All too often event organisers get told: “We need to have iPads at our next conference”.
the thinking behind how they’re used stops right there. And if you’re
not careful your apparently forward-looking client can not only end up
looking ignorant and foolish; but like they’ve got money to burn.
for the use of digital products needs to be implemented from the very
first strategy and content development meetings. Not just when you are
merely using digital technology in its simplest form, for real time
voting and free text feedback, but also when you want to hear from
people ahead of time, create conversations, and get them immersed in the
content so that when they arrive they’re already revved up and primed
to hear what different sections of the audience thought about what, and
Planning also needs to pay heed to the wider audience;
those who aren’t even able to come to an event. ‘Let’s have a webcast’,
we’re often asked. ‘Must be worth it’? Yes, but only if you really
appreciate what remote delegates need to see and hear to feel fully
involved. Like when they’ll get the chance to ask questions, when they
might hear what others are thinking, and when on earth those people in
grey suits are going to stop reading from sets of figures and diagrams
that they can’t even see.
Then there’s the next generation of
delegates, the technologically-hungry delegates who’ve bought their own
iPads and smartphones and are used to receiving content when they want
it, where they want it, how they want it. Yes, those eager beavers who
wonder who on earth left all of this ageing kit on the tables
(especially when there’s a superb system they know can be used on their
own devices: tools they are already comfortable with, plus a nice fat
battery life that won’t let them down; a system which can adapt the
content according to their feedback, in real time, where subjects can be
focused on, misunderstandings corrected, complex information conveyed
at a considered pace, deep dive sessions activated in an instant, new
information shared and debated).
Unquestionably, the future of
events lies in embracing technology and all it has to offer, but it must
never forget the needs and expectations of the audience, too. This new
breed of delegate isn’t going to sit through endless one-way Powerpoint
presentations. At best they will walk out. At worst they will Tweet and
blog about how antiquated your conference agenda is and how poorly it
As the Swiss Toni character used to say on the Fast Show,
“Using events technology is like making love to a beautiful woman.
Avoid her needs at your peril”. Well, I’m sure you get the gist.