JULY 2001
E-Conference Feedback - Your Questions Answered
In the last newsletter we read about the February ACDM 'E-Conference'. Sarah Clark gave us an informative overview of the conference; the presentations, the new committee members and last but not least the infamous gala dinner. Each delegate at the conference was given the opportunity to feedback to the conference sub-committee their thoughts on the event and to suggest any improvements for the future. In this article I will aim to summarise the feedback we received and to address the individual concerns raised.
The feedback questionnaire was split into seven sections:
1 The Programme - overall quality, balance of topics, interest and relevance.
2 Presentations - slides, abstracts, acetates, effectiveness of questions.
3 Administration - catering, facilities, registration.
4 Value to delegate - was the conference of interest and value?
5 How did the delegate find out about the conference - ACDM newsletter, ACDM flyer colleague, other?
6 Suggestions for future topics
7 Any other comments.
A grand total of thirty four questionnaires were completed which based on a total number of delegates of roughly 200 gives a return rate of 17%. I would imagine Tony Blair is hoping for a higher turnout come June 7th.
Based on the data contained within these questionnaires, the following graph (see below) gives a visual breakdown of the results from each question.
Conference Questionnaire Feedback
As you can see from the graph, the majority of the scores are in the high 3s or over 4 (the scoring was out of 5; with 5 being the top mark). Unfortunately, the graph is unable to convey the comments we received on the questionnaires.
Therefore I will now group together each section of the graph to reflect their groupings on the questionnaire incorporating any comments along with an attempt to answer issues raised by delegates.
1. 'Overall quality...', 'Balance of topics...', 'Interest and relevance...'
These questions were answered very positively with comments ranging from "Good conference overall" to "Very well run; kept to time". Comments such as these are reflected in the high overall marks for this section. There were several comments requesting more breakout groups and to perhaps finish earlier on the last day.
The former comment has been suggested at previous conferences and although the sub-committee do understand how popular these groups are, the time it takes to organise and run each session has to be balanced against the rest of the conference schedule. At future conferences we will be looking at this option and will make decisions based on these factors.
The issue regarding finishing earlier has been looked at from several angles. We have looked at extending the conference to a third day, starting at Monday lunchtime and finishing on Wednesday lunchtime. This brings with it several logistical problems; many people would not be able to make the Monday lunchtime start time hence they would need to pay for an extra night's accommodation. This pushes up the overall cost of the conference. Also, going on past experience, the last two sessions can be quite poorly attended and we would not want this to happen if we finished on Wednesday lunchtime. Obviously all of the above options are considered each time a venue and agenda are decided upon. Finally, the finishing time issue was exacerbated this year due to the bad weather forecast on the final day. For the 2002 conference we are looking at a more geographically central venue to reduce the travelling time for the majority of the delegates.
2. 'Quality of presentations etc & effectiveness of questions'
Although this session did score well, the overall mark was not as high as the previous grouping. This was due to a number of comments requesting that the slides be printed in booklet form. There are several pros and cons to producing hard copies of speakers' slides; it does allow for briefer note-taking during a presentation and we are aware that some delegates do have to produce presentations of their own on the conference to feedback to colleagues unable to attend.
However, it can be argued that a delegate's focus should be on the presentation itself as opposed to concentrating on hard copies of the slides. This debate will run and run so please rest assured that the committee does weigh up all the options when making decisions. We would be more than happy to hear from anybody with particularly strong views on the above subject, or any viewpoints expressed in this article.
3. 'Catering', 'Facilities', 'Registration'
"The Salsa evening was a success!!" This section resulted in the most wide-ranging comments; from the comment already quoted through the standard of the overflow hotel right through to the food served at lunch.
Issues regarding the food have been taken on board by the committee. It is worth noting however that the Imperial had to resort to buffet lunches being served outside of the usual restaurants due to delayed refurbishments
The DeVere hotel was used as an overflow and although having to bus delegates to the Imperial on a daily basis is not ideal, the moral of the story is to 'book early to avoid disappointment'!
Admittedly, Blackpool in February is not going to be basking in sunshine but we were unable to predict the snow! As mentioned earlier, a more central location is being considered for the 2002 conference.
Overall though, this section scored better than average and this is in no small part down to Beverley Moore of the ACDM Administration Office. Our thanks go out to Beverley and her colleagues for all their efforts.
The questionnaire then allowed delegates to make general comments about the conference. We have gleaned some useful suggestions for future presentations; thank you to those of you who were willing to share your ideas. Again, the Salsa evening and especially Ricky Martin resulted in some complimentary remarks, some of which should not be repeated!
Last and by no means least was the question 'Was the meeting of interest and value to you'? It's pleasing to note that this question topped the table with the highest mark of 4.40. It makes all our efforts worthwhile to know that at the end of the day you enjoyed the conference and will hopefully attend in the future.
As a final note, I know I will not have addressed all the issues raised in the questionnaires but hope I have confirmed that the Conference Sub-Committee do listen closely to any questions/suggestions we hear and the feedback we have received from the conference will be used to improve future conferences.
While we hope that you'll become an active participant and join in our discussions, you're welcome, of course, to simply hang out silently until you feel more comfortable posting a message. When perusing message boards, it's okay to do so silently.
If you would like to respond to any of the issues covered in this article or give any further feedback on the conference I can be contacted at: richard_g_emes@sbphrd.com.
Richard Emes
Team Leader, GlaxoSmithKline
(ACDM Conference Sub-Committee)