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5 Tips on How to Structure an Effective Advisory Board Meeting

An advisory board is a group of expert thought leaders in a particular field. It serves many roles, and its member structure should follow specific guidelines that pertain to your industry and agenda. An advisory board can meet live or virtually to discuss and share feedback. This article will discuss the role of a live advisory board meeting and provide a few helpful tips on how to structure it effectively.

Role of the Advisory Board


In the pharmaceutical industry, advisory boards are used across many functions and disciplines. This can include sales, marketing, market access, and medical. For sales and marketing, the advisory board can discuss appropriate messaging, the patient journey and best ways to engage with patients and healthcare professionals. On the payer or market access side, advisory boards are convened to understand potential coverage issues and regional differences in payers. Advisors may provide guidance on messaging and best approaches to communicating with payers. On the medical side, they are used for clinical development, to better understand knowledge gaps, medical education opportunities, and additional insights on the needs, expectations of healthcare professionals and the treatment team.

Advisory Board Structure

advisory board structure

A successfully structured advisory board is one that convenes true experts in their field, particularly those who are known as KOLs. This will usually involve professionals that are highly published, active in societies, expert presenters, and those engaged in guideline determination or authoring. There may be an interest in global experts or regional experts (i.e. screening methods and rates in rural areas may be different than in urban areas).

Identifying who should be on your advisory board is only half the battle. Here are a few things you should consider when planning your advisory board meeting:

5 Tips for Structuring an Advisory Board

1. Set your objectives and intentions upfront - It's important to understand the mission of your advisory board meeting as you begin. Set high-level goals before talking specifics tied to a particular institution or demographic. Below are a few questions you can use to get started:

  • Is this a national or regional issue? Are there differences? If so, make sure you have the right advisors in the room to answer these questions.
  • Are you interested in feedback from a particular group of HCPs, i.e. specialists or general medicine internists? Have a representative group of each at your meeting.
  • Do you want to understand knowledge gaps in your therapeutic area? Consider surveying your attendees upfront to see what the gaps may be.

As you get started, it's OK to be missing pieces of information. In fact, this is precisely why you're building your advisory board. Share with your KOLs what your goals and knowledge gaps are so they can provide you with useful insights and suggestions.

2. Find passionate KOLs, not just experts - Whether it's commercial or medical, your company is on a journey. You're looking for a group of advisors who want to walk that path with you and offer guidance along the way.

As their sponsor, make sure your group of advisors understands your goals and what their role is in helping you reach each one. Make sure they want to contribute, and not just dominate the conversation. Passion, commitment, and a real interest in adding value are of paramount importance for your group of advisors. Some of the best advisors may not be the most highly-published authors or sought-after speakers, but rather the most invested healthcare professionals who are committed to changing the lives of their patients. Some may need to tap into the proverbial "sixth sense" to know who these advisors are, but their care, passion, and interest usually shines through pretty clearly.

find passionate KOLs

3. Choose the right chair - You might decide to choose one of your advisors or an external consultant as the chair of your advisory board. The chair leads the meeting and the dialogue with the advisors. It's important that the chair has a strong presence and is well-known by the advisors. The chair sets the tone and ensures that dialogue is shared equally throughout the meeting. The chair will ask questions and engage with each advisor to ensure everyone participates and has an opportunity to share their perspective. They should be highly respected, well-mannered, and approachable.

4. Conduct your meeting with high science and high experience - The advisory board meeting reflects the identity and culture of your company. The days of flashy, high-end conferences and venues are over. However, it doesn't mean the experience should be short-changed.

high science high experience

Treat your advisors nicely and with the utmost respect and appreciation from the start. Your relationship with them begins the moment you invite them to join the advisory board and continues through follow-up conversations and additional meetings.

First impressions go a long way and providing a nice and respectable experience is appreciated. Provide ground transportation from the airport and a warm welcome as they arrive at the venue. Plan an opening reception, and consider small details like convenience of location, food, linens, and flowers. Add music to the ambiance, if appropriate. Make it a reception you would like to attend.

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For the advisory board meeting, ensure the setup of the room is conducive to discussion and sharing of ideas. Perfect the lighting and all audio/visual before the meeting to create a clean presentation. Rehearse and review all material for the meeting to ensure all presenters are polished and any mistakes are caught before the session begins. The meeting should involve a variety of activities, including 1:1 sessions, breakouts, and discussion groups. If appropriate, turn a learning activity into a game.

5. Follow-up with advisors and keep them informed of next steps - After the meeting, send each advisor a personal note, and highlight some of the contributions they offered. This can help your advisors know they were heard and valued. Keep them updated on how their feedback is being used, and how you look forward to their input at the next meeting. Ask them what their interests are in helping further.

When you meet with the advisors again, provide an update on actions taken since the last meeting. This should include how you incorporated their previous input into projects that helped you achieve specific goals or milestones. And of course, set the goals and intentions for the next meeting.

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By following these tips, your advisors should feel honored to have been chosen by you, clear on your expectations, appreciated for their expertise and insights, and excited about playing a part in your progress.

If you're needing help with this process, reach out to us today. We can help you build a high-functioning, successful advisory board for your business.