Unfortunately, many meeting planners — aside from those who specialize in the tech industry — shy away from technology. They may be familiar with some of the new technologies available, but they don’t utilize them consistently and end up missing out on important opportunities. For the coatings world, where you may want to create a conference or present at a trade show or meeting, knowing the technology can be crucial.
If you don’t embrace and use technology in every event you plan, your attendees will notice and will find ways to use the technology without you.
Technologies to Consider
As you plan your next event, consider some other
technologies. Some are best when used before the event to help you prepare so
everything comes together smoothly, and others are designed to be used during
the event. Even if you’re just giving a presentation to a client, some of these
tips may be useful. And if you’re an attendee, check out Robyn Davis’s “Seven
Dos and Don’ts for Trade Show Attendees” from the January 2014 issue here.
with your speakers in a Google Hangout. Communication with the
speaker(s) about the event’s goals is critical. Good speakers will tailor their
message to meet your needs. But rather than just communicate with
your speakers via phone and email, interact with them before the event (and
even have them interact with each other) to ensure everyone understands the
meeting’s goals. With a tool like Google Hangout, you can have up to 10 people
on a video conference. Use this to build rapport between the speakers and the
entire event team so your conference or meeting projects a truly unified and cohesive
image to the attendees.
- Use social media to promote the
event. Tweet about the upcoming meeting on Twitter and add
status updates about it to Facebook and LinkedIn. Additionally, ask your
speakers to provide a pre-event video where they talk to the attendees about
the upcoming event and what to expect from their session or keynote. Post these
videos all over your social media to generate publicity and encourage more
people to register.
- Make your event materials mobile
friendly. Stop handing out printed event materials! Instead,
make your program and handouts available online as a PDF download. This enables
attendees to have all the materials available on their tablet or smart phone,
and they don’t have to worry about losing pieces of paper. Also, create a
mobile app for your event that includes access to all the meeting’s handouts.
It’s easier and less expensive than you think!
- DURING EVENT TECHNOLOGIES:
- Internet access is a must! Many
hotels offer free internet access in the lobby or in the guest rooms, but they
don’t offer it for free in the conference areas. As a result, many meeting
planners decide not to offer internet access, believing it’s not necessary. Big
mistake! If your attendees can’t post a tweet or even check their email,
they’ll leave the conference area to do so…and they may not return. If the
hotel is going to charge you for internet access, find a sponsor to pay for it.
Remember: A great event starts with attendees being able to have access to
their lives via email, web, and social media.
- Video Conferencing/Webcasting can
expand your reach. Sometimes people want to attend your event
but they can’t for various reasons. Rather than lose their registration, why
not have them attend the meeting virtually? They’d still pay a registration
fee, but they’d attend via a service such as Telenect,
You could also use these technologies to forgo the physical meeting and conduct
the entire event virtually.
- Garner audience participation by
implementing an audience response system (ARS). Keeping the audience awake
during presentations is one thing, but getting the audience to participate is a
whole different ball game. Encourage your
speakers to go beyond using the old “raise your hand” or “talk to the person
sitting next to you” participation techniques. Instead, have them create a
conversation with attendees by using some sort of ARS. The best known ARS is
the voting keypad, such as what’s available with Turning Technologies. There are also some emerging new apps such as JoinSpeaker that don’t require a special device. Rather, the attendees use
their smart phone or tablet to interact. Turning passive audience members into active participants
is key, since it creates value for the attendees and for the conference. Simply
put: It increases the return on investment (ROI).
- Encourage attendees to use social
media during the meetings. Create several hashtags for social
media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram. The hashtags can be general ones that
apply to the industry or organization, as well as individual ones that are
specific to each presentation, breakout session, or keynote. A hashtag is
simply the hash (#) symbol followed by a word or acronym used to group (and
search) related tweets. Make these hashtags known and encourage attendees to
use social media for their note taking (utilizing the hashtags as they post). Twitter
is especially useful, since it only allows 140 characters per tweet. People will need to concisely
summarize the content, which is actually a benefit. According to researchers,
summarization helps boost retention. Even people who don’t use Twitter can post tweets and
follow the conversation using a tool such as Twubs, which also enables you to moderate the posts and do live
- Keep smart phones on to promote
texting. Rather than ask attendees to power off their smart
phone, encourage them to leave it on and text the presenter as he or she is
speaking. This will dramatically increase audience participation. For example,
leadership expert Cheryl Cran asks her audiences to text her messages while she
delivers her content. Audience members then text her questions and she answers
them throughout her keynote and training events. This approach takes away the
fear attendees may have of publicly asking a question.
Up Your Meetings
To create a successful
event — one that encourages conversations and interactions between event
organizers, speakers, and attendees — you must use technology. Whatever technology you
choose to implement, take the time to prepare by knowing your audience and your
expected event outcomes. Then, choose the technology that will help you reach
Remember, the ultimate goal
of each meeting is to influence your participants. Therefore, don’t use
technology simply because it’s exciting or cool. Use it wisely, based on your
objectives, and make sure it’s part of your long-term strategy. When used correctly, technology will enhance your event, making
both you and your organization successful.
About the Authors
Heaps and Dave Reed own eSpeakers.com, a 14-year-old technology and marketing
company providing the speaking industry with the tools to do business online.
For more information, contact: Joe Heaps, firstname.lastname@example.org, (888) 377-3214,