November 5, 2020

Best Practice Series: 4 Ways to Engage Large Groups Online

Virtual engagement works for large groups, too – learn about our favorite ways to keep internal and external stakeholders actively involved.

Life science companies mounted a quick response to travel and movement restrictions enacted during the COVID-19 crisis – with clinical trials on the line and the need for even more coordination and collaboration as the pandemic unfolded, teams turned en masse to virtual communication in an effort to keep critical work moving along.

Even when live meetings can safely resume, organizations are likely to continue leveraging the cost and time savings of virtual engagement. Recent research shows that virtual events will likely remain popular well into 2021 and beyond, with event planners reporting increasing demand for virtual meetings over the next 12 to 18 months.

Planning a successful online engagement for large groups requires a different approach than a 10-person advisory board. Here are four best practices we’ve developed that life science teams can use to engage and communicate with large groups in a virtual environment.

Add asynchronous discussion to real-time interaction

Real-time meetings – one-time webcasts or video conferences that require every attendee to be available at the same time – encounter some of the same roadblocks as face-to-face meetings: schedules that differ due to work hours or time zones, the (often false!) assumption that everyone will be able to give their full attention for the duration of the meeting, and that all agenda items will fit into the time allotted.

Using over-time meetings to supplement live events preserves the personal touch of peer interaction while being friendlier to everyone’s schedule. Live meetings can still occur via video conference, but participants who can’t attend can watch a recording and participate in an asynchronous discussion. Another option is to hold a kickoff webcast to make introductions and set an agenda, or a wrap-up webcast to discuss the results of an over-time session.

Create 24x7 communication hubs

With employees located all over the world, global organizations often struggle with internal communication. Time zone and language differences can stand in the way of keeping large teams up-to-date on critical projects or obtaining feedback from key employees.

Life science teams are increasingly turning to virtual engagement platforms to augment or replace more inefficient methods, like mass emails or hard-to-navigate intranets. A customized online resource center or community that’s available 24/7 from any connected device allows internal personnel or invited group members to view resources, ask questions, read news items, or interact with experts.

Take later-stage clinical trials online

Any application where life science companies seek to interact with large groups of physicians or patients is a good opportunity for online engagement. For example, later-stage clinical trials can involve large numbers of investigators, sites, and patients. Staying connected with these disparate groups can be a challenge, but bringing different aspects of clinical trial activities into an over-time discussion platform can decrease internal workloads, accelerate insight gathering, and increase the number of touchpoints with physicians and nurses.

Establish working group hubs for long-term projects

Long-running projects like steering committees, publication teams, and clinical trial protocol development can involve participants all over the world. Traditional approaches to engaging these groups include inefficient email chains, poorly attended web conferences, and outdated document portals. Shifting these projects to an online discussion platform offers the opportunity to organize resources in one place and gather resources while significantly reducing the pain of scheduling, managing, and completing key pieces of work – even if the group includes both internal and external stakeholders.

To learn more about how Within3 works with life science teams to create customized virtual engagement solutions and generate 10x ROI in one year, download a free white paper, “Transforming Communication on an Enterprise Scale.”