With a pharmaceutical conference scheduled for March 22nd, the week many states’ stay at home orders went into effect (including New York), Fun Lee and her team at MJH Life Sciences had to act quickly to change their in-person event to virtual. The decision to go virtual was driven by two factors: wanting to use grants received from pharmaceutical companies for educational content and to provide continuing education to their attendees.
About two weeks after the original dates for the conference the virtual program launched. MJH Life Sciences had a webinar platform they had been using and due to the short turn around chose it. The platform was not conducive to staff who have never conducted a virtual event of 90 minutes in length. So, it was suggested the speakers record their presentation, show the presentations as a webinar and hold a live Q&A with the speakers after the presentations. Finding a setting to record where they could accomplish the professional look they wanted proved challenging. In addition, some of the speakers did not want to leave their homes. In the end, MJH was able to record five of the six speakers. They resolved this issue for future virtual events by finding faculty who can record from their home or office.
The event was successful. 1500 people have attended the three sessions; their in-person events usually have 100-200 attendees. However, the virtual event was free whereas there is a charge for the in-person event. MJH found the best time to schedule the sessions was 8:00-9:30pm EDT. Fun Lee said her advice for other planners wanting to convert a face-to-face event to a virtual is “just roll with it” and let intuition take over. Really not too different than advice you would get for face-to-face events!