Skip navigation

Tips for Managing Executive Stakeholders

At the recent Pharma Forum conference, senior event planners from various life-science firms shared ideas for how to set expectations before a meeting, and then deliver metrics afterwards.

Ahead of the opening session of the 20th annual Pharma Forum conference in Tampa, about a dozen veteran event leaders from life-sciences companies gathered to share their challenges as well as advice regarding some of the sticker parts of their jobs.

One common issue among the group: setting the proper expectations among executive stakeholders for upcoming events. From their discussion, the group agreed upon a few actions planners could take:

• Determine whether each person in the event’s chain of communication is an actual decision-maker or simply a messenger for a decision-maker. This could alter the approach you take in proposing ideas to them and responding to queries from them.

• Ask stakeholders how they prefer to be communicated with, which will save time for the planning team as it builds the event.

• Set expectations for the event’s experience as early as possible. One planner said this: “You have to let them know right away that on this budget, you definitely won’t be able to have this meeting in the bustling downtown of a big city.” Also, explain in detail the significant price hikes at hotels for labor, event space, food and beverage, audiovisual and production, and other elements. Use this article as a primer.

Proving Each Event’s Value
Another issue these planners face is delivering event metrics in a way that satisfies stakeholders. Here are a few of their tips:

• Executives at many firms want quarterly data accompanied by conclusions for investigator meetings, advisory boards, and congress activity. Given the time required to do all that, planners might want to ask for some internal support, from technology or coworkers, to complete those tasks. “Technology can help us, but we need to ask the right questions of management and of the tech-product team to produce the desired results,” said one planner.

• If a planner’s team gets new leadership or changes divisions—after all, reorganizations happen—ask the new bosses which types of data they want for each type of meeting. When leadership changes, priorities often change. For instance, one planner noted that “we need to know how many events of each type they want us to create for next year, and why.” 

There was one more issue that the planners said they’re having difficulty with: When they recommend that a junior member of their planning team get professional education through an association, the human resources department responds with, “That’s not necessary—we already have training programs within the company.” However, “it’s just not specific enough to the meetings function,” said one planner. Given this, planners should point out that the specifics of medical-event planning go far beyond what internal training provides, from contracting to master service agreements to meal caps to transfer-of-value reporting, and more.

• For more on stakeholder management, read this article.

• For information on Pharma Forum 2025, click here.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.