200120172020

Cracking the virtual congress code

12 April 2021

Copywriter Natalie Boyd has spent the last year helping life science companies transform their congress strategies and pivot in a virtual world. Here, she reveals 5 key learnings for developing a standout experience that captivates healthcare professionals.

Since March 2020, almost everyone has had some type of major event postponed, and professional meetings and events look very different today than they did 18-months ago. For instance, while the scale of disruption forced every industry and organization to quickly pivot and chart a new path forward for our healthcare clients, this meant rethinking how they could shift an inherently personal industry to the most impersonal of places – online.

At first, this shift to virtual was less than graceful, maybe even a little frantic, but it also sparked a necessary change. For years, the healthcare industry has grappled with how to compliantly embrace evolving technology and use it to communicate with healthcare professionals and patients effectively. For congresses in 2020, COVID-19 forced the issue.

After coming to terms with the fact that traditional congress would not return in the near future, there was not only the immediate need to prepare for fast-approaching summer shows but also the more farsighted need to lay the groundwork for future congresses by rewriting the engagement playbook and adapting to a virtual model.

As we prepared for one of our client’s biggest conferences of the year, we looked for ways to preserve the best of in-person experiences on purely virtual platforms. Rather than simply fleshing out the restrictive virtual booth template offered on the academy’s congress site, we created an additional virtual experience fully-customized to meet our client’s needs. The stand-alone destination for healthcare professionals allowed them to engage, interact, and connect with our client and their products on our terms.

Here are 5 important considerations to keep in mind when developing digital events, as we look to the future.

 

  1. Bring the “human” to the “virtual”

Humans crave connection but without the option to connect face-to-face keeping congress attendees engaged at the same level in a virtual setting requires a shift in strategy.

In addition to learning the latest industry news and technology, most attendees come to conferences to network. While we may not be able to perfectly replicate the energy of a crowded exhibit hall or the excitement of sitting in the audience listening to a notable expert, virtual experiences can provide interactive and user-led opportunities that draw (and keep) participant engagement.

Whether delivering various chat room opportunities or virtual lounges where attendees can interact with each other between sessions, it’s incumbent on organizations to enhance a virtual event by considering how attendees can find the sense of community they crave in the virtual landscape.

 

  1. Elevate interactivities

In the virtual world, today’s focus has shifted wholly to delivering compelling digital content. And, while cracking the code for virtual attendee engagement is still in the works, there are a few things organizations can do to ensure they deliver more than a passive experience on the other side of the screen.

A wide variety of digital tools are available for grabbing a viewers’ attention and quickly enlivening your conference experience:

  • Videos, such as live-streamed lectures or recorded keynote speaker performances
  • Polls and surveys
  • Gamification
  • Embedded social media feeds and platform links
  • Live updates and news through email or an event app.

With a plethora of interactive and convenient tools at your disposal, going remote actually has quite a few exciting perks. As virtual experiences continue to evolve, it’s imperative we continue to integrate innovative interactivities.

Fill out the form below to read the full article in Delta Magazine – the digital health revolution.

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