Meeting professionals have to recognize that the same rules don’t apply to both face-to-face and virtual meetings. “The method of presenting is very different,” said panelist Scott Gray, president and chief operating officer, Gray Consulting, Philadelphia, who hosted a roundtable during the conference on virtual and hybrid meetings. “Not enough attention is paid upfront to training presenters in this different realm so they understand the perspective of the remote participant and how to keep them engaged.” One meeting professional said she works with adult learning experts in developing the online programs to effectively engage virtual attendees.

Another challenge medical meeting professionals are facing is getting buy-in from top stakeholders to move forward with virtual or hybrid meetings. “These technologies and kinds of meetings can provide significant cost savings,” said Gray, but many agreed that senior management still doesn’t embrace the concept. “Even when you are able to demonstrate that the quality of information presented and the absorption will still remain high, with a lot of cost savings, there is still a lot of reluctance to it,” he added.

“Virtual meetings haven’t evolved as much as we talked about five years ago,” stated one planner. “But they do have a place.”