From 2005–2015, there were over 30,000 medical meetings in the United States, according to a report from the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association. With a vast range of topics, experts and events, it is easy to see why medical meetings are an integral component to the health care and research industries.

The emergence of this pandemic, however, begs the question: If medical meetings become completely virtual, are we prepared for what will change?

The answer is not so simple.

Take MD&M Minneapolis for example. Known as one of the Midwest’s largest MedTech events, this conference allows industry leaders to broaden their knowledge on state-of-the-art technology by learning about promising trends in the medical device industry. Boasting large crowds and interesting topics every year, this conference thrives upon in-person education.

At the same time, virtual interaction was a way of life even before the pandemic whether we realize it or not. With meetings and care remaining online for the foreseeable future, businesses and health care professionals will have to become more creative about planning events, scheduling topics and creating valuable segments that entice people to attend virtually. Here are a few considerations as we all navigate the coming months or years of medical meetings:

  • Keep attendees engaged

Find a way to make your meetings interactive – add polls or live Q&A sessions to keep people engaged so they’re not just passively watching a PowerPoint presentation for a couple hours. Zoom has polling capabilities so you can get to know your audience better and get their take on the topic at hand or ask questions about who they are, etc. It helps presenters to better “read the room” and lead the rest of the meeting with more purpose and intent. Most platforms also have Q&A sections to field questions live, allowing attendees to ask questions as they have them, rather than saving them for the end – when they’ve likely experienced information overload and forgot.

  • Getting the hard-to-reach places (and stakeholders)

One benefit of virtual conferences is that digital solutions can bring education to those who once didn’t benefit from it. Physicians or other health care leaders that couldn’t commit to travel, will now have the opportunity to attend and engage with your products, findings and services. That could translate into more exposure, more leads and ultimately more business for brands.

  • Sales materials 2.0

Make no mistake – the materials, signage, videos and other collateral that support booth-based marketing at conferences and meetings are essential. But they probably aren’t all translating to a digital-only format. For example, that 3 minute demo video will have less traction than a solid 30-second one. Dynamic, interactive and bite-size content will carry the day online. Likewise, repurposing content across owned and shared channels will prove valuable amidst online education.

Ultimately it is impossible to predict the future of medical meetings. Navigating medical meetings during this pandemic and beyond have the potential to be just as effective as before, but time and advanced thinking will prove as vital to the success of virtual events.

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