SPARC flame


October 23, 2019

I recently gave a presentation to an audience of event planners at the Connect Medical Tech conference in Dallas, TX.  My topic was “Let the Sunshine In: Compliance Considerations for Continuing Medical Education Conferences.” Here’s my presentation synopsis:

“Continuing Medical Education (CME) conferences typically have compliance requirements that other healthcare conferences may not have. What are these compliance requirements and what impact do they have on the way a CMP plans a CME event versus any other conference? We’ll consider compliance requirements of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) as well as the Open Payments Act (aka Sunshine Act), plus other parameters your client may have. Rather than viewing compliance as a hurdle to be overcome, we’ll look at it as an opportunity to add value to your next CME event.”


Connect Conference

Connect Conference

I’ll release my key points in future blog posts, but here I want to offer some observations about the conference generally and how I saw event planners and their “suppliers” interacting throughout the event, along with some lessons and questions I picked up listening to other presenters.

Connect Associations is an organization that brings consumers and suppliers together in the Events and Meetings industry. In this case, the consumers were event planners, specifically those focused on healthcare and medical meetings. The suppliers were representatives from the hospitality industry, as well as companies that have technologies suited for large conferences and events. The education sessions – such as my presentation above – were offered as added value to the heart of the conference, which was the 1:1 appointments between the event planners and suppliers.

connect reverse trade show

Connect Reverse Trade Show

These 1:1 appointments are like speed dating sessions, although in the language of the event it was called a “reverse trade show”. Rather than the suppliers being set up in a large exhibit hall with event planners strolling through, in this case the event planners were stationed at tables, and “by appointment only” the suppliers ran around meeting with the event planners. The supplier could then pitch their city, venue, or service to the planner, who could also discuss what types of events they had in the future. Each speed date lasted six minutes (there was a clock), with one minute of time in between for the suppliers to zip across the hall to find their next appointment. This would go on rapid-fire for up to two hours at a time.

connect with new people

Connect With New People

I chatted up a few people who stopped by the snack table when they had a six-minute interval without a scheduled appointment. Most had participated in this type of meeting before. A supplier knows they don’t have to connect with every planner in the room, and vice versa, but this format ensures you are meeting with 25-35 qualified contacts. That’s about what you’d come away with in a convention trade show format.

connect timed appointments

Connect Timed Appointments

The room was loud and had good energy. I figure few of the conversations led to actual business partnerships, but I’m sure the networking was valuable all the same.

Throughout the remainder of the conference I heard from and met with various experts and consultants in the areas of marketing, exhibitor engagement, meeting management, AV technologies, artificial intelligence chatbots, and social media. I came away with a few takeaways that pertain to the work my team does.

1) Can the “reverse trade show” concept find meaningful application in the context of continuing medical education events?

2) When we make an exhibit hall splashy and highly sensory, do we make it overwhelming for our attendees who are introverted, or otherwise intimidated by loud and high-energy situations?

3) Can silent disco technology provide cost savings to an academic conference?

4) How best do we connect with the influencers in our specialty to drive attendance to our events?

5) What are the consequences of treating an AI Bot as a “team member” at your event?

I told my audience in my presentation that I was going to leave them with more questions than answers. The same happened for me at the conclusion of my time at the Connect Medical Tech conference, but that’s a good thing.


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