• Popcorn

• Paper cones to fill with nuts and candy

• “Pod” seating—six-foot, classroom-style tables facing each other, with three seats on either side and two at the far end

• A scattering of toys and other things to fiddle with and munch on spread across the tabletops

• Presenters lounging on soft furniture behind a coffee table

These were just a few of the clues that this session on improving engagement at meetings wouldn’t be a typical talking-head presentation.

And it wasn’t. The session, part of the Ninth Annual Pharma Forum last year in Orlando, co-organized by MeetingsNet and The Center for Business Intelligence, aimed to show life sciences meeting planners how to add value by creating more meaningful experiences, better understanding how their attendees learn, and encouraging more attendee engagement during live events. “You need to understand who your attendees are, keep it interactive, and help them learn,” said panelist Sonal Humane, associate director, investigator meeting management, with Merck. “And then listen to, and act on, the feedback you receive.”