Q&A: Adjusting to the Hybrid Meeting Landscape in the Health and Science Industry
When COVID-19 hit and shifted the working world fully remote in March 2020, employees in all professions and industries had to adjust quickly. As the pandemic marches on, we continue to pivot and adjust. We visited with Sharon Choe, Senior Vice President & Head of Investor Outreach & Corporate Access at LaVoieHealthScience to get her insights on how the virtual world has been impacted as it continues to be faced with variants and upticks in COVID. The meeting options have evolved from physical in person meetings to opportunities for efficient online interactions.
Sharon Choe is the Senior Vice President & Head of Investor Outreach & Corporate Access at LaVoieHealthScience. With a 26-year background in life sciences, Sharon specializes in the development and execution of strategic investor relations programs for public and pre-IPO companies in the life sciences sector.
With nearly two years of COVID impacting our day-to-day lives, in your opinion, how has the health and science industry adapted to the virtual world when it comes to investor/business meetings?
S.C: One of the easier adjustments of today’s virtual world has been a decreased need to schedule travel arrangements which has led to the absence of costly travel expenses, coupled with greater convenience, and ease of conducting or attending investor meetings domestically and internationally across all geographies. The health and science industry has adapted quite well to the world of virtual meetings for both meeting coordinators and investors alike. However, one of the most difficult adjustments to the virtual meetings for investors has been “Zoom fatigue” due to endless days attending virtual meetings. As a result, there have been quiet periods between conferences which we have not experienced before.
If you had to give a client one piece of advice when it comes to virtual meetings what would it be?
S.C: The one piece of advice I would give to our client(s) when it comes to virtual meetings would be to remember that it is not so much about “what” you communicate to investors in the virtual world, but more so “how” you communicate. Virtual meeting software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom have greatly simplified the transition from physical in-person meetings to efficient online interactions, and the quality and content of what a client conveys to its key stakeholders and audiences remains the same. It is simply the venue that has changed.
Hybrid events have also provided a useful insurance for events—we are able to quickly pivot with hybrid options, we’re no longer thrown for a loop with illness, travel snafus, or weather considerations. The ability for meeting attendees to be in person or virtual at the drop of a hat makes a hybrid event extremely valuable.
What are the numbers telling us? Are virtual meetings hurting or enhancing the industry?
S.C: The numbers clearly tell us that virtual meetings have significantly increased to date. To illustrate this trend, Microsoft Teams has tracked a steadily consistent increase of daily active users (DAUs) from 13 million as of July 2019 to 115 million DAUs as of October 2020. The same story persists for Zoom’s platform which has increased from 10 million DAUs in December 2019 to 300 million DAUs as of October 2020 as well as Google Meet’s DAUs reaching approximately 100 million as of October 2020. Based on various polls, it’s apparent that most health and science companies, public and private investor, and scientific communities have adjusted quite well to our “new normal” of virtual meetings.
As we transition back to in person meetings, do you feel that virtual meetings will still be important, or do you think things will shift back to exclusively in person meetings over time? How do you see this affecting productivity in the workplace in the future?
S.C: Without a doubt, we will experience a transition back to in-person meetings given the true value of human interactions. Genuine chemistry, pressing the flesh and live face-to-face networking will always be a crucial part of our industry in strategic communications. Having said that, I also believe that since we have experienced the high productivity and low cost, high benefit of virtual meetings during this pandemic, that our world has evolved into a win-win dynamic where the combination of in-person and virtual meetings will now become the normal course of business, especially on a worldwide basis. At LHS, we interact with companies around the world, and this has worked in our favor and improved our ability to contribute our services to our current, as well as our new clients. As I see it, there is no downside in our blended worlds of in-person and virtual meetings in our “new normal”, will truly be the silver lining of our COVID-19 cloud.
As we prepare for the first JP Morgan Healthcare week in person meeting since the pandemic in San Francisco, we are looking forward to supporting our clients as they look to engage with their target stakeholders including investors, business partners, and media. With a mixture of meetings in person and virtual, we anticipate that the cadence of meetings will be more efficient with JP Morgan and the Biotech Showcase family of events meeting in person that week and the Needham Growth Conference and HC Wainwright Bioconnect Conferences meeting virtually. Are you attending #JPM2022? Contact us for an exclusive peek at our clients or if you want to learn how we can help you engage with your key stakeholders during this important event.
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