For both internal and external events, the key to presentations that engage is finding the right presenter and the right topic. Humane said to look for goals that are common to all attendees, and a topic that is “bigger” than the attendee (i.e., don’t focus on minutiae). “Remove barriers to participation—find ways to make them feel comfortable about asking questions—streamline the Q&A, and communicate more in less time,” she added.

Interactivity is also key to learning, said Almert. Give people interactive and immersive materials:

• “Finger fiddles on the table to help stimulate and keep people alert,” she said, explaining the toys and goodies on the table in front of her Pharma Forum participants.

• Visuals also help keep people engaged, so give attendees opportunities to write what they’re learning or brainstorming about on flip charts.

• Include peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities, which can be anything from polling using a mobile app to encouraging them to engage in social media pre-, during, and post-con. Also enable attendees to help co-create their experience by polling them pre-con to help set the agenda.

And, whatever you do, don’t just collect feedback and put it in a drawer. Collect it, learn from it, and use it to improve your next meeting. “Timing is important,” said Almert. “What do you do with the feedback—wait until just before next year to look at it? Or do you analyze and provide feedback to speakers? Take action on feedback and provide continuous communication.” And don’t forget to thank participants for providing their input.