Top tips on running virtual healthcare conferences

Aqua Asif, Ellen Nelson-Rowe, Tze Khiang Tan, Maiar Elhariry, Amanda Godoi, Ed Whittaker, Chloe Chia, Wentin Chen, Daisy Campen, Phil McElnay

Conference speaker

This is the second of three articles we have put together to outline how to run a great virtual healthcare event. As an IVMC team, we’ve worked hard over the past few months to organise virtual events. In our first article we wrote about the top 7 tools to use to run a great event. In this article we share our top tips to help your virtual medical conference run smoothly.

Planning

  • Preparation is everything - start early in having regular team meetings to collate ideas collaboratively for the event, allow for time to secure speakers and advertise the event early to engage delegates.

  • Communicate clearly with delegates in advance so that they understand the format of the event and how to navigate the software.

  • Ensure your team has a rehearsal if using the system for the first time so that they know their camera and microphones work.

  • Think about how best to structure your event - will it be more effective as a one-day event or over a few days like a summer school?

  • If possible, have a variety of speakers and workshops and think carefully about the timings of the slots. If you’ve joined IVMC you'll notice we have 4 speakers in the space of 1 hour rather than 1 person for 1 hour to keep attention and engagement up.

  • We believe in the power of diversity: make sure you have speakers from a full range of backgrounds.
    Make sure everyone knows what they are doing, clear up as many doubts as possible before the event. Have defined roles for each individual in the team.

  • Consider having breaks between sessions - you will greatly appreciate a breather (and often participants will too!)

Dissemination

  • If transitioning a recurring event from in-person to virtual (and therefore potentially international), don’t forget to stick to your roots: if it’s always been a regional event then use it as an opportunity to feature your region on the international scale rather than shying away from it in order to appeal more widely. Think about what the aim of your event is - has it been done before, what will it do differently that will add to what has been done previously? This is your USP!

  • Use social media effectively: Attractive posts work better. A countdown to the registration opening and also the event itself can help to build excitement:

  • Appealing visuals and graphics go a long way when trying to stand out on social media posts. Make sure your posts have an image so that they aren’t missed.

  • Know your audience and how to best reach them. This could be a particular social media platform or it could also be through mailing lists and websites.

Technology

  • If you are worried about connection issues for some keynotes, have some pre recorded presentations (they will ensure the talk is delivered and within the time set in the schedule) - however, it is also important to have these keynotes present for Q&A. It’s what makes virtual events different from watching a youtube video!

  • Always incorporate an option for networking - whether that is through the networking function on Hopin, breakout rooms on Zoom, threads on Twitter... - participants will find this very useful

  • Tech rehearsals with each speaker in the days leading up to the event are mission critical - test camera, mic and screen share. These are best done with the computer/laptop and WiFi router that they plan to use on the day.

On the Day

  • Have someone help with communication throughout the day - if you have someone on emails and social media it means attendees can be supported easily and quickly if they have issues.

  • Have an allocated person to live-tweet throughout the event. Even better if they use a range of functions, including polls and questions, to engage and facilitate discussion with the delegates and also non-attendees can catch-up.

  • If you are using a virtual conference tool, set up mic and cam testing rooms throughout the day, so that speakers can test their tech before jumping in a room. Having a team member present in testing rooms to troubleshoot any issues in real time is also really helpful for delegates and speakers. Also have a document or list of FAQs sent to speakers beforehand, maybe in the platform invitation email.

  • If sessions have a chairperson from the committee make sure they are familiar with the tech and quick troubleshooting solutions. Also if they have a copy of the presentation slides and are able to screen share it can make it much less stressful for the presenter.

  • Always have a Plan B, regardless of how smooth you expect the conference to proceed.

Follow up

  • Give a timeline of what attendees should expect after the conference.

  • Send your feedback forms the same day or shortly following the event. You can design your own feedback form on MedAll and the results can be automatically stored in your portfolio. You can send the feedback form link to delegates in the chat box on the day, or paste their emails into the feedback form tool as an “assessor” and it will send them a one-time link so that they can’t be forwarded to people who didn’t attend. When delegates complete the form they are automatically offered a certificate and can have it perfectly stored and categorised in their MedAll portfolio.

  • It can be nice to post some reflections online, whether from team members or delegates.

  • Write down your thoughts on how it could be improved next time. It’s worth doing this close to the event as you may forget what could be done better next time if you leave this reflection to a later date.

  • Thank everyone- it might take a little while to do this, but events are a huge team effort.

  • Make sure you have a day to rest afterwards- it can be exhausting!

Build nice feedback forms.
Automatic Certificates.
Made for healthcare events.

MedAll helps you to easily build and send powerful feedback forms for your event or teaching session.
It generates an analysed summary for your portfolio and can automatically offer a certificate to delegates.

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