Adapting to the Virtual Conference Experience P2
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Raffy Dakessian 0:00
Welcome to the medical affairs professional society medical communications focus area working groups, multi part Podcast Series. In this second podcast, we will continue our discussion on adapting to the virtual conference experience. I am Raffy Dakessian. I’ll be the moderator for this podcast. I currently serve as a member of the medical communications focus area working group, and then the head of oncology, scientific communications, and medical information departments for Novartis, Japan. The views expressed in this recording are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect on the opinions of maps are the companies with which they are affiliated. This presentation is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal or regulatory advice. We encourage you to engage in conversations about online or virtual conference experiences with other maps members via the community portal on the maps website. Simply log in with the email address and password associated with your maps account and click on the discussion tab. Then scroll down to medical and scientific communications to post a question or review previous postings. The objectives of today’s podcast are to understand how the in person conference experiences changed and adapted to the virtual environment. Discuss styles and formats that uniquely suit the online virtual conference experience. And consider factors for enabling networking and interaction in online virtual conferences. So let’s continue. This time, I’d like to welcome back our guest, Andy so Vanya, from the New York technology Alliance. Welcome back, Andy. Hi,
Andy Saldaña 1:45
Of course, of course. So
Raffy Dakessian 1:49
So Andy, we had a really great discussion, last episode, where we talked about online conference planning, and how you approach that in providing these solutions to to industry scientists and technologists, we focused a lot about networking and how to kind of foster networking. This time. I’d like to talk a little bit more about formats on what kinds of formats you think about in the agenda in terms of didactic teaching presentations in terms of more like context and dialogue. We can continue on with networking, and engagement as well. One comment you made last time that I’d like to just start with, you talked about certain kinds of presentations that work in the background that you almost put on like a podcast experience. So you don’t need to be on camera. You don’t need to provide, you know, live input. Can you talk a little bit about these types of talks? And you know, what kind of content is is suited to them, so that you have a little bit more of a background experience while you’re attending an online virtual conference?
Andy Saldaña 3:15
Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of those conversations tend to be more interview style conversations, much like this one, where you’re talking with an expert who has some viewpoints, and is trying to get across information and just a very conversational way. So interview formats work really well for that kind of type of event, or session where the traditional fireside chat that you would normally go to, when you’re at an in person events, those tend to work really well for those for those types that you would then put on in the background. Maybe listen to while you’re working or while you’re you’re attending to other tasks. And I you know, I like to think of them very much, you know, in the in the podcast style, they translate very well to that. So when you’re when you’re planning a conference, if you have a couple of those throughout the day, or think about the breakout sessions in some way that can mirror that it really does help the attendees absorb some of that, that that information and more digestible chunks.
Raffy Dakessian 4:24
Yeah. And do you try to alternate these kinds of like whether it’s an interview or a panel discussion with, you know, more heavier or dense content that requires more of the audience’s attention?
Andy Saldaña 4:40
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that’s really at the core of when you’re designing a virtual experience, right? You have to look at the overall goal of what you’re trying to accomplish. So when you’re looking at translating a conference online, you would take apart that conference, and Put put it into chunks and then decide, you know, how do we deliver that content, the best way possible, so that the most people can take advantage of it. And so I imagine, you know, especially in the medical professional arena, or, you know, I, my specialty is technology conferences, so when we would do more traditional workshops in person, like a, you know, a full day workshop on security trainings, or anything like that, you know, that’s very intense content, that takes a lot of focus time from the attendees, and it takes a lot of attention. And so for those types of to translate that into a virtual setting, it really you, you are going to have to have some buy in from the attendees that are attending virtually so. So those do not make the best, you know, background kind of conversations. And so you do have to think about that, when you’re designing the full conference experience. And if you have a lot of those in the morning, you might want to break up the day by having, you know, a few of those start today. And then and then segment them out so that you do have more of those general conversations, to break up, you know, the full day, the full day’s attention. And so you can so as a conference attendee who’s sitting at your desk, you know, you have the best intentions of putting all of your attention to the conference that you’re attending. But you’re also you know, your computer’s on you’re competing with your, your email. And so asking for that attendees attention for more than an hour is probably asking for too much. And so thinking through that piece,
Andy Saldaña 6:48
designing the conference in that way, helps, I think helps retain engagement throughout the day, as well as allow, allow attendees to really do the things that they have to do when they’re sitting at their desk.
Raffy Dakessian 7:02
You know, that I think that makes sense. I mean, you mentioned how, in live conferences, you know, you might have a full day very intense discussion. I mean, certainly that’s the case. And for medical conferences, where, you know, you may have back to back clinical or preclinical data presentations. Is it even possible to have a full day virtual conference experience? Or is it absolutely not advised. Because it’s just not realistic, given the experience.
Andy Saldaña 7:31
I just, I think that a lot of conference organizers, organizers try that have the best intentions when they’re when they’re when they’re formatting, a structure like that. But I just don’t think it’s very realistic, especially, you know, with everyone being at home, and the distractions of just normal life interfering. And so as much as you prepare yourself, to, you know, sequester yourself into your room, or your office or your home office, and you have every intention of sitting there and paying all of the attention to what’s being presented. I don’t think it’s really going to happen in the current situation, in the way that we think so. I think it’s a if if we, as conference organizers think about that and take into account everything that’s happening. For the people who are attending, we can plan better conferences. And you know, a piece of that is, is understanding that, you know, everybody’s attention for a full day is a lot to ask, and I am sure that there are some people that can do that. But doing that for more than three or four hours at a time is quite a heavy lift.
Raffy Dakessian 8:42
Sure. Yeah. I think, you know, you’re in the same seat, you’re not moving around there. Isn’t that lives emulous. I mean, in many ways, it feels like to me, and I’m curious if you agree that, you know, we’re in our kind of adolescence, for the virtual conference experience, we’re just starting to kind of learn as a society about it. Even before the pandemic, I was reading a statistic from the professional convention Management Association. So they plan a lot of industry events, they were saying that something like three quarters of planners want to start to go virtual. This is a 2020 study that they had. So of course, now the pandemics happened. I would say we fast forwarded many years on that trend. But the capabilities still aren’t there yet. And there’s a lot of exploration and experimentation. Is that something that you’re seeing when you provide solutions to your clients? Yeah, absolutely. I
Andy Saldaña 9:44
think I I’m, again, in the technology space. So I was already seeing a lot of platforms pop up that were very focused on providing that that virtual experience to more people. So taking, creating that hybrid model And moving it forward to to disseminate that that same information that you you’re experiencing in person to a larger audience at a cheaper price point. And so I think that a lot of those tools were already starting to pop up. And the conversation was moving into that, that what is the hybrid model look like? And so I think you’re right, it just got accelerated in 2020, due to the, the, the pandemic. And so, you know, when we’re looking at how that’s moving beyond, you know, once we get into recovery, and start moving back into in person events, I think that these hybrid types of events are going to are here to stay. And it’s going to be really interesting, seeing the tools that pop up, that can help facilitate those connections in a in a in a multi layered kind of way, to many, many different audiences all at the same time. And I think that that’s, you know, we’re already seeing that trend. And we’ll continue to see that trend forward.
Raffy Dakessian 11:04
You know, one of the other types of formats you talked about in our first discussion, was this, like sin you live where you mentioned, having a mix of kind of pre recorded content, you know, followed quickly by a live a live component where that presenter is then, you know, available to answer questions, or provide maybe some follow up? Where do you see that particular kind of format fitting in? And what is the benefit of approaching certain parts of the agenda that way?
Andy Saldaña 11:38
Yeah. So I think that’s it’s really interesting concept, the first time I saw it, I was like, Oh, this is, is intriguing. But it’s really a providing, the reason that I feel strongly about moving conferences into that direction is because it’s a mix of, of things you cannot miss. So if you think of that, about it, like a TV model, and live television, you know, if you schedule keynotes or plenary sessions that are set and streamed live, that’s kind of like the football game, right. And so it’s something that can’t be missed, it’s something that’s going to happen, and you’re building excitement and engagement around that event. But then, if you also supplement the rest of the conference day with these pre recorded short sort sessions that are very, you know, direct and what the content is that they’re trying to deliver, it doesn’t matter when that attendee watches it, it’s not the content isn’t isn’t impacted by, you know, by how it’s been absorbed. That that lends itself to allowing more people to take advantage of these pre recorded sessions. And so it’s, it’s a really fantastic way to to mix that, that I can’t miss the this conference at this time during this day, with, I’m also getting this full library of amazing content at the same time. And so it just increases the value of the overall conference experience, while again, providing that that FOMO piece that a lot of conference organizers are looking for. And a lot of us, you know, also allows that that point, to bring attendees together around that common experience.
Raffy Dakessian 13:27
And it probably makes for some tighter presentations to if you have that opportunity to pre record it, you know, there there’s the opportunity for the presenter to do multiple takes and really get the key points that they want to convey. So they don’t overlook any, any point they wanted to make during the talk.
Andy Saldaña 13:46
Absolutely, and depending on, you know, the resources that are available, and also allows for, for the conference organizers to then review and provide opportunities for edits and revisions. So that those that so that the content that’s being provided is, you know, the absolute absolute best. I was speaking at this one tech conference in October of this last year, and I pre recorded my session, it was a 15 minute conversation. And you know, it took me about an hour and a half to record and get things right. But I have to say it was one of the best talks that I felt that I felt very confident in delivering it was just exactly as he said, it provided me the opportunity to fine tune changed the way that I was presenting, maybe worked through some of the slides that weren’t quite hitting as I watched them back. So it really does provide the opportunity for presenters.
Raffy Dakessian 14:45
Great. Thanks so much for joining us again.
Andy Saldaña 14:48
Absolutely. It’s been such a pleasure.
Raffy Dakessian 14:52
So this concludes the second podcast and a series on adapting to the virtual conference experience. Again, I would like to thank our guests And diesel donya from the New York technology Alliance for joining us on this thought provoking discussion. If you are a maps member, thank you for your support of maps. If you’re not yet a maps member and would like to access additional resources in this area, please visit the maps website to explore joining today at medical affairs.org forward slash membership. This concludes today’s episode. Thank you for listening