Events Virtual networking etiquette

While waiting for a return to in-person events, some conference organisers have begun providing attendees with guides to make the most of virtual environments. Here are some of BIOMEDigital’s key recommendations: ■ Make it matter: No doubt the look and feel of your home office is not the same as a traditional office, but that doesn’t mean you should get comfy. Come prepared to fully engage. For example, use video if others are and dress appropriately to make the meeting feel real. If you’re hosting, come with an agenda. If you’re attending, research the host and come with questions.

■ Mute your mic (sometimes): We’ve all been on large virtual calls when a persistent tapping sound or loud cough interrupts out of nowhere. For big calls where you’re mostly listening, mute is the way to go. For smaller calls, however, mute is not a given. According to Google, “milliseconds matter”. A delay of even five-tenths of a second when fumbling to unmute yourself is more than double what we’re used to in-person and it’s distracting. Plus, those ‘mmhmms’ and ‘OKs’ are a natural part of conversation, and demonstrate engagement.

■ Pass the mic: Studies show that we take 25% fewer speaking turns on video calls where social cues are harder to decipher. With people chiming in less, video calls tend to be less dynamic. Do your part to make sure the conversation flows. Be inclusive. If you’ve had the stage for a while, ask someone else their thoughts.

■ Stay in the ‘room’: It’s tempting to check email, IM with colleagues, or start opening other browser tabs, but losing focus not only takes you elsewhere; it’s distracting for the host if they see your eyes shifting or hear you typing.

■ Light-bulb moments: Sometimes we’re so focused on who we’re speaking to, we forget to check ourselves out. Make sure the room you’re in is brightly lit or you’re near a window so you’re visible to others. If you can, use a neutral background to limit distractions.

■ Save the snacks for later: Similar to the first point, we can get a little too comfortable in our home offices, but even if you spent the morning home- schooling your kids and skipping meals, keep the snacks (and crunching) at bay.

Source: BIOMEDigital

presentation, presentation,” he admits. “Now it has an event character. We have a host – a moderator – who guides all the participants through the day, as well as a matchmaking programme. “When you attend a virtual event, you need to be more active as an exhibitor. You can filter, you can select, you can directly contact other attendees on the platform, but only if you know all of these functions. The biggest lesson we learnt was that we need to train visitors and exhibitors on how to make the event successful for them, not just provide the platform.”

They did have a go at replicating the spontaneous meetings Carrasco and his colleagues are missing so much by allowing participants to create separate ‘meeting rooms’ to discuss topics of their choice, but Boss is realistic about the fact that it was never going to be the same. “People are looking forward to meeting again personally, whether it’s business or private, none more than me,” he says. “I took over MedtecLIVE during the pandemic, so I know lots of people from the computer but I’ve not met many of them live.”

Digital takes off

Nuremberg Messe, where MedtecLIVE is usually held, plans to resume physical events in the third quarter of 2021, but Boss is hesitant to call them ‘hybrid’ events. “It’s just a buzzword,” he says. “I prefer to describe them as live events with digital components.”

past 40 to 50 years; the business model didn’t change. So, for us as an exhibition company, the coronavirus was a booster for digital transformation.”

Christopher Boss, MedtecLIVE

All in all, MedtecLIVE 2021 took place across four streams for eight hours, three days in a row, with a focus on content and contacts. “We don’t rely on 3D models or avatars walking around,” Boss says. “This is something we don’t think is essential for our customers.”


For him, it was about time to adjust. “Trade fairs have been the same for the past 40 to 50 years; the business model didn’t change. So, for us as an exhibition company, the coronavirus was a booster for digital transformation,” he says. This will mean a wider target audience, as attendees who are only interested in one or two talks can access the event online, while speakers who may not have made the trip from the USA to Germany can still share their expertise via live streaming. MEDICA, too, is planning for an on-site event in Düsseldorf in November 2021, by which time organisers say many people in Germany and other countries, especially in Europe, will have been vaccinated. Their plan is to expand their digital offerings and dovetail them with the on-site event. Prior to the pandemic, MEDICA was already supplemented by an online portal, which provided current industry information, documented trends and allowed exhibitors to display their products and get in touch with their customers via the matchmaking function. The team is now developing this to include new online formats for communication, presentation and distribution of products, and working flat-out to make this content more attractive and user-friendly for attendees.

Carrasco will be the first through the door at Messe Düsseldorf. In fact, as he tells me over Zoom, I should measure his excitement about getting back on the road again by the speed with which he managed to get the first dose of the vaccine. He received it the day before we spoke. “My daughter didn’t want me to get it because she knows it means I will be away more,” he says. “But I miss my second home – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. I even miss jetlag. I miss seeing my customers face to face and I miss viewing the world as small. Now to me the other side of the world looks really far away again.” ●

Medical Device Developments /

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