Notes on Conference Organisation

Organisation of Annual Conference

Notes for the President and Organising Committee

International conferences take considerable planning, effort and time. The European Prosthodontic Association is grateful to the President and their organising committees for this work and it is the aim of the Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Web-Editor to assist as much as possible. This document is provided as a guide for conference organisation, but is not meant to be prescriptive or restrictive.

In order to allow ample time for planning, Council will accept nominations for future Presidents and conference venues up to four years in advance. The nomination of the President elect usually precedes the selection of conference venue although the two are closely linked. It is expected that the President will have the support of the National Prosthodontic Association or similar organisation. Following the acceptance of the nomination by Council, provisional arrangements and bookings may be made, but it is suggested that confirmation of these bookings is only made after election of the future President as Second President Elect at the Annual Business Meeting three years preceding the date of the proposed conference.

The Honorary Secretary will provide advice to the organising committee at any stage and it is usual for him/her to visit the President elect and the conference venues to confirm the suitability of the arrangements eighteen months prior to the conference (usually the Spring of the preceding year).

The President may nominate an Organising Committee to assist. The President may wish to appoint a Conference Secretary and/or Treasurer. The organisation of the conference will involve arrangement of programme themes; consideration of guest or keynote speakers and general balance of papers offered as between those of practical/clinical interest and those of scientific or research interest; provision of projection and other facilities; appointment of Chairpersons for sessions (guidance for Chairpersons is available as a link in the left hand column on this web-page); invitations to the dental trade to provide exhibits at the Conference; arrangements for the Conference Dinner (menu, wines, toasts and after-dinner speakers as necessary); any additional social programme.

The official language of the conference is English. It is not acceptable to have scientific sessions in any other language - not even that of the host country. For this reason it may be necessary to arrange simultaneous translation, especially for the keynote presentations and at least in the main lecture theatre. It is not acceptable to have non-simultaneous translation.

Planning the Conference

A Conference centre and residential accommodations are both required. A University-type campus has many advantages for this purpose since it combines a suitable academic environment with cheap residential charges. A Conference hotel may provide complete and compact lecture theatres, exhibition areas and accommodation, but special rates must be negotiated to keep costs reasonable. To suit a range of delegates' alternative accommodation of different standards and costs is desirable. It is advisable to seek to insure against strikes, cancellation or other catastrophe as deposits etc. are often non-returnable and the EPA does not have the funds to underwrite any conference failures. If an interest free loan is required to help start-up the organising and advertising, the Honorary Treasurer may, if funds allow, be able to provide such assistance up to a limit of €1000 with a guarantee that this loan will be repaid as soon as possible.

The Conference centre should ideally have residential accommodation, dining facilities and lecture theatres on one site. If this is not so, suitable transport for delegates will have to be arranged. A room will be necessary for Council and Trustee meetings. A Conference office may be necessary, a Conference notice board and the arrangements for registration of members should be considered. There also needs to be available a suitable hall to accommodate any trade exhibition and the poster presentations. Trade exhibitions are encouraged because the income from sponsorship helps to reduce the conference fee. Other sponsorship, e.g. government, tourism, university, hospital, industry, as well as the dental trade should be sought.

As well as the scientific programme, a social programme and accompanying persons programme should be organised. This will usually include an informal welcome party on the evening before the conference opens, an official reception on the first evening of the conference, and the conference dinner on the second evening. An informal event may also be arranged for the last evening after the conference has closed. Post-conference tours may be suggested but ideally organisation of these should be left to individuals through a recommended travel company.

Time must be allowed for the Trustees and Council meetings, usually the afternoon of the day before the opening of the conference. These details must be sent to the Honorary Secretary early to allow communication of time and venue to the Trustees and Council Members as they may have to book earlier flights for travel. The Annual Business Meeting must be included in the conference programme at a convenient time and location to allow all members to attend. There should not be any parallel scientific sessions or other distractions whilst the ABM is being held.

The President Elect should liaise with the Honorary Secretary over the preliminary notification of the intended Conference at the pre-conference visit to the conference venue. The President Elect will then make a presentation of the details of their conference to Council and then at the Annual Business Meeting at the preceding conference (one year in advance). The new conference web site can then go live immediately after the close of the present conference.

It is recommended that a leaflet advertising the conference is also sent by the President to all the EPA membership by post. This leaflet should give preliminary notification of the conference web site, main theme of the scientific programme, the keynote speakers, the dates, venue and arrangements for accommodation, social programme, and accompanying persons programme. An invitation for free communications and poster demonstrations can also be made at this time and contact addresses given to interested persons to seek further details.

Conference web site

Ideally, all registrations for delegates should be facilitated via the conference web site.
The conference web site should contain:

Home page including: welcome, conference announcement, conference details, conference themes, links to other pages and photograph of President along with the EPA logo;
Venue for conference, ease of access, discounted travel arrangements (if any);
Guest speakers, including the Oxford Lecturer;
Delegate on-line registration form, Accommodation on-line registration form;
Instructions for submission of an abstract plus on-line abstract form (IADR style)
EPA Oral Presentation Prize sponsored by Dentsply and regulations, EPA Poster Award sponsored by Quintessence and regulations, Rowland Fereday Research Fellowship and Sydney Barratt Travel Grant;
EPA Membership Application form;
Tourist information, maps etc.

However, it is advisable to include a downloadable postal registration form for those delegates who may not be able to register on-line. Every effort should be made to advertise the conference widely, for example in national and international journals. The President Elect may also want to mail conference details and registration forms to the membership and other potential delegates.

Scientific Programme

It is suggested that the scientific programme should extend over a maximum of three days, preferable two and a half days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning, although other days may be considered. The Conference normally takes place in early September although some variation is possible to allow for local conditions.

The following format for the scientific programme is recommended:

  1. An invited key-note speaker with an international reputation may start each session (plenary session) speaking on a subject of interest to EPA members, Prosthodontists and general dental practitioners. This will increase attendance at the Conference. These lectures will normally be of 45 minutes duration. The first Keynote speaker of the conference is denominated the "Oxford Lecturer" and gives the main keynote lecture of the conference which may be up to one hour in duration. The responsibility for the choice of a suitable Oxford Lecturer each year lies with the President who is organising the relevant conference. However, this choice should be presented to the Board of Trustees, together with a short curriculum vitae of the proposed lecturer, at their meeting two years prior to the conference for information and approval.

    Question time should be allowed even after key-note presentation, but not after the Oxford lecture.
  2. The duration of each free communication is 10 minutes maximum, followed by 5 minutes discussion. Punctual time keeping is essential.
  3. The duration of each free communication session should be one and a half hours maximum (6 free communications).
  4. Two parallel free communication sessions are acceptable, but only in exceptional circumstances may more than two sessions be programmed.
  5. Poster presentations may be on display throughout the Conference but presenters should be on station at a defined time each day (or on one day). In addition a session may be organised at which each presenter is allowed 2 minutes to explain the poster, followed by a short discussion. If there is an excess of oral presentations offered, some members may agree to present their material as poster presentations. The poster presentations by members may be combined with the trade exhibition.
  6. When the final list of speakers is agreed, the President should send a copy of the Programme and the names and addresses of all the speakers to the Honorary Web -Editor. The Hon. Web-Editor should also be notified of any alterations. The Hon. Web-Editor will later require from the President, a photograph, the name and correct title of any official speakers at the opening of the conference, and copies of the abstracts of the conference presentations (preferably on disc), so that these can be published in the Proceedings of the Conference.
  7. On registration a folder should be given to every delegate attending, containing the final programme, abstracts of papers and a list of delegates attending the conference. A name badge should be issued with the title, name of country and institution of the delegate. Name badges should also be provided for accompanying persons. Local signposting on the roads may be necessary to assist delegates.

Conference Finances

Conference finance planning is the responsibility of the President and the local organising committee. If the conference is being held in conjunction with a National Prosthodontic (or Dental) Association then they must also assume responsibility for conference finances, The Secretariat of the EPA should be kept informed. The following recommendations are made:-

  1. Conference (registration) fee should be kept as low as possible (consult with Secretary). It should include mid-morning and afternoon refreshments and other minor items, but not major items which would raise the fee to an unacceptable level.
  2. Conference dinner (gala dinner, banquet) is the main social event. Keep cost as low as possible.
  3. The budget for the Conference will need to take into consideration:-

    i) Residential charges and meals.
    ii) Any extra charges for mid-morning and afternoon refreshments.
    iii) Conference dinner, including wines and flowers.
    iv) Any guest charges undertaken by the Conference.
    vi) Cost of stationary, postage and printing.
    vii) Any extra costs for the use of the lecture theatre, other rooms, projectionist and projection equipment.
    viii) Signposting.
    ix) Travelling expenses incurred in the Conference organisation.
    x) Gratuities.
    xi) Any entertainment expenses.

    It is expected that the winner of the Rowland Fereday Research Award will be allowed free delegate registration to the conference and any opening ceremonies (but not to free accommodation or the gala dinner).
  4. EPA donation from Conference Fees

    It has been agreed by Council that a donation towards EPA funds should be made from the proceeds of each conference. The delegate registration fee, computed by the Conference Organising Committee, should be increased by 5% for all delegates. As soon as possible after the end of the conference, once the conference finances have been settled, a minimum of 10 €uros per EPA member attending conference should be paid to the European Prosthodontic Trust. The Conference Organising Committee should be given adequate notice by the Honorary Secretary (preferably in writing) about this agreement.

    In addition, if considerable profits are generated by the EPA Conference the EPA would welcome a larger donation.

    The EPA is not responsible for any loss incurred as a result of the EPA Annual Conference. It is the duty of the local organising committee to guarantee that a loss does not occur.

    If transfer of moneys from host country to European Prosthodontic Trust is impossible, alternative financial arrangements must be made; for example, printing, postage etc. (discuss with Honorary Secretary).
  5. Non-members Registration Fee.

    This fee is payable by professional non-members attending the Scientific Programme.

    Accompanying persons, attending only for social reasons may pay a small fee (discuss with Honorary Secretary).
  6. 6) At the conclusion of the Conference when all the final transactions have been completed the Conference Treasurer should prepare a "Statement of EPA Income and Expenditure" and this account should be audited. One copy should be sent to the Honorary Secretary for inclusion in the Conference records and a second copy sent to the Honorary Treasurer together with a banker's draft equal to 10 €uros per EPA member delegate, plus an agreed proportion of overall profits if relevant.

    The organising Committee should give the Honorary Secretary a list of attending EPA members.

At the Conference

  1. Before -

    i) Where necessary place signs in appropriate places, "Registration", "Bar", "Lecture theatre", etc.
    ii) Check there are no-last minute cancellations or modifications to the Programme.
    iii) Set up any instructions on the notice board.
    iv) Inspect lecture theatre, lighting, dimming, chalk and blackboard, pointers, projection control (projectionist should be on duty during whole of conference to ensure that any breakdowns are dealt with promptly), microphone, blackout arrangements, ventilation, seating, cloakrooms, toilets, telephones, emergency exits, area for tea/coffee etc.
    iv) Arrange suitable room for Trustee and Council meetings (maximum 20 persons, electric power, refreshments).
  2. First Day - Check the projectionist has arrived, microphone is live and all projection equipment is in working order. Make sure there is clean water and a glass on the rostrum. At the official opening it is normal for a local person of standing welcomes the EPA to the university or conference city/venue. The President welcomes the delegates to his/her conference and the Honorary Secretary may also speak on behalf of the EPA members.
  3. Business Meeting - Requires chairs at rostrum, copies of agenda, accounts etc.
  4. Final Day - End of Conference:- Announce how taxis may be booked and emphasise that room keys must be returned. Honorary Secretary usually speaks at closing ceremony to thank President and his organising committee for all their hard work. Also thanks projectionist, translators, registration and other helpers for their services.
  5. Abstracts - The scientific abstracts from the conference must be given to the Honorary Secretary either on computer disk or in the form of a computer file for publication on the EPA website. An extra hard copy of the conference abstract booklet should also be given to the Honorary Secretary for the archive.

Summary

  1. Venue: Preferably educational institute e.g. College, University etc. (perhaps if conference hotel, negotiate special rates) Insure against strikes, cancellations etc.
  2. Local organisation: Secretarial assistance, printing, postage.
  3. Advertising: Locally, nationally, and internationally.
  4. Information for visitors: Tourist literature.
  5. Accommodation: Range of prices, special rates.
  6. Meals: At Conference centre. Members must be informed of cost and availability of drinks, snacks and meals.
  7. Projection facilities: Projectors, projectionists and engineers.
  8. Conference rooms: Space, size etc.
  9. Registration fee: Add 5% which will be transferred to European Prosthodontic Trust.
  10. Funding: Government, Tourism, University, Hospital, Industry, Dental Trade
  11. Conference themes
  12. Scientific programme: Official opening: speeches. Duration of free communications. Intervals.
  13. Invited speakers: International reputation. maximum duration 45 minutes (except 'Oxford' lecture).
  14. Conference literature: Final programme, abstracts etc.
  15. Chairpersons: One English speaking, one host country speaking. Guidance for chairpersons is available from the secretary.
  16. Trade demonstration
  17. Poster displays
  18. Simultaneous translation
  19. Social programme:
    (a) Accompanying persons, Guests.
    (b) Conference Dinner/Banquet.
    (c) Reception/cocktails.
    (d) National entertainment.
  20. Annual business meeting: Preferably a.m. on the second day.
  21. Council meeting; Trustees meeting: Usually on afternoon preceding opening of conference.
  22. Post-conference tours.

Richard D Welfare
Honorary Secretary
03rd October 1999