Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio March
BY Bob Walters
PUTTING PROCEEDINGS ON DISK
By going electronic, groups can save significant dollars on
With increasing pressure to reduce costs and
yet provide more services and value to attendees, many
organizations are putting their conference proceedings on CD. The
savings are easy to see, as CDs are less expensive to produce and
ship than printed materials. They also can be provided to those who
couldn’t make the trip, thus delivering educational value and
promoting future events.
Before making the move, there are a host of factors to consider
not the least of which is the receptivity of your attendees. The
technology might not be readily embraced unless you properly
prepare the materials and your audience.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
If you are considering publishing on CD, several initial steps need
to be taken.Survey attendees. This will give you a sense of how
many will accept the CD and how many still prefer the printouts.
The survey also lays the groundwork, preparing them for the
Set standards. Choose a format for the
presentations the most popular is Adobe .pdf files, which attendees
open using Acrobat Reader. You will have to purchase the creation
program from Adobe (www.adobe.com) in order to have proper licensing.
Format presenters’ files. Give speakers advance
notice on the file formats you can accept, so they can use the
proper tools in creating their presentations. Adobe .pdf is
compatible with most file formats, so this won’t be too limiting.
But you should establish some standards for example, a limit on the
number of pages, guidelines on types of graphics and possibly even
recommendations on fonts, font sizes and colors.
Get permission. To reproduce presentations, you
will need to modify the authorization agreement with your
presenters, including a statement that gives you the right to
duplicate and distribute their materials electronically. If you are
putting the files on your Web site, you need to specify that and
get approval. Some presenters might permit you to reproduce on CD
but not online, so be sure to address this specifically.
Make it searchable. To make the CD searchable
by key words or topics, select an indexing tool and make sure you
have distribution rights for the search engine the attendees will
need to use. Searching .pdf files is limited to the document that
is open at the time. Other tools, such as one from Libronix (www.libronix.com),
indexes every word on the CD and conducts searches across all
documents (see Tech Files, December 2002). There is a cost involved
in indexing this way, in addition to the license fee for the
technology. Either someone on staff must be trained to use the
tools, or you’ll have to contract out for the services.
FOR THE DINOSAURS
Not everyone will prefer a CD, and some will insist on a printed
version. Here are a few ways to handle the need for printouts.
Charge for printing. Indicate on the
registration form that the proceedings will be provided on CD for
free. Then note where printed copies can be obtained, and list a
price that covers the cost. Offer printouts early. Make the
materials for each session available as a downloadable .pdf file
from a secure section of your Web site that only registered
attendees can access.
Offer access on-site. In your cyber café, set
up PCs with printers, and charge a nominal fee for attendees to
print materials. Expect lines once the word gets out and probably
lots of complaints unless you have enough PCs to handle the
Give them paper. Regardless of how popular the
CD is, be sure to provide notepads so attendees can jot down key
points during sessions.Bob
Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the
founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak
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