The EORTC events team have had a challenging year, this newly formed team had to convert large EORTC conferences (EBCC12, ENA 2020, and IBCD2020), which were going to be held in Barcelona, into virtual conferences as well as supporting and organising the virtual EORTC group meetings.
“The year 2020 has been a year to remember. The pandemic has turned our events plans upside down,” said Said Laghmari, EORTC Senior Events Manager. “The challenge was to convert the meetings from face to face to virtual ones within a short period of time, keeping all the elements of a physical meeting. It was a considerable feat of reorganising, developing and planning.”
Depending on the nature of the meeting and conference, different virtual platforms have been sourced by the team. For the large conferences where there are abstracts, exhibition and a number of parallel sessions and presentations, a tailor made platform was used. For the group meetings, the platform was Webex or Microsoft teams.
“Over 6500 delegates coming from more than 100 countries have taken part in EORTC Virtual conferences and Group meetings, we have seen a threefold increase in the number of delegates participating virtually compared to physical meetings, increasing our global outreach,” said Said. “However from our conducted surveys, we see that majority of delegates prefer a physical meeting as they miss networking with peers. We believe that a virtual component to all conferences and meetings is here to stay and the events team is now looking into organising hybrid conferences.”
The capacity to organise virtual meetings opens up a lot of possibilities to bring peer to peer learning and discussion in an inexpensive and easy accessible format. It allows EORTC to connect with members and other external stakeholders on common topics as was the case of the EORTC webinars hosted on the occasion of the Breast Cancer and Movember awareness campaigns.
EORTC awareness campaign webinars attracts large audiences from around the world
Laurence Decroix, EORTC Communication coordinator, organized the webinars for the EORTC awareness campaigns for Breast cancer and Movember months. “During the cancer awareness campaign in October and November 2020, we have observed an increase in the number of delegates participating in the webinars organized by EORTC,” she said. The participation rate of the webinar for Breast Cancer Awareness month 2020 has quadrupled compared to the public session that was organized at EORTC headquarters in 2019 (34 vs. 169 participants this year). Furthermore, these webinars attracted various profiles. The participants came from different backgrounds even though the webinars about de-escalation of breast cancer and the measurement efficacy of the quality of life of prostate cancer patients were mainly targeting a lay audience.
Laurence emphasized the point that: “In order to benefit from this experience, for our future webinars, we need to adapt the language of our presentations with the type of audience.”
“Furthermore, the online event has allowed people from many different countries to join enabling us to communicate all over Europe as well as outside its borders with, participants from Australia, United States, Russia, for example. These webinars truly showcase the global outreach of EORTC, allowing us to communicate our important research to a multitude of people,” she concluded.