Tag: abstracts

Abstract Management: How to Source Great Content for Your Next Conference

Are you looking for great speakers for your annual conference?  Do you want your sessions to have memorable presentations with engaging content?  Of course, you do.  We all do.  Because at the end of the day, we know that great content is what truly matters to attendees.  Walking away from an event knowing that you’ve had a unique opportunity to learn or engage with something new is why people want to attend events in the first place.

If you’re an association or some kind of professional body hosting an annual conference, then you know that what stands at the heart of a great conference programme is your ability to source great speakers who will bring something new and exciting to the event.  And this comes through a well-executed abstract management process.

Abstracts Are Building Blocks of Successful Conference Programmes

To attract the right speakers, conference organisers typically ask members of their community to submit their presentation proposals so as to find the most interesting and relevant content for their event.  Once this call for abstracts (or papers) is sent out, the submissions are then reviewed by a team of reviewers whose aim is to select those presentations that promise to deliver a high-quality programme to attendees..

The abstract process is also important because it offers the opportunity to showcase new research in the event’s relevant field.  You wouldn’t want to attend the same conference each year where the same speakers present the same content.  By sourcing new and diverse research, you’re more likely to attract the right attendees and get them to come again the following year.

But getting the abstract management process isn’t easy.  Imagine asking one of your colleagues to give you feedback on a short document you’ve put together.  Sounds simple enough.  Give them a hundred documents to read and you’ll likely encounter some resistance. Now imagine asking ALL your colleagues to read a hundred documents and give you feedback.  That’s going to take some chasing. And how would you collate all their feedback?  That’s essentially the task the abstracts manager has to undertake.

Last time, we looked at the first stage of the abstract management process and some of the key things conference organisers need to think about when managing abstract submissions around their events – How to Manage Abstract Submissions for Successful Conference Programmes.  This week, we’re focusing on the next stage of the process – which is when the call for abstracts closes, and the process of reviews begins.

5 Ways to Improve Your Abstract Review Process

Once presentation submissions are made, the review process kicks off in order to find the most interesting content to present at the conference.  Yet deciding which abstracts to accept is likely to involve a pool of reviewers, with different experts needed for the various topics on offer. Some may be reviewed randomly and some be allocated to individual reviewers. There may be many rounds and stages of reviews, each with its own criteria and grading requirements. And all of this requires a lot of time and can be incredibly difficult to coordinate.

Have a look below at five simple tips that can help you get the most out of your abstract reviewers:

1. Be Selective with Reviewers – It is an obvious point but an important one, nevertheless. Make sure you assign the right reviewers to the right topics.  If the reviewer has expertise in the area they’re reviewing, then this will already save them an enormous amount of time understanding the content that’s been submitted to them. This also means they’re in a better position to score abstracts critically, which will have a more positive impact on the quality of your conference content. Be open with your selections too – don’t stick to the same reviewers year after year.  New ones can put a fresh perspective on things and bring about exciting new content from new speakers.

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2. Be Clear About Review Criteria– The clearer your instructions to reviewers, the less challenges you’ll have at your end. Clearly define goals, deadlines, expectations and review criteria. Not doing this will result in inconsistency and again, can have a negative impact on your content.  Have clear guidelines on the kind of criteria they need to follow in the abstract evaluation process. So, this can include things like ensuring the abstract provides audiences with new information on a topic, that it addresses important industry or academia issues, that it is appealing to the target audience and that it matches the overall theme of the conference.  Whatever grading system you use, it’s always a good idea to also leave an open text box for reviewers to put their own comments – they may have suggestions which can add real value to the content of your presentations.

3. Be Realistic About Timelines – To get the best out of your abstract reviewers, you need to be considerate about their time. Give them enough time to accept your invitation and plenty of notice if they can’t. Make sure they know what timelines you’re working on – when they need to be available, when reviews need to be completed by, details on print deadlines for abstract journals and posters and so on. If you’ve done similar conferences in the past, then you’ll probably have an idea on numbers when it comes to submissions across different topic areas. Make sure you communicate that information with your reviewers so they have some idea on scale and can plan their time accordingly.

4. Plan for the Unexpected – It’s quite common for abstract submission deadlines to be extended, so be prepared and communicate the possibility of this happening with your reviewers beforehand as this means they’ll have less time to complete their reviews. Equally, you may be in a situation where during your review process, you launch another call for papers on a subject matter that has just become topical (for example: scientific funding in a post-Brexit world). If it’s relevant to your audience, then it’s probably something you don’t want your conference programme to miss out on.  Lining up your reviewers for unexpected changes like this should always be factored into your review management timeline.

5. Monitor Progress– Stay on top of how many abstracts have been reviewed, which are incomplete and which of your reviewers are the most or least active.  This will identify potential problem areas and help you assess the best way of addressing them. For example, if you have a large number of reviewers who start the grading process but don’t finish it, it may indicate a lack of commitment.  So, you may need to get them replaced.  Or perhaps they’ve got too many abstracts to review and you have to reallocate submissions to other reviewers. A good abstract management solution can help you track this kind of data and provide you with the real-time analysis you need for making more informed decisions.


Your abstract reviewers are just as important as your sponsors, exhibitors and all the other partners you deal with around your conference.  Most of them volunteer their time to make your conference better, so it makes sense to make their jobs as easy as possible. Simply the process by giving them clear and defined goals.  Make sure they understand your deadlines, review criteria and expectations.   Offer support and guidance through open communication channels and never forget to thank them as you’re probably going to need their help again next year.  Following these best practice guidelines will put you in a good position in developing successful conference programmes.  It will also help you avoid what may otherwise be a long drawn-out and often frustrating process in managing abstract reviews.

Are there any other tips you’d like to add to this list?  Please let us know as we’re always keen on publishing your views!

The Eventsforce Abstracts solution can simplify the whole process of abstract management – from inviting and reviewing online abstract submissions to building agendas, managing conference invitations, registrations and payments. It also provides powerful tools to monitor, manage and communicate with everyone involved. Click here to learn more.

How to Manage Abstract Submissions for Successful Conference Programmes

As a conference planner, we know how important it is to find great topics and speakers.  It can have a huge impact on registrations and an even bigger impact on how well your event is perceived.  However, managing the abstract submissions and reviews process for your conference is complicated enough when everything goes according to plan – let alone when it’s rushed or hasn’t been carefully thought through.

How Abstract Management Solutions Can Help

Of course, there are many solutions out there like Eventsforce Abstracts, which can simplify the whole process of gathering and managing online abstract submissions, as well as helping reviewers assess these submissions quickly with little hassle. These automated platforms can help conference managers build abstract submission forms, modify submission topics, select expert reviewers to assess the merit of abstracts, as well as invite select people to present their abstracts and papers.  The presentations are allocated to specific sessions and are also automatically updated in the main conference agenda – ensuring conference managers are in full control at every stage, saving them time and supporting them with all the tools they need to manage the evolution of their entire conference programme.

But as much as technology can help – there are many common pitfalls which can create problems for conference managers along the way.  In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the important things organisers need to think about when managing abstract submissions around their events. We’ll be publishing a similar post in the next month that will focus on getting the reviewing and judging process right, which is the last step in securing great speakers and content for your next event.

Quick Tips to Improve the Management of Abstract Submissions

In order for a conference to be successful, it needs to attract the kind of speakers and content that will help facilitate discussions and educate those delegates coming to the event.  Make sure you get the process right with the following best practice tips:

Make Sure You Know What You Want – One of the most frustrating oversights in managing abstracts is kicking off the process, receiving submissions and realizing later on that there is information you need but haven’t asked. You can add missing fields to online forms pretty quickly these days but getting in touch with those who have already completed their submission forms can be a timely and frustrating process. Finalise all the information you need at the planning stage – talk to experienced colleagues and get other stakeholders involved from the very start. Everyone should agree on what you’re trying to achieve and why – this way, you’ll be in a better position to identify gaps and won’t need to make as many last-minute changes to your submission forms.

Don’t Neglect Instructions – You do need to provide a detailed guide for authors so that they can understand the submission process clearly.  Make use of the instructions section of your call for abstracts page to communicate clearly and concisely exactly what information you need from the author or potential speaker so that they know what they are expected to provide. This can cut down on a lot of confusion and wasted time for both submitters and reviewers. You could also publish a timeline that outlines important dates, including the deadline for abstract submissions, when authors need to be available, when submissions will be approved and when places in the conference programme will be confirmed.

Get the Balance Right – It’s important to provide clear guidance on abstract submissions but be careful not to overwhelm people.  We’ve seen some conferences use five pages of highly structured forms giving instructions on how to submit abstracts on one topic!  Will your academic really read through all those pages?  Probably not. The reality is that most academics submit their papers to multiple conferences and they’ll submit the same abstract to each one. So, don’t over-complicate things as you may risk losing potential speakers.  And remember, it may be someone other than the author filling in the submission form and they may not have the technical expertise to edit the text or reformat it in a way that meets the criteria of an overly cumbersome submission process.

Standardise Formatting – Make sure that your submitters have a clear idea on the format you want them to use when filling in particular fields on your form.  Using predefined formats on fields that require numbers, for example, will reduce the probability of error.  It will also make sure that the data is captured in the same way as it is captured in the databases of some of the other systems you use around your conference (registration, CRM, membership and so on). You can also structure the abstract content into different sections (introduction, main content, summary) which can be useful for typesetting.  This way, you’ll save time in exporting that information when creating abstract journals or posters as all your content is structured in one standardised format.

Ask Relevant Questions –  As a general rule, the more clicks it takes to complete a submission form, the more excuse your abstract authors have to walk away and look elsewhere.  Make sure that the information you’re asking for will either help them or help you get the content you need for a successful conference programme.  For example, you may ask if their paper has already been published in an industry journal and if a particular publication keeps coming up, then perhaps that’s somewhere you need to be targeting to get the abstract submissions you’re looking for.

Offer Flexibility – You want to make the process of submitting abstracts as simple as possible. So, it’s a good idea to allow authors and speakers the choice to edit or amend their abstract submissions prior to the deadline date.  Equally, make room in your planning on extending the deadline as most people leave these things to the last minute and it’s an opportunity for you to get more interesting content for your conference programme.

Monitor Progress – Stay on top of how many abstracts are coming in, which submissions are incomplete and what topic/category/stream areas are doing better than others – if you use an abstract management solution, then it will monitor this information for you in real-time. This will identify potential problem areas and help you assess the best way of addressing them. For example, an overwhelming number of submissions in one topic area (over others) may indicate that the topic description is too broad and that it’s not being interpreted by authors and submitters in the correct way.   So, you may decide to sub-categorise and create new sub-topics instead.


A well-thought out process for abstract submissions can have a huge impact on ensuring you deliver a high-quality programme for your conference delegates.  It also opens up the opportunity to showcase new and game-changing research with the wider community.

If managing your call for abstracts is a challenge for your organisation,  Eventsforce offers a comprehensive solution that gives you full control of the entire abstracts management process – from inviting and reviewing abstract submissions to building agendas, managing conference invitations, registrations and payments. It also provides powerful automated tools to monitor, manage and communicate with everyone involved. Click here to learn more.

Are there any other tips you’d like to add to this list?  Please let us know as we’re always keen on publishing your views!

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Why Your Events Could Benefit from Multilingual Websites

Choosing which event to attend is no longer restricted by borders and time zones, as delegates are increasingly happy to travel further afield for the right event. They are spurred not only by the abundance of cheap flights and budget accommodation, but by a real desire to learn about the latest innovations, best practice guidelines and the opportunity to network and share ideas with colleagues and peers from across the world.

But are we doing enough to reach delegates beyond our country’s borders?  A study by the European Commission in 2011 revealed that 90% of Internet users in the EU, said that when given a choice of languages, they always visited a website in their own language. A similar survey by the Common Sense Advisory in the US also found that 72% of consumers were more likely to buy a product or service online if the information provided was in their native language1. With this in mind and the fact that most people now research for events online, doesn’t it make sense for your events to have multilingual websites?

Why Multilingual Websites Can Boost Your Events

Untitled design (13)Multilingual sites today present one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing your events, attracting new delegates, building relationships with them and giving your organisation an international outlook:

  • Shows You Care – It doesn’t take much effort to create a multilingual website (more below) but that extra effort shows your delegates that you care about them and are considerate of their needs, which makes them more likely to book onto your event. We all know that personalisation is important to our delegates and what could be more personal than talking to them in their own language?
  • Builds Trust with Your Delegates – Trust is an important part of doing business. Trust in an event and the event organiser is even more important if a delegate is travelling from abroad. Communicating with these delegates in their native language helps them feel secure, understand what they are buying and who they are buying from.
  • Helps You Stay Ahead of Your Competitors – Make no mistake, your event has competition. Whether it’s from other events, alternative ways of spending budgets or time constraints, your delegate needs to make difficult choices. If they only go to a few events a year, you need to make yours stand out. Offering a multilingual website will give your event a competitive edge by demonstrating to delegates that your organization thinks, works and deals internationally.
  • Improves Search Engines Optimisation – Search engines lead people to your site. While it’s tempting to view Google as the only search engine that matters, in reality this isn’t the case as in many countries, such as France, Japan and China, Google is not the default search engine. Baidu is popular in China, Acara in Japan and Voila in France. Such search engines are a key to tapping those markets unless they have access to a particular language though your multilingual event website, then your event will not be found. In addition, search engines like Google are developing the capacity to run searches in foreign languages.  Having your website available in those languages helps to ensure it will be picked up in searches.

But the Internet is in English

If you assume your delegates speak your language well enough to skip the translation step, you’re wrong. Today only 35% of the Internet’s content is in English, and this number continues to diminish. Russian, Spanish and Portuguese, for example, are continuing to trend upward with no sign of slowing down.  If you are targeting delegates who speak these languages, it is worth considering translating your content to better reach and connect with them. And while other languages like German, French and Japanese are trending down, they still represent such a large portion of the online community that it is worth thinking through your targeting approach to those markets as well1.

It’s a Lot Simpler Than You Think

Having the ability to communicate to a whole new international audience in their own language will undoubtedly bring results not only in a financial sense but also in terms of marketing and creating awareness of your event. And luckily, creating these multilingual event websites isn’t a complicated process if you consider the following basic requirements:

Make Sure Your Event Technology Supports It – Most event management or registration software these days offer a multilingual module, which allows important pages on your event website including those for registration and agendas to be displayed in several popular world languages of your choice.  By providing tools that allow you to automatically translate things like website headings, button texts, warning messages and email communication, the software helps you copy templates from one language to another in no time. Organisations like the British Council do this with their in-country events and the system has proved to be very successful.

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Staff Resources – If it’s a simple event website with a registration form that collects basic delegate information (name, country and contact details), then having staff that can speak the language isn’t entirely necessary as you can manage most of it through an online translation service like Google Translate. In most cases, however, you will need to have someone on your team who has a working knowledge of the language to oversee all translation requirements and more importantly, manage all delegate communication – from sending registration confirmation emails, making changes to agendas and managing requests.

Click to get in touchIf you don’t have the staff resources, then there are other affordable options.  You can hire a freelance translator through services like Upwork and Fiverr, that offer hundreds of talented and reliable people to work with. Alternatively, you can also use an online translation service like Unbabel, that combines artificial intelligence with crowdsourced human translation to deliver fast and high quality services to companies who want to reach international markets.

Written by Lynda Browne, Client Loyalty Manager, Eventsforce

1 Unbabel: Top Languages of the Internet, Today and Tomorrow


Event Technology Integration is a Top Priority for Associations

Dan_image_for_webTalking tech today is… Daniel Slavin, Business Development Manager at Eventsforce

Daniel is well known and respected for being able to shape association events and conferences through the intelligent and accountable use of event technology. With valuable experience helping associations meet their organisational goals, Daniel demonstrates to associations how event technology can maximise the value of their conferences and how associations can effectively measure their conference ROI using the reporting data that matters.

You recently attended Technology for Associations Congress – is it fair to say all of the associations in attendance were keen to learn about how technology could help them?

Yes, and this is an understatement! The very nature of the event brought technology to the forefront. There was a clear understanding amongst the attendees that technology is essential to helping a progressive Association succeed, whether this is by expanding their membership, understanding existing members better, or putting on even better conferences. The reason behind all of this is to enable them to deliver the best possible service to their members who form the backbone of any Association.

As someone who has worked with Associations, helping them use technology in an intelligent and cost-effective way, their enthusiasm for the technology available wasn’t a surprise to me at all and it was great to see so many Associations showing keen interest in the solutions that we are able to offer here at Eventsforce.

Some people believe that Associations are technology averse – what would you say to these people?

I’d say that in the past these sort of views may be true. In some Associations any sort of investment is seen as a ‘cost’ but this cost is often viewed without the corresponding ‘benefit’. Technology is placed in the same bracket. Yes there is a cost to technology, in terms of both time and resource, but this doesn’t exceed the benefits offered such as the time-saving elimination of admin and repetitive tasks, making processes faster and more accurate, enhanced reporting for real conference understanding. There is also the peace of mind in knowing that all of your systems are comprehensively and securely integrated. But things are changing, and this change has been driven by the Associations themselves.

As I mentioned previously, it’s all about the members.  In all areas of their lives they want ‘more’, ‘better’ and ‘faster’ They rightly ask, ‘Why shouldn’t our Associations give us these as well?’ The Associations I work with have embraced technology as a solution to meet these challenges head on, and the more technologically averse are being dragged forward whether they like it or not simply because they can’t afford not to.

Were there any particular topics that the Associations were keen to focus on?

The interest in technology was wide, but I noticed three topics emerging that seemed to be of key importance to Associations in general:

Understanding conferences better to demonstrate ROI and deliver better service: 

Associations wanted to understand their conferences better, moving beyond the basic metrics such as how many people attended or what their anecdotal feedback was. The reason for this, and I make no qualms about stressing this point again, is because they want to deliver the best experience to their members. If they don’t understand what worked at a conference and what didn’t then it makes it much harder to learn and improve, or show that the conference delivered real ROI. Remember, Associations aren’t exempt from having to justify their expenditure and prove ROI! The key to this understanding is effective reporting. Associations need to be able to create and manage reports on a wide range of conference data, and they need to be able to do this quickly and easily. Saving, sharing and scheduling reports are also a ‘must-have’ as is security and restricted access.

Integrating new technologies with existing systems

Just because an Association is interested in procuring new technology doesn’t mean it isn’t currently already using technology or intends to discard existing technology. A new solution needs to integrate with existing systems such as CRM, Finance and Marketing systems, or mobile apps, and it needs to do this with a minimum of hassle and disruption. APIs, which allow one application to query and manipulate the data within another application, are key to this and must be ‘two-way’ to allow the flow of data in both directions. An effective API makes integrating new technologies with existing systems a relatively simple task, and can never be overlooked when choosing a new technology to make use of.

Improving their abstracts management process 

Continuing the theme of integration, I heard from many Associations that they were keen to not only improve their abstract management process but also integrate this with their conference registration systems. They needed a way of integrating papers and registrations whilst at the same time managing submissions, reviewing and distributing, with the end goal being saving time, reducing errors and improving organisation. This was great to hear for me as I was able to talk to them about Eventsforce Abstracts, which is the ideal tool for these requirements.

Click to get in touchWhich technological challenges do you feel Associations will face in the future and how will these be resolved?

In the future, the question won’t be if Associations are using technology – they will be. The question will have moved on to how they are using it and if it is meeting their expectations. Associations will place greater emphasis on finding the right technology supplier, one that will be there for the long-term, adopting a partnership approach. Usability will also be high on the agenda forcing technology to become easier to use and easier to integrate.

To learn more about associations or any other event-related matter, contact Daniel using the details listed here.

Why Merging Abstracts and Event Registration Makes Sense for Associations

Stack of Documents

Being able to manage abstracts online is no longer enough for savvy association event professionals. They are now demanding end-to-end event planning and management solutions that allow them to effectively manage every aspect of the event lifecycle. Their aim? Delivering cutting-edge events that deliver the ultimate experience for their delegates, boost membership and enhance their brand.

At Eventsforce we developed a solution that meets the specific needs of associations. To ensure we got this right, we asked associations to share their top concerns and the things that really mattered to them.

Keeping registrants happy

Top of the list – a happy registrant is the number one measure of success for associations. Not having to visit multiple sites and being able to get everything done in one place makes life much easier for registrants and is a sure way to avoid confusion. Nobody ever complains that registration and abstract submission is too easy!

Keep all data under one roof

It may seem obvious, but having their data in one place was also high on the agenda and makes sense for a number of reasons: fewer systems means one single log-in, improving efficiencies for the event team; comprehensive reports can be run utilising all of the event data available, rather than just a cross-section; and new users can be easily created with varying levels of access to information.

Give more choice to the delegate

Delegates want to feel empowered and using the same system to manage abstracts and registrations makes it quick and easy to display details of the abstracts that have been submitted for each session. Registrants will find it far more convenient to book onto their preferred sessions every time.

Save time

Taking on a new piece of software is a big decision. Time will need to be set aside for implementation and training of each team member, so the fewer systems you have to get your head around, the better. This is a big plus for associations who are keen to save time and be free to focus on what matters most: delivering top quality events.

Click to get in touchIn short, it’s not enough just to listen to the concerns of associations. At Eventsforce we listened and took action. We developed a product that not only tackles abstract management and event registration in one system, but also offers seamless integration with other systems crucial to the running of association events, such as CRM and Finance systems.  Technology is here to make the life of the event professional easier and more productive, and enable them to add the wow factor to their events, but most crucially, it’s here for the delegates because making them happy is what it’s all about.

To find out more, visit our association page.

How Event Technology Can Open Up Revenue Streams for Universities

Graduates in Cap and Gown

Academic institutions are not immune to the economic pressures faced by business. Recent reforms in the way universities are financed has meant that more money is coming from student tuition fees and less from government grants. Consequently many universities are now looking for alternative revenue streams to bolster their income.

Space hire, offering university premises such as halls and theatres as event venues, is one alternative but increasingly universities are realising that they need to be much more commercially aware and have gone one step further, offering a full PCO (Public  Conference Organiser) service to their clients.

But to operate as a true PCO in an increasingly competitive environment, whilst at the same time growing their own events business, universities need to arm themselves with the same tools that PCOs rely on to do their jobs. Event technologies, such as that offered by Eventsforce, offer end-to-end event planning and management, taking care of every aspect of the event lifecycle, from planning, marketing and registration, to post-event analysis and reporting, across all events.

Click to get in touchPCOs have long since recognised the importance of being able to quickly and simply set up events and manage them 24/7 from any location, and have grown to enjoy a wide range of other benefits such as the integrated management of abstracts, registration and sessions and the ability to create branded event websites from scratch without design experience. Universities are now set to enjoy the same benefits.

Professional Conference Organiser Marianne Dombrower of the University of St Andrews spoke to us about taking the decision to use Eventsforce and its effect on developing a PCO offering at the University.

 When did you start working with Eventsforce and what prompted you to select them?

“I started with the University in May 2012 to take on a new position of the Professional Conference Organiser.  To ensure this role had the tools to succeed an Event Management Software System was vital.  It was important that the software included Abstract submission along with a flexible registration process.

“When I was in the research stage of choosing an event management system I was initially looking for a tool for one particular event. I spoke with existing Eventsforce clients who were all very happy with the system and had rated it superior to others that they had used in the past. I also spent time running demos of the product, which was useful.”

The Solution

“We run predominantly academic and educational events here at St Andrews, for national and international associations. As mentioned previously, we initially purchased Eventsforce for use with one particular event but have since used it for more.

“We mainly leverage the front end web design, abstracts and registration modules of Eventsforce. Every event we host is very different to the last, so the flexibility and open-endedness of the registration module is essential.  The abstract module can use pre-set templates if required and Reviewers can be provided with a Log on, which allows them only to view the Abstract section.

The Results

“After the initial event that we had purchased Eventsforce for, we then decided that we could actually do much more with this. We have since developed a full PCO service for clients that require it and this simply wouldn’t be possible without Eventsforce.

“The support we have received from Eventsforce has been fundamental in the success of our first events.  The team in London are wonderful and do all they can to find the best solution for the particular event being worked on. We get regular updates of upgrades and changes and are kept well informed.”

To view the full case study, click here