When you put your best effort into planning a life sciences meeting that will be engaging, informative, and compliant, you deserve to get the best insights back. Basic engagement metrics will tell you how many people there were, how many questions they answered, and if they scored the meeting positively at the end. Actionable insights, however, tell a story about the meeting that is meaningful to the organization. This story puts the attendee experience into words, shows what the return on investment was, and even points to follow up or changes that could help reach the organization’s goals in the future. Weaving this story together starts with asking the right types of questions during the meeting.
Pick a direction
What direction will your story ultimately take? Prioritize what you need to know after the meeting. This is likely simple engagement metrics as previously mentioned, but also so much more. You might need information that enhances drug development or patient treatment. For example, is a particular disease more prevalent in different geographic areas? You may also need insights into whether the key content was understood, which is beneficial for return on investment and future planning. When you identify the story you’d like the meeting insights to tell, you can begin to engineer the engagement and subsequent data collection that will help you get it.
Every good story starts with character development. To make sure you get an engaging and useful story, you need to know your characters or, in this case meeting attendees, and what you can expect of them. Who will be in the meeting? What knowledge is inherent to their profession or skillset? What additional insights would they have at their professional or experience level? Tying who will be in the room to why they’re there helps you develop questions around the attendees’ ability to provide insight. For example, maybe you’re trying to learn more about a particular disease’s regional occurrence and whether treatment methods have changed. Gather demographic information that tells you whether the attendees come from different regions and what their level of experience is. If they don’t come from varied regions or have enough experience to indicate if treatment has changed, you may need to revise what you expect to learn from them. It’s also important to be prepared to learn something new during the meeting and use that new insight to adjust your thinking.
As the pieces of the story come together, context is critical to understanding the big picture. (Note how it’s impossible to solve a mystery when the writer leaves out that one critical detail of someone’s motive!) Demographic information is one way to provide context to an answer. Another valuable tool for gaining deeper insight is the confidence score.
Polling can provide understanding as to how much attendees know about a topic. Conducting pre-meeting and post-meeting polls demonstrates how well you were able to shift perceptions and knowledge in key content areas. Confidence scoring provides another layer of context to your polling questions. Ask a question, but also ask the respondents to indicate their level of confidence with their answer. You may find, for example, that 90 percent answered correctly, which would seem good. However, if you look at the confidence score and find that only 60 percent were confident in that answer, that means many people were guessing or could easily think differently when faced with that question in practical application. You could also find that overall, 85 percent of respondents were extremely confident in their answers to a particular question, but 50 percent got it wrong. What made them so sure of their wrong answer? You might assess if something in the way the content was presented was confusing.
Also consider adding confidence scoring to the pre-and post-meeting knowledge-based questions to gain a better understanding of return on education and whether follow-up is needed to make sure critical content is acquired.
Keep it moving
A great story builds on itself, adding richer detail as it goes. The questions you ask throughout your meeting should aim to do the same thing. Avoid redundancy that feels like it’s wasting attendees’ time. If you’ve gathered demographic information pre-event, make sure you have a way to capture those demographics and combine them with the meeting data. Avoid asking the same questions in the meeting that were asked beforehand to allow your characters to focus on the journey.
Similarly, no one wants to spend an entire meeting answering questions. Yes, the more data you collect, the more options you have to compare, contrast and drill down with it. However, identifying seven or fewer questions that will be the most telling is better than creating participant fatigue. Keep the questions and possible answers as short and concise as you can to encourage completion. Also, where long surveys are provided, we recommend splitting them up and pushing them throughout the meeting to maintain a level of engagement from start to finish. This helps avoid low response rates caused when people leave the meeting early and miss a post-survey completely.
Plan for sequels
In many cases, a meeting is part of a series on a topic that will be presented across many regions or countries. Ask the same questions at every meeting so you can ultimately combine and compare this data. What was consistent across all in terms of knowledge gained, attendee experience and engagement, etc.? What were key differences? Using series benchmarking allows planners to adjust programming to ensure content stays sharp, engagement with it improves and the insights keep flowing.
Your ending is your last chance to make a story really memorable. Make sure you ask a question that includes a call to action. This asks for a commitment from the audience for what you want them to do, think or influence after being exposed to your content. This can reveal more about their experience than engagement metrics alone. For example, “What is your one key takeaway from today?” “Which of the following will you speak to someone about in the next 10 days?” or “What's the greatest challenge to you being successful after this meeting?”
Planning your life sciences meeting questions based on what information you would find most valuable after the meeting gets you what you need and more. Rather than a series of facts to parse out, thoughtful questions with context will provide you with a story of success and opportunity, as well as insights for the future.