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Effectively Engage HCPs at Your Next Event with Interactivity

Organizing medical meetings, like medical congresses and advisory boards, is key to becoming a leader in your therapeutic area. When planning these meetings, it’s not enough to provide informative sessions covering your newest scientific content. Your sessions also need interactivity and engagement to help your target audience of HCPs digest and retain your scientific information.

When your session is supported by thoughtful audience participation, those audience participants come away better informed and educated. Then, they are better able to use that knowledge to treat their patients.

Why Interactivity at Medical Events is Important

When you plan meetings, your goal is to help HCPs build a deeper understanding that they can apply to their practice. But you can’t help HCPs stay up-to-date on the latest in the therapeutic landscape or treatment options if you lose their attention. Interactivity helps capture your audience’s attention, create memorable experiences and position your sessions as useful, informative and exciting to attend.

When we discuss interactivity, we are specifically referring to two-way participation. This means elements that draw your audience into your session, not just interesting visuals and diverse presentation formats. Interactivity adds value to your sessions. That value comes in the form of interest, engagement and participation that builds knowledge retention in your audience.

How Adult Learning Principles Affect Interactivity

To make your audience’s experience useful, informative and exciting, you need to understand how their brains work. The current human attention span is short — only 8.25 seconds. And adult learning principles, like Dale’s Cone of Experience, state that learners retain more information by doing than by hearing, reading or observing. This means for your audience it’s more engaging to attend an interactive session than a lengthy lecture.

And in a study conducted by MedComms Experts, a majority of HCPs ranked interactive formats as a strong preference in terms of meeting content formats. Despite the fact that all HCPs don’t have the same exact learning and content consumption preferences, interactivity is key to capturing the attention of your HCP audience.

Portegies, W. and Nadell, J. (n.d.). Industry Sponsored Education in Neurology. [Online Survey] On File MedComms Experts, New York, NY, United States.

We cannot expect HCPs to remain attentive at events if our events don’t provide interesting, engaging content. That’s where interactivity comes in.

The Pitfalls of No Interactivity

A common mistake is not including any interactivity at all in your session content. It’s a misconception that scientific content can’t be engaging and interesting. While sessions typically cover in-depth, complex information, there’s no reason not to add interactive elements that make the sessions compelling and participatory for your audience.

If you lack interactivity, there is a high risk of adverse side effects such as monotonous presentations, low attention, poor retention and ultimately, your audience not associating your session with highly valuable content. Even if you have the most exciting breakthroughs and promising clinical trial data, the delivery of information is just as important as the information itself.

Is There Such Thing as Too Much Interactivity?

With how much HCPs prefer interactivity, and the pitfalls associated with no interactivity, it seems like the sky’s the limit. But when your interactivity isn’t relevant or thoughtfully incorporated into your sessions, you won’t get the intended results.

Think about it like this: if you are conducting a polling question, but the audience doesn’t understand how the question relates to your session, is the interactive nature of the poll actually cementing information into their minds? Or is it just confusing them? It’s crucial to make sure the speaker is prepared to pertinently comment on all possible outcomes of your poll.

Finding the Right Balance Means Finding the Right Kind of Interactivity

The type of interactivity you choose should depend on your specific topics, audience and messaging. Effective interactive formats include:

  • Polling
  • Q&A sessions
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Workshops
  • Moderator-facilitated discussions

From session to session, audience interactivity will look different. Here are 5 questions to consider when thinking about designing your session for maximum HCP engagement, knowledge sharing and retention.

1. Who Is Your Audience?

To understand how to employ interactivity, first you need to have a strong grasp on who your intended audience is. Are they high-tech? Then having them use smartphones to scan QR codes to access the active parts of the session will be an easy way to include this audience.

Knowing your audience and their digital habits, content consumption preferences and level of interest and familiarity with the topic will guide you to choose the right avenues to create interactivity. Whether you’re passing a mic around the room or leveraging tech tools to make a splash, there is a way to appeal to everyone.

2. What’s the group size?

The next step after knowing who makes up your audience is knowing how many of them are there. Strategies to foster engagement and interactivity will depend heavily on if you have a small session with 20 people, or a large meeting with 200.

In larger settings, it won’t be possible to have every person weigh in, but through creative polling tools, surveys and other one-to-many interactions, you can still create that vital two-way participation that makes sessions valuable and informative.

3. What’s the setting?

With the pandemic, many events took advantage of virtual programming, and it has forever changed the way medical meetings are hosted. Attendance is more accessible virtually, and interactivity opportunities are high for web-hosted programs, but distractions and multitasking can cause virtual audiences to lose attention faster.

Consider the setting when you plan how to make your session interactive. Virtual sessions lend themselves easily to interactive elements, but also require keeping audience eyes, ears and minds engaged in the presentation. Utilizing breakout rooms in a virtual setting is a powerful way to keep individuals engaged.

4. What’s your topic?

Sometimes, parameters like group size, setting and audience members are largely out of your control. The key messages you want to convey within your topic are entirely up to you. You can bolster your session by choosing the type of interactivity that best suits your session objectives.

For instance, peers love learning from each other. If your topic touches on a patient example or a real-world case study, make it participative and invite the crowd to weigh in. If you choose to incorporate a poll, think carefully about what type of polling question it should be (Yes/No, multiple choice, scaling, ranking, etc.) and how the results of the polling question could impact your session objective.

5. What are you doing before and after?

An often overlooked way to tee up interactivity is utilizing the time before and after the session. You can send out pre-session questionnaires to understand what topic is most valuable to your audience, and ensure your session is taking their answers into consideration. You could even ask HCPs to submit a real patient case study in advance that they would like the expert speakers to review during the session. Or you can tease the session topics and send out speaker bios to build interest.

If you do your session right, you’ll not only engage HCPs, but you will also have valuable takeaways as the organizer. You can uncover key insights like topic areas where the audience needs more information in the future. Then, you can build these takeaways into your post-session strategy.

Become a Leader Through Impactful Medical Congress Sessions and Meetings

To be seen as a leader in your therapeutic area, you need to be a leader at medical congresses, advisory boards and other medical meetings. When designing your session, the interactive options that you ultimately select are just the start of your impact on the larger scientific community.

The engagement that stems from the interactivity makes your sessions enjoyable, but more importantly, valuable. As a result, HCPs leave with more knowledge gained and retained, and an overall better event experience that showcases you as a leader in your therapeutic area.