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How to Run Scientific and Technical Meetings.

Most active professionals will be involved in conference organization at some point in their career. If this thought makes you nervous because the task is huge and "how-to" documentation is sparse, then this is the book for you! it has got to be the most comprehensive work yet on how to run scientific and technical meetings -- and if there is any subject not covered here -- I can't imagine what it may be.

You really have to see it to believe how comprehensive it is, but I can share with you a few facts to illustrate what I mean: 19 chapters, 887 printed pages, 45 appendices (yes, that's forty-five!), 20-page glossary of meeting planning terms, 53-page index. In the preface, the author even tells you which chapters to read, depending on your specific responsibility (i.e. conference chair, publicity, exhibits, etc.). Each chapter includes key references so you can do even more research on each topic.

The organization of the book is logical. It begins with Defining and Conceptualizing the Technical Meeting and progresses to Evaluation and Follow-up. In between, every aspect of the meeting organization is discussed in painstaking detail. How to set up the organizing committee and define their roles, designing the technical program, financial considerations, site selection, marketing, audiovisual requirements, registration, housing. exhibitions, hospital services, ground transportation, and many other topics are discussed. Several timelines are given; these will be especially useful to those who don't realize how far in advance planning must be done.

The detail presented in each section is enormous. For example, for A/V set-up two formulas are given for how close/far audience should be to a projection screen, depending on the height of the projected image. An entire chapter is devoted to Creative Meeting Room Environments, in which 18 diagrams are presented on possible seating arrangements. Some 30 pages are devoted to registration, in which you are told how to design the registration form and badge, how to set up the registration desk, how to find "volunteers" to work at the registration desk, what equipment you will need, how to handle funds and so forth. Sample forms and instructions for the registrar are in the appendices. In some chapters, such as the one on Budgeting and Finances, all of this detail is very welcome.

Ultimately, the question that needs to be asked is "who is going to read this book? ". Even the most devoted disciples of detail will be daunted by page after page of narrative. A good deal of the information presented is common sense, and could be deleted without affecting the book's usefulness. I estimate the book could be shortened by at least 50% without reducing its value as a reference to help organize effective meetings. On the other hand, if organizing meetings is your livelihood, then this encyclopedic reference is one you cannot afford to be without.

Should you add this to your personal library? Unless you are often involved with meetings, 86.95 may seem a lot to invest, although you do get a lot for your money. The best solution may be to get your local organization's library to buy a copy, so you can borrow it when needed. one word of warning: if you have just been asked to organize your first big meeting, agree to take on the job and only then look at this book. If you look at the book first, you will probably say "no thanks!".
COPYRIGHT 1992 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Clement, R.E.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1992
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