By Louisa Watson, director of marketing, Wyboston Lakes
This was the year in which the movie Back to the Future was set. Save for a couple of over optimistic stabs in the dark (flying cars, hover-boards), the world dreamt up and then brought to the screen resembles our own in strange and peculiar ways, with robot technology, high tech specs, Skype style calling and biometrics.
In the last two decades technology has changed the way we live, the way we communicate in both our work and personal lives. It plays a vital role every day. It has changed how we socialise, how we do business. Our meetings, training and events are no different. In order to connect with our audience we have to communicate on the same platforms, finding ways, using technology to deliver, powerful events, conferences and training.
Today not only do we have improved technology with great AV capabilities, but we have technology that is totally new, stuff that helps us gather insight on visitors to exhibitions and events, or the mobile apps that guide us through an event, seminar or training session. It’s a combination that opens up new horizons for organisers in their quest to achieve professional levels of effectiveness, greater impact, delegate involvement and lasting outcomes.
Recently I was at a summit event, and was shocked when the speaker going through housekeeping points, said: ‘Make sure your mobile phones are switched on!’ We were then instructed to download an app. The app was an audience engagement platform that made it super-easy for anyone in the audience to ask questions and vote on live polls. This was a great example of how technology can bring more value to delegates and in turn the event itself.
I agree with the sentiment too that distraction can erode an event, those constantly tapping on their phones, penning emails on laptops or taking calls rather than engaging, but perhaps if these individuals were engaged from the start using the very technology that diverts them, then their urge to deter would be forgotten.
But technology does not just sit in the cloud, nor is it just about mental engagement, it can enhance the experience by making stuff simpler or by giving us more confidence.
At Wyboston Lakes, as well as 200Mb/s broadband, we also decided to install, Blu-ray connected ceiling mounted HD projectors. Easy access connection points were fitted allowing connections of any laptop, tablet, phone or other AV device without the need for cable connections. This new wireless technology allows simultaneous connection to internet and projector and provides a faster, stable connection than was possible before. The trainer can now present freely from tablet/iPad and with confidence.
It’s obvious that in theory the latest developments in IT, Wi-Fi and related areas can transform the effectiveness of meetings in numerous respects, but that’s only the case if those involved – organisers, event-leaders, delegates and the venues themselves – know exactly how to harness them.
We are no longer entering an age in which technology will dominate our lives – the truth is we’re in it.