Meetings are an inevitability of the pharmaceutical world, but that doesn't mean that a single format is always the clear winner. There are advantages - and disadvantages - to both in-person (destination) and digital (virtual) meeting formats; the right choice for your needs will depend on several important factors, such as:
If your event is still several weeks or months out, a destination meeting is appropriate, as your attendees will still have time to secure travel, lodging, and free time to attend. If, however, your event is time-sensitive and deals with a pressing situation or a single important breakthrough, a virtual meeting may be more appropriate. An online meeting will give your attendees the luxury of attending from the comfort of their home or office, which may boost overall attendance.
If the purpose of your meeting is to explain a concept to a large audience, a virtual meeting is likely to be the most convenient: not only will you be able to show visual aids clearly and simultaneously to all attendees, the session(s) can be recorded and transcribed for later consumption. If, however, the purpose of your meeting is to produce something: a solution, a committee, etc. - you may prefer the spontaneous collaborative environment that face-to-face meetings provide. The one exception here is an impromptu scrum or brainstorming meeting with a small number of individuals, perhaps 4 or 5.
This facet goes for both senses of the word: the overall number of expected attendees, as well as the quality of your potential audio-visual equipment. If you're inviting a small handful of pharmaceutical professionals, for example, either format will work. As the number of attendees goes up, so does the degree of difficulty for an in-person meetup: larger meeting spaces typically mean larger invoices and more expensive planning. If you lack the equipment: large conference screens, projectors, amplifiers, and so on - in-person attendees could find themselves missing important parts of your presentations.
Importance and Tone:
Need to deliver disappointing or difficult news? Always opt for an in-person meeting so that your attendees can gain context from your tone, expressions, and body language around the situation. If you intend for your event to add industry credibility and consideration to your brand or company, in-person meetings are also an important stage to demonstrate skills. More casual discussions, however, won't need a banquet hall for adequate communication: a computer-centric platform will perform just as well.
Meeting style and duration help to define a pharmaceutical company's culture, so what does yours currently say about you? Choosing whether or not to hold an in-person or virtual meeting will set the stage for future meetings, so choose wisely. Always ask yourself these three questions:
- Can I adequately explain this/these concept(s) in an email or phone call?
- (Yes: Virtual | No: Destination)
- Am I likely to misunderstand or be misunderstood without tonal context and body language?
- (Yes: Destination | No: Virtual)
- Can I afford the space, equipment, and time required to demonstrate my concept to a large audience?
- (Yes: Destination | No: Virtual)
No matter which meeting style you decide on, be sure to prepare your notes and practice your speaking prior to the event! This will make for an easy, informative presentation that your audience is sure to appreciate.