Author: Marcus Fitzgerald
I’m very lucky in that my work and love of gadgets often meet.
There’s an exciting range of technology available, from audience responder devices and RFID technology, to apps and holograms.
Five years ago this type of technology was only available to events with larger budgets. Now, smaller events are accessing them, as we see an exponential rise in the number of developers with smarter and more cost-effective solutions. Only a few years ago, we were hiring audience responders that looked like bricks. They required the onsite support of the providers and came at a cost that sometimes rivalled the total AV budget. Nowadays, audiences are engaging on their own mobile device through a custom-branded webpage at a fraction of the cost.
Technology, thankfully, has found a cure for ‘death by PowerPoint’. More time is now allocated to conversations rather than presentations, ensuring attendees get the chance to partake in a dialogue that increases audience engagement. Yes, there is a risk that the session could steer off course but a good facilitator (and sometimes a little moderation at the technical desk) can ensure these tools are used to provide clarity on what is being presented on stage.
A recent event we produced had set aside almost 30% of the program to tackle a facilitated Q&A session. Initially, I was a little nervous thinking we wouldn’t fill the time. However, my fears were quickly allayed when we saw an influx of thought provoking questions that set up some great conversations among the panel and in the room. Attendees were very engaged.
Some of my key learnings from using these tools include
- Allow sufficient lead times for implementation. Start early and ask the developer lots of questions allowing them to also demonstrate some recent best class case studies.
- Brief in the speakers and facilitators so they understand the opportunity and can incorporate the technology into their presentations in a relevant way.
- Just like any product, ensure there is a strong pre-event communication and education program for the tool.
- Ensure the technology is being used to enhance and not replace human interaction. Anytime the tool is being used it needs to extract qualitative or quantitative data that can be used post event to act upon.
- Ensure that you adequately provide onsite infrastructure, technical support and helpdesks to get attendees up and running as well as problem solve any issues.
- Measure and review the success of the tool. Most of these programs provide certain data and analytics and there is always the opportunity to tailor these before the event.
We’re constantly assessing new technologies for events ranging from wearable technology, and 4D virtual reality to robots that do more than simply stamp your ticket. How quickly some of these become commonplace, only time will tell.