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Plan Your Annual Meeting Schedule: Three Great Tools
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The Annual Meeting is the perfect place for YOs to meet, greet, network, job hunt, expand their scientific knowledge, pick up practice management advice and hone their surgical skills. But managing all of these options can be challenging at best!

To help you plan your meeting schedule, here’s a guide to three great online tools you can use to plan your schedule for Orlando, plus a few tips for choosing courses.

Online Planners
The world is moving online and the Annual Meeting is no exception! This year, there are three different Web-based planners to help you get and stay organized during the meeting.

First is the Mobile Meeting Guide, an app that will be available at www.aao.org/2011 beginning Oct. 5. Here are just a few ways you can use it:

  • YO iconFind courses and special events just for YOs. Filter meeting events by Special Interest and click the YO icon to restrict search results.
  • Map exhibitor booths and course rooms.
  • Look up what’s Happening Now (a list of all of the sessions presently occurring; empty after meeting hours).
  • Meeting Information: Look up shuttle stops at your hotel with shuttle information, view the meeting directory and get quick access to the Academy Online Community and official Twitter account, @aao_ophth for ongoing meeting updates.
  • Program Search: Need to know what courses are covered by the Academy Plus course pass or find a second choice because your first was already at capacity? Search courses by day, time, format, topic, special interest, room and even terms in the course description.
  • Special Events and Tour Program: Look up all Academy and AAOE special events (listed by day and time), as well as all alumni and specialty group events and industry-supported satellite symposia.
  • Technology Pavilion: If you have some time to kill on the Exhibit Floor while you’re waiting to meet a friend, this feature lists all presentations by date and time. You can also look up information about AAO Connect, online posters, videos on demand and WiFi access points.
  • Exhibit Hall: Search for vendors alphabetically, do a text search (e.g., by product or service type), or simply view all Academy services offered in the Exhibit Hall.
  • Supporter Information: Find out what events or services industry-related vendors are offering (e.g., Alcon’s Speaker’s Forum).
  • Orlando Information: Look up local weather and transportation options or research Orlando restaurants and attractions (includes direct links to venue websites).

Also starting Oct. 5, the Academy will offer Meeting E-Services, a Web-based portal through which you can leave and retrieve messages from other attendees (Oct. 5 to 20).

The portal also offers a program search similar to the one on the mobile guide. When you find a program or course you’d like to attend, you have the option to download the handout, if one is available. Tip: Before you leave for Orlando, or during a layover when you’re en route, use the portal to download handouts for all meeting sessions you plan to attend.

During and after the meeting (Oct. 21 to 31), Meeting E-Services will also include an electronic database of all scientific posters and videos on demand from the meeting, as well as all refractive surgery e-posters presented at the refractive Subspecialty Day meeting.

Meeting E-Services will only be available to registered attendees through Oct. 31; badge number and last name are required to sign in.

The final online planning tool is the Virtual Exhibition. Not only does it include the entire floor plan of the exhibit hall, but you can map where exhibitors are located. Search by company name, booth number, brand, product category or even product name. Tip: To plan your exhibit hall visit in advance and maximize the value of your time there, log in and create a My Expo account to keep track of all of the exhibitors you want to visit and map them on your personal floor plan. Talk about easy!

Choosing Courses
What’s not as easy is actually deciding which courses you will attend. After all, the Academy’s Course Plus Pass now gives you access to virtually every course. But everyone else also has that access, since all seating is first-come, first-seated.

Once you’ve created a “first choice” list of courses and events, you go back and identify second and even third choices for the likely-to-be-most-popular courses, so you aren’t at a loss if your first choice is filled up.

A few tips:

  • If a course is a “must-attend” for you, plan to get there early — even 30 minutes before the start of the course — if it looks like it could fill up quickly.
  • Look for backups that are nearby rather than across the convention center so you can get to them quickly.
  • Download handouts in advance, including for second and third choices. There will be WiFi available in the course rooms, but download times may be slow. Handouts are best viewed using an iPad, tablet or laptop. (Find handouts through the Program Search. Links are included in session information, along with the abstract.)
  • Lastly, if you plan to attend the YO Program or Networking with the Experts, don’t forget to buy your tickets! These events are not included in the course pass.

These are just a few tips to help you plan and organize your meeting. For even more great advice, join the discussion in the Annual Meeting group in the Academy Online Community. You’ll find great tips on Orlando hot spots, must-attend courses and other thoughts for navigating the meeting. And for YO-specific advice, consult the YO Highlights brochure (PDF 1.76MB). It has everything from course recommendations to your peers' favorite spots in Orlando.

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About the author: Kimberly Day is a freelance health writer and medical editor and a frequent contributor to YO Info. She is the co-author of Hormone Revolution and contributing editor to Peak Health Advocate.

 
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