming Research into a Two-Day Program
Our third Q1 Productions: Behind the Scenes piece explores our approach to translating industry research into a curated roadmap of agenda topics to deliver knowledge share and peer engagement to conference attendees. Learn more about the internal and external collaboration needed to design our dynamic conferences.
Like everything we do at Q1 Productions, the process of developing our conference sessions is grounded in extensive research, which is how we’re able to get into the nitty-gritty of our audience’s most pressing challenges. One of the best tools we have at our disposal is our tenacity; that boldness when it comes to asking the right open-ended questions enables us to translate hard-hitting information into content that resonates deeply with our audience. Ultimately, we are in the business of bridging the divide between the challenge and the solution.
But how does the Q1 Productions program manager actually take that body of information gained from research and transform it into a full conference? Let’s take a look:
The Topic Roadmap: Translating Research into Actionable Conference Topics
As the program manager gains invaluable qualitative information by conducting at least thirty interviews with a variety of people working directly within the industry, that intelligence eventually culminates in what we call the “topic roadmap.” A living document which synthesizes all of the real-time insight we’ve gathered, the topic roadmap enables the program manager to turn those complex challenges into clear, concise session topics that are guaranteed to resonate with the audience.
Each program manager has their own unique process, but the core is the same: As a topic is mentioned more times during research, it increases in importance on the topic roadmap. Sometimes a particular challenge will jump out at us during one call, but if it’s not mentioned again, it may not be the most impactful area to include in the agenda. Judgement calls come into play, but these choices hinge on the expertise of our industry partners.
After carefully developing and re-working that roadmap throughout our time researching, we’re then able to go into the writing process with a clear plan.
The Writing Process: How It All Comes Together
Once the program manager has that solid body of research under their belt and that beautiful topic roadmap is shaping up, it’s time to start actually writing those sessions. Does that mean we stop doing research, relax, put our feet up, put on some calming music, and write whatever we think the audience might like to hear? Nope! Like many forms of writing, session writing is an extension of learning itself. We keep our ears to the ground, keep conducting interviews, and check in with our research contacts to make sure we’re nailing those concepts. That level of collaboration with our audience really sets us apart from other conference organizers.
Our goal in writing sessions is always to think first and foremost about what the audience has identified as the most critical challenges, and then to find creative and fresh ways of exploring those. Because many of our conferences have a longstanding history and their own fan base, we know it’s important to deliver a unique experience from year to year. This means that if a topic is still a pressing concern and needs to be addressed for the second year in a row, it will be critical for us to take a new angle. This might mean changing up the format – if we had a presentation on the impact of a particular regulatory change last year and that change is still impacting the day-to-day work of our audience, we might opt to include more perspectives on that topic by writing it as a panel discussion this time around.
The Collaboration: How We Make Sure We’ve Gotten it Right
We’re constantly checking in on our research, refining our topics and even going so far as to send draft-sessions to some of our research contacts for input. What better way to make sure the content is the best it can be than by actually asking our audience for their opinion, even before a speaker has come on board to cover the topic?
Another key piece of the writing process is the input we receive from our own internal leadership. With each member of our leadership team having at least 5-10 years of experience in life sciences conference production, each with unique expertise in different areas, we really know our stuff and can tell which techniques will work at the event and which may not deliver the educational experience we’re striving for. Each session undergoes edits from at least three sets of eyes, and the final result is a robust, polished agenda.
In the next iteration of this series, Senior Conference Program Manager Alison Osborn will highlight the process of connecting our curated topic roadmap with industry leaders, regulatory experts, payers, legal teams, and other relevant stakeholders – our conference speakers.
Nina Dunn is a Conference Program Manager at Q1 Productions in the Chicago office. Nina graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in psychology, and she pursues her passion for contributing to the advancement of educational opportunities through her work and volunteer pursuits.