By Jon Busby, Digital Director, Twogether
The well-trodden conference trail, we’ve all been there.
Waking up early in the morning to sit in a long keynote. Struggling through endless sessions about one product or another. Going home with a huge bag of flyers, which ends up sitting under the desk and is never looked at again (but hey…at least you got some freebies!). Feeling that there’s got to be a better way of doing this. And there is.
Emerging technologies can completely transform a conference or event into something challenging and spellbinding. It just takes thought and planning. Three essential tips:
Create interaction when normally there is none:
– Every event has an app, but with the availability (and expectation) in venue wireless, it is now possible to introduce live interaction into your keynotes. We’re working on synchronised slide decks, pushed to each attendee’s phone in real time during a keynote, giving them supporting facts or additional material instantly to supplement on-screen slides. And it’s really ‘tweetable’
– Encourage users to vote or submit questions, also in real time.
– We’re all used to barcoded badges now, they’ve been around for years (decades even!). Isn’t it time we tried something more exciting? With the falling costs of RFID and with the reduced prototyping time for embedded systems, why not make your event badge a wristband, facilitating online payment or freebie pick-up by being scanned. We’re even experimenting with technologies that allow attendees to network just by ‘bumping’ each other’s badge, goodbye business cards!
Cross the offline/online divide:
– Flyers, for me, are the biggest conference pain point. I hate lugging back a suitcase of promotional material that just lies, unread, in the office. What a waste. I dread to think of all the energy, brainpower and printing costs that have gone into their production. For an Intuit conference this year, we tried something very different. We used new technology that enabled users to build a virtual ‘wishlist’ of apps on an interactive multi-touch table. It was engaging, it was fresh – and surpassed all our expectations. In fact, an incredible 78% of users who logged in to the table added apps to their wish list.
Of course, all this comes with a ‘health warning’. Novel attracts crowds, but make sure it adds value. Just using a new technology, like the multi-touch table, is cool – but make sure it achieves the goal.
It doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. Experimenting with new tech can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the technology to prove your need and then scale from there.
And don’t get carried away. New emerging technology is exciting but make sure you’ve got the basics covered. Just because people get too many flyers, it doesn’t mean that a well-produced, relevant flyer won’t work. Mix it up, keep it fresh and use the medium to enhance the message. Technology can’t rescue a bad conference but it can transform a good one into something unforgettable.