Strategic Improvements for SOT’s Annual Meeting


By Denise Robinson Gravatt posted 02-22-2013 16:13


One of SOT Council’s major initiatives this past year has been a critical evaluation of the Annual Meeting to identify strategic and tactical opportunities to enhance its value and impact for the Society, its membership, and the annual meeting participants.The Annual Meeting is the Society’s foremost event, providing an essential focal point for member engagement. It supports SOT’s mission and strategic objectives by bringing together the diversity of our membership and other stakeholders for scientific exchange, education, career development, and mentorship, showcasing toxicology on a global scale. 

Adopting a philosophy of continuous improvement and being responsive to current and past member feedback, Council spent a portion of each of its meetings this past year evaluating multiple aspects of the Annual Meeting. Areas examined included trends and demographics related to meeting attendance, opportunities to increase engagement and networking, the quality and breadth of the scientific program, and potential enhancements to the poster sessions, Continuing Education, and the overall meeting structure. 

Council moved quickly to exploit advances in technology platforms and commission a Mobile Event App and Mobile Event website to replace the previous Itinerary Planner and offer multiplatform mobile solutions for the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. You have seen the launch of these tools in the last couple of weeks, and Council is eager to hear your feedback on how these have influenced your ability to access meeting content, plan your time at the meeting and engage with organizers, exhibitors, and other participants. Training is available for the Mobile App via webinars scheduled for February 28 and March 5. If you cannot attend one of the webinars, recorded versions will be available. On-site support will be readily available in San Antonio at the @SOT Center (an upgrade to the traditional Email Center), which will be located outside of ToxExpo.

Council also considered how to extend the impact of the Annual Meeting beyond the meeting, for both attendees and nonattendees. The Program and the Toxicologist are now available in searchable format, accessible from both the Mobile App as well as the SOT website. The Mobile App also includes a QR code reader, which in conjunction with the increased use of QR codes on posters should provide greater access to content. A more extensive Web-based library of annual meeting materials and resources is being created. A byproduct of this enhanced electronic access will be to encourage reduced reliance on printed materials and less paper usage and waste associated with our meeting. The decision was made to mail the printed Program upon request rather than assume that everyone wants a print program, which already has resulted in a reduced production of programs and nearly 76% fewer programs mailed than 2012!

To improve and simplify the session solicitation and prioritization process, it was decided to eliminate session endorsements in favor of a strengthened sponsorship process, supported by a web-based review form for sponsoring bodies. Individual session proposals may solicit multiple sponsorships. Beginning with the 2014 Annual Meeting, themes will be defined based on actual program content rather than prospectively.

While there was an emphasis on near-term opportunities that could be implemented in time for the San Antonio meeting, Council also deliberated on strategic improvements that will require more extensive member input and a longer time frame for decision making and implementation. Several recent surveys  solicit your feedback on alternative formats for the Annual Meeting as well as ways in which to increase access and engagement in the science presented during the poster sessions. 

You can respond to the surveys until March 20.

Please provide your input so Council can consider your preferences in our continued efforts to enhance the meeting experience and impact!