Event Technology

My Love-Hate Relationship with Event Technology

This article was originally featured in the MICE World Magazine Singapore, click on this link to access the original post. I am honored to stage a session at their upcoming MICE World Intel event in Singapore, 17 April 2015.

The brave new world of technology, wearables, and gadgets is fascinating, isn’t it? Do you also belong to the posse that needs to get their hands on every new gadget out in the market?

Does your mind tell you: “Bah, this new Apple Watch, I really don’t need it.” But somewhere deep inside, you’re really craving for it? Well, welcome to the club!

But hold on: As event organisers, we sometimes get carried away only too quickly when it comes to technology. We tend to lose touch with how most humans want to interact when meeting people: F2F and not FB2FB (face-to-face rather than Facebook-to-Facebook).

What speaks in favor of technology, and where are the limitations?

The US National Center for Biotechnology Information says the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. The good news is that should you market your events towards goldfish, their attention span is actually one second more. Lucky you!

What does that tell us, when most of us address humans rather than fish?

People get bored prrrreeeetty quickly. At events, you need to come up with a clever, engaging and interactive meeting design to keep your audience on board! Technology can play a major role in this.

Has your smartphone already become a part of your body? It’s pretty close to you, isn’t it? The average mobile phone user checks their phone 150 times per day, even when it’s not ringing or buzzing.

So, how can you afford to stage an event where mobile tech does not play a role, so that you benefit from those 150 additional touchpoints during a typical conference day?

I love event tech when it adds value to a meeting, in the sense that technology supports either networking, the learning experience or inspires and motivates your participants. The second screen people always carry with them is a fantastic vehicle to extend the event journey.

Technologies for audience interaction, polling, votes, and gamification are really cool, and they can deliver immediate feedback to what happens on stage. Provided, however, they are easy to use – remember the 8-second attention span?

Limitations of event tech

And that is exactly the point where the “hate” part of my relationship to event technology begins! More often than not, tech providers are asking way too much both of the delegates and the speakers at an event.

Heavy app downloads, mystic menues, core features well hidden – I guess you know what I am talking about.

It seems to me that while we are all getting more and more used to technology, we are less and less inclined to dive deep into user manuals and stuff such as this.

A good event has an arch from beginning to end, and takes the audience by the hand – not forcing them, but rather guiding them empathically through the experience.

The same should apply to event technology: Aspects such as user experience and ease-of-use are of paramount importance.

There are technologies such as Sli.do for audience feedback and polling, Zkipster for guest list management, Attendify for simple and affordable event apps and a couple more that have put the user experience in the focus.

Events such as TechFest and EventTechLive (both in London) are great knowledge hubs to put tools to the acid test and find the right solutions for you.

The human factor

Yet in the end, it all boils down to the human factor: Do you have speakers and moderators that know how to weave technology interaction into their sessions? Those who are tech-savvy, but also know how to put themselves at the same level as their audience and brief them on how to make the most of the technology?

Just one of the reasons why people would want to meet face-to-face.
Just one of the reasons why people would want to meet face-to-face.

More often than not the technical aspects are stressed more than the human factor, and that is a mistake in my book.

Event Experience Designers

I do like the term “Eventprofs” for our profession. (By the way, there is also a community around the hashtag #eventprofs on Twitter and Facebook, which I strongly recommend to every event person who likes to catch up with the latest event trends.)

I like it because it does not restrict what we do to “event organisation”. That is, of course important, but in order to maximise the impact of our meetings, we all have to become “Event Experience Designers”.

Event experience design covers all aspects of what we are doing, from A for advertising to Z in sparking the Zest for action after attending an event.

Event technology is never a means in itself. As long as it supports the core objectives of a meeting, it is very welcome, though!

By the way, “Event Experience Designer” isn’t a bad job title, don’t you think? Why don’t you approach your boss and ask for a new set of business cards?

2 thoughts on “My Love-Hate Relationship with Event Technology

  1. I totally agree! Although I love the new technology that major tradeshows and conferences are using, it can sometimes take away from the “human factor,” that makes events such an appealing marketing method. I do really like the idea of Live Polls during events where speakers can poll their audience and immediately give them first-hand results. Do you use live polls a lot?


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