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Industry conferences in the clinical research space widely benefit attendees, accelerate industry-wide innovation, as well as enabling collaboration between stakeholders. I sat down with Joan Chambers to learn more about her personal experience from attending industry events, as well as her top tips for maximising attendee and speaker participation. Joan’s experience includes multiple senior leadership roles including at Cambridge Healthtech Institute, CenterWatch, ClinX, CISCRP, and has now assumed the role of CEO at Greater Gift.


Key Benefits of Participating in Industry Meetings

The benefits of attending industry meetings can vary depending on the content style, geographical catchment, event format, and commercial model. Some larger exhibitions will put less importance on content or presentations, relying heavily on attendees walking the exhibition floor. Whereas smaller shows are likely to be more content-centric, positioning the attendee experience around learnings and sharing best practices.


Joan lists her key benefits of attending industry events as “professional development, networking, collaboration, innovation, inspiration and motivation, knowledge exchange, and education”


Adding: “You can keep up to date with the most recent innovations, trends, and best practises…. Exposure broadens your knowledge and improves your skills”


“Building a strong network inside the sector can be quite beneficial for career development”.


“And being surrounded by passionate people who are making important contributions to clinical research can be quite inspiring. Keynote speakers at conferences frequently share their success stories, motivating participants to exceed their limits and strive for perfection”.


“Exposure at conferences can motivate you to think creatively and innovate, ultimately contributing to developments in the industry”.



8 Top Tips for Maximising Event Participation

When spending time out of the office it is key to do all you can to utilise your time effectively. Below Joan lists some top tips for maximising participation at industry events, reminding “conferences are about more than just passive listening; they are also about active involvement and networking”.


1. Take a look at the agenda before the conference and identify the presentations, seminars, and conversations that are relevant to your interests and aspirations. Make a timetable to ensure you don't miss the sessions that are most important to you. 2. Use the Q&A sessions and schedule networking time to meet presenters, experts, and other attendees. Ask insightful questions, share your experiences, and exchange ideas. These interactions can result in useful insights and possible collaborations. 3. While it's important to focus on your specific area of interest, try to explore sessions outside your comfort zone. This will broaden your knowledge and expose you to different perspectives and innovative approaches. 4. Take advantage of the conference's networking possibilities. Engage in conversation with all attendees. Exchange contact information and then follow up to maintain those connections. Access to new ideas, partnerships, and prospective job prospects can be gained through networking.


5. Take notes on significant points, interesting findings, and any resources mentioned during the conference. Take some time afterward to go over your notes and reflect on them. This will help to reinforce your knowledge and ensure you don't overlook any key elements. 6. Many conferences include digital resources including presentation slides, video recordings, or abstract booklets. Use these resources to go over sessions you missed or to refresh your memory on key topics. 7. Look for the conference hashtags on social media channels such as LinkedIn. This allows you to keep up with real-time discussions, share thoughts, and interact with other attendees who may have different points of view to offer. 8. Spend some time in the exhibition area, where organizations display their latest products, services, and innovations. This will give you insights into cutting-edge technologies and solutions that can help you with your clinical research work.


Concluding our interview Joan adds “Conferences, when done right, can function as active centers for sharing research, promoting collaborations, and nurturing breakthroughs. They offer a unique opportunity for stakeholders to engage, exchange ideas, and establish collaborations that can lead to substantial breakthroughs in patient care.”



References & Context

Joan attended and participated in a panel discussion at COG New England, organised by Pharmaceutical Business Conference Group in April 2023.


Greater Gift is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating clinical trial participants and everyone involved in clinical research and advancing community awareness, trust, diversity, and engagement in clinical trials as a care option. More information can be found here: https://www.greatergift.org/


** Disclaimer: the views shared here are authors alone, and not of the Pharmaceutical Business Conference Group, Greater Gift or any other organisations mentioned **

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