Achieving successful outcomes from virtual meetings: The Porterhouse approach (plus some practical tips.)

Virtual training, meetings and events


The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for virtual meetings and events. The current social distancing requirements that are in place, plus the environmental need to reduce carbon emissions, mean it is increasingly important that we all embrace this ‘new normal’ by using digital technology to keep industries – in particular both the medical communications and healthcare industries – moving forward during these unprecedented times.

However, at Porterhouse, we do not adopt the approach of simply converting face-to-face (F2F) communications to virtual communications. Instead, we revert back to client objectives, putting science and insight at the forefront to develop creative and engaging solutions that achieve the goals of our clients. Our approach combines strategic thinking with the latest virtual technology and expertise to transform medical training, meetings and events in innovative ways.

Please get in touch if you would like to hear more about our integrated approach to digital communications. In the meantime, here are some tactical tips on how to get the best from your online training sessions and meetings:

Before you start the session

Whether virtual or F2F, much of the work for these events occurs in the planning stages.

Digital platform

Choose an easy-to-access and self-contained digital platform with functionality that enables the assignment of moderators and presenters, who will be able to control chat and Q&A functions, communicate privately via chat with each other, and selectively mute all or individual participants.

Participant engagement

Incorporate interactive elements during the virtual meeting to enhance the active engagement of participants, such as:

  • Live Q&As
  • Quizzes (pre-built quizzes that participants can access via their device during meetings can encourage audience interaction)
  • Surveys (surveys that can be accessed during meetings through a link or QR code provide participants with the opportunity to offer instant feedback on presentations within the meeting)

Timings and breaks

If a global audience is expected to attend, suggest holding the meeting at a time that allows for maximum attendance worldwide (e.g. 12:00 Central European Time). If the meeting will be pre-recorded, repeating the meeting may be an option; however, this can be challenging if live moderation is needed (under these circumstances, on-demand access may be preferred).

For meetings planned to run for more than 2 hours, a short refreshment break of around 5–10 minutes is a great way to give participants a break from their screens.

On-demand access

Recording a meeting through a hosting platform is a great way to ensure on-demand access for those who are unable to attend the original meeting, or to accommodate those who would like to revisit the content for future reference. Important: If the meeting is being recorded, make sure to include a prior warning stating that this is the case (e.g. include a written warning on a housekeeping slide at the beginning of the meeting).

Briefing calls with moderators/presenters

It is important to brief key stakeholders (moderators/presenters) on the content of the meeting and also perform technical rehearsals to make sure they are familiar with the functionality of the digital platform. For example, this could include how to control and exchange control of the screen and how to respond to incoming questions. These rehearsals are also a good opportunity to inform them if they or someone else will be controlling their slides.

Ensure that key stakeholders are encouraged to join the call early to test their audio, visual and slide-sharing capabilities.

Starting the session


Clearly outline the agenda for the session and what will be expected from participants.

Housekeeping slide

Provide a housekeeping slide at the start of the meeting that covers the programme for the session and includes general information such as:

  • Frequency/times of breaks
  • Virtual meeting etiquette, such as keeping microphones on mute and how to pose questions (e.g. through a chat function or a dedicated Q&A function, if available)
  • Any technical information on the running of the meeting

During the session


Make sure to capture screenshots during the meeting for use in post-meeting summaries and email follow-ups with participants and presenters (e.g. thank you notes).


Save chats / capture and save screenshots of chats before exiting the meeting to collate feedback from participants and allow part of the agenda for future meetings to be tailored to cover key hot topics and FAQs.

Dedicated person

Include someone on the call whose role is to monitor and collate all questions and answers from chats or Q&As.

After the session

Feedback opportunity

Provide a post-meeting survey to allow attendees to give their feedback.

Market insight analysis

This may be implemented both before and after relevant meetings for which assessment of behavioural change is of interest. At Porterhouse, we have developed the Porterhouse BPS, a bespoke metrics tool to measure the effectiveness of training and other educational events.

As scientific and medical communications experts, Porterhouse Medical Group deliver scores of successful virtual meetings and events for our global pharma clients every year. Our approach combines strategic thinking with the latest virtual technology and expertise to transform medical training, meetings and events in innovative ways.

Please get in touch if you would like to hear more about our integrated approach or if we can help you with your latest challenge.

We would love to help!