Meetings Memo: Bridge the Gap

Virtual meeting ambassadors reduce the digital divide.

The virtual component of hybrid meetings allows new online audiences to engage, but there’s often a big disconnect between what face-to-face participants experience compared to virtual attendees. To bridge that gap, the American Academy of Ophthalmology launched a virtual meeting ambassador program at its November 2017 annual meeting in New Orleans.

AAO picked seven physician attendees to act as the “eyes and ears” for remote attendees and go around the meeting to capture photos and videos of content they find interesting to share with the online audience,  said Melanie Rafaty, CMP, DES, AAO’s director of scientific meetings to Convene magazine.

AAO selected ambassadors who were already active participants in the organization’s social channels because they knew they’d be able to identify the best parts to share with their peers, according to Rafaty.

As for guidelines, AAO told the ambassadors two things: They needed to post at least twice a day, and authenticity mattered most.

The goal was to give the more than 3,000 ophthalmology professionals from 110 countries who registered for the online experience a better idea of what they were missing onsite. While letting the ambassadors run loose entailed some risk, the experiment worked out well.

And Rafaty hopes it pays off in other ways as well, such as converting virtual attendees to face-to-face ones.

(RoschetzkyI Stock Photo/Getty Images)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!