During this year’s Pharma Forum, held at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, David Kerr (Ashfield's Senior Director of Creative & Production Services in the United States) co-hosted an insightful session surrounding online and offline engagement strategies to enhance face-to-face meetings.
Kerr, along with Martin Jensen (Head of Global Congress & Event Management at Lundbeck), balanced real life experiences with strategic concepts. The session focused on survey findings from Ashfield’s Science Of Meetings white paper and provided insights that can be applied to any learning method and meeting type.
Diversify Content & Message Delivery Methods
The presentation focused on why it is imperative in today’s fast-paced culture to diversify the way content is delivered to attendees. Gone are the days of the single standard email invite. Content needs to reach attendees, based on who they are and what their communication preferences are. If one attendee is a digital native, adapt the email invite to include a video from one of your key opinion leaders expressing their enthusiasm for what lies ahead. If the attendee is more traditional in their communication preference, mail a physical postcard invite with critical meeting information. Include a still image from the video with a link to find the video on your meeting portal. This tactic creates live, ongoing content that is ever-accessible. Access to ongoing content is imperative to provide a seamless and unified communication strategy across online and offline channels.
Improve Engagement During Meetings
Kerr also shared best practices for changing the way content is delivered during a meeting to ensure maximum retention and engagement. Instead of suggesting event apps that each attendee needs to download to a mobile device, ensure attendees are armed with the content as soon as they enter the meeting space. Pre-load presentations onto tablets provided, encouraging attendees to follow along live with the speaker’s topics. Kerr suggested incorporating polling and audience feedback applications into presentations to make it easier for attendees to contribute in real-time. Utilising tactics to increase engagement during face-to-face meetings contributes to attendee engagement and overall message retention and the success of your meeting.
Kerr led by example, maximising engagement during his presentation. As the session concluded, a variety of questions were sent through the presentation tablets. Kerr addressed the use of apps facilitating the registration process: “Depending on the app that is chosen it can help facilitate the process, but Ashfield doesn’t typically employ that strategy for our purposes. We would usually recommend a more traditional registration platform and use the data collected throughout that process to help populate the app. Once the app is developed, it can then be utilised to expedite the check-in and on-site experience.”
Another question surfaced around countries that restrict the use of social media and how to engage in those countries and build communities: “There are a number of ways to approach this. When working with event apps, we are able to create private networks of professionals working towards a common goal. Although they can use this as a social tool, it is limited to your audience and not shared in a traditional social media sense. Company intranet sites, such as Yammer and Jabber, accomplish this as well. We have also seen digital newsletters used to great effect, where we encourage participants to cultivate and contribute content that will provide insights into best practices and success stories.”
How do you suggest convincing/proving value to a client to use a more creative stage or room set-up and step away from tried and true ‘stage set in a box’?: “I think it is important to evaluate your approach and requirements at each step, based on meeting objectives. We must continue to challenge preconceptions around traditional technologies and room setups to improve the attendee experience. In some cases, a traditional approach is warranted. More often though we are now finding that through the use of apps and second screen technology, having a traditional screen set would be redundant if not applied in a more creative way.”
When considering how to enhance your meeting environments, what technology to utilise and what tactics to use to personalise your online and offline engagement, get in touch with David Kerr.