2022 will see the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG) hold its first ever hybrid World Congress. Here, ISUOG’s Senior Events Manager, Saskia Dean, shares key learnings and insights gained from two years of virtual conferencing.
1. Congratulations on running another very successful ISUOG World Congress in October 2021. What was the biggest event highlight for you?
Although we missed meeting our ISUOG members and delegates face-to-face in 2021, we were pleased to put our learnings from 2020 to good use to deliver another great virtual congress in 2021.
I have two personal highlights. Firstly, we were delighted to welcome delegates from 134 countries; up from 122 in 2020. Of course, one of the benefits of going virtual is that the event is accessible to more people. We were also honoured to have patients speak on their personal experiences as part of the scientific program, which was a powerful new element of the program that we are committed to developing.
2. How has the shift to virtual over the past two years changed the way you develop and deliver your events?
Aside from our staff and committee members working and meeting online rather than face-to-face throughout the planning process, the biggest change was related to the format and flow of our scientific program to ensure it suited a diverse, online audience.
For example, we condensed our program into three-hour sections focused on one topic, factored in regular break times, planned each session carefully to ensure a balance of pre-recorded content and live discussion time, and tried to encourage high levels of interactivity with the virtual audience via Q&As and polls.
We have also tried to work closely with our industry partners to ensure they still see a valuable return on investment, for example, via facilitating the dissemination of online educational offerings.
3. Content sits at the heart of ISUOG’s events. How do you manage the content for your events, and how do ePresenter and eSpeaker support this?
Our program is quite complex, consisting of up to five parallel streams, pre-recorded and live content, invited faculty, oral abstract presenters, and poster presenters. We also offer session recordings and posters to view on-demand for delegates as soon as possible after they have aired live.
We use ePresenter to collate and present our electronic posters (around 800-900 per congress), which means our delegates can easily browse electronic posters by topic, rate them and contact the authors.
We use eSpeaker to collate, quality check and process our invited talks and oral abstracts (around 400-500 per congress), which we then coordinate to be viewable as live sessions and on-demand recordings.
4. What is your most important learning in 2021 that you would share with event managers in other organisations?
Our biggest learning in 2021 was that despite some of our concerns, delegates were still keen to connect and learn online, even after a long period of online-based meetings. However, it was, and remains, vital for event managers to consider the experience of both speakers and delegates at online meetings – to try and make it as engaging, interactive and rewarding as possible for everyone.
5. What do you look for in a supplier / partner (including event tech partners) for your events?
We look for suppliers who are specialists in their field and product, and are always looking to adapt and improve their service and technologies to meet the shifting demands of their clients. We also look for suppliers who are willing to be real partners with us, so we can work together to resolve problems, share ideas and deliver a great event together. This has been even more important than ever in recent years, as event organisers and suppliers alike have had to trial new processes and really learn on their feet.
6. What does 2022 hold for ISUOG’s events in terms of new technology or new directions with your event delivery?
In 2022, ISUOG will hold its first ever hybrid congress, which is an exciting prospect but also a challenging one. We will have delegates and speakers onsite and online so the biggest new requirement for us will be ensuring our program format and our online event platform will allow seamless interaction between everyone, whether they are onsite or at home.