Six Factors to Consider When Designing Advisory Boards

Designing engaging, efficient and effective advisory boards is a complex task. You need to convince key opinion leaders from around the world to take time out of their busy schedules to give advice on medical and business strategies. As these meetings can range from an evening to one or two days, it’s not only the information that’s important but also the overall meeting format to entice people to commit their time. What is captured in advisory boards helps shape future company initiatives, so the feedback must be relevant and translatable into actionable items. When designing these important meetings, here are six factors you should consider:

Know your audience

Selecting a group of advisors takes a great deal of consideration and time. Forming relationships with key opinion leaders is important, as is the relationship these leaders have with one another. Mixing up the size of groups and the advisors within them for different sessions is crucial, as this will help ensure all voices are heard throughout the meeting. If you know you’ll get more out of the advisors with a group discussion, as opposed to scribing on flipcharts, change it up. Focus on a format that will guarantee you get the information you need.

Always have structure and purpose

It’s easy to think putting some of the top minds in a room will always lead to fruitful advice. Sessions should be designed to cater to this, but you must also ensure the company’s objectives are being met and the advice gained is a value add. Session output, whether it’s verbal, written or recorded, should result in company actions. Even a general discussion should have planned questions and a time limit to ensure purposeful outcomes.

Facilitation is as essential as information

The output of an advisory board is an important measure to ensure that the investment made was money well spent. Facilitators must keep discussions in line with the agenda and ensure objectives are met. This is why facilitators should be selected well in advance to ensure they know exactly how the sessions are meant to be run. If the facilitators have relationships with certain advisors, match them appropriately. If the facilitators are new to facilitation, consider speaker training in advance to ensure they know how to encourage all advisors to provide their input and the meeting remains on time.

Be flexible and punctual

As we all know, discussions can run longer than anticipated. A hard stop can be detrimental if advisors are providing essential input for the company. Build time into sessions to allow for this, making sure the overall meeting doesn’t run overtime. If some sessions do run longer than others, be prepared to rework or reorder the agenda to accommodate them. As a best practice, workshop sessions should be allocated no less than 45 minutes; 60 minutes is ideal if you want time for groups to share feedback. If sessions don’t require input from advisors, consider moving these to the end so they may be skipped over if other sessions and discussions run longer than anticipated.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

As advisors become more comfortable with your company and one another, it’s important to not get stuck in a routine. Don’t assume that what works now will work in the future, or that fun activities will take away from the seriousness of the discussions. In fact, you should try out new interactive options such as tablets or simulators to enhance the experience. If you’re on a lower budget, developing board games, using creative slide techniques or adding an interesting meeting theme can help increase engagement and generate input beyond a standard roundtable.

Remember to ask for feedback

You won’t know if the advisory board meeting was well designed or well run unless you ask. Evaluation forms, an open feedback session or post-meeting surveys are good ways to collect information on how you did and what to change for future meetings. If you’ve tried a new session design, ask about it specifically, as opposed to soliciting general feedback. You’ll get detailed insight and know whether it’s worth trying again.

At Six Degrees Medical, we design innovative advisory board meetings to obtain the information necessary to differentiate your products in competitive markets. Whether we’re brainstorming new workshop ideas or thinking out-of-the-box to ensure meeting participation, our project managers, meeting professionals and medical writers become an extension of your team. Need help with your next advisory board?


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