Why tech needs to be integrated into your conference agenda
In the 1980s, active audience engagement wasn’t top of the agenda for most conference organisers. As long as lunch was served and the key messages were delivered, companies could pat themselves on the back for a job well done- even if delegates fell asleep mid-afternoon. Fast forward 30 years and that the days of passively sitting through lectures are long behind us, with technology and interaction playing a huge role in our day-to-day lives. To keep up in this fast-paced, modern world, it’s imperative that company owners find a way to incorporate technology and social media successfully into their events. But with so many online distractions available, how can we utilise our technology addiction for the benefit of conference audiences?
While some conference organisers still ask delegates to switch their phones off for fear of disruption, many others are encouraging people to download conference apps and other engagement tools, or even providing specialist tablets. According to a recent article in Forbes, traditional modes of learning have ‘hit their use-by date’ and technology must be embraced for successful educational opportunities.
Rather than listening to a series of long speeches, conference delegates will benefit from interactive meeting tools, that allow them to ask questions and comment on the material being shared in real-time. Some speakers also use polling tools, to get audience opinions on the topics being discussed. Encouraging delegates to get actively involved with the content through technology increases learning retention rates, meaning delegates are more likely to come away remembering new company developments- rather than what they had for lunch.
Back in our school days, we learnt through textbooks and repetitive revision. But research now shows that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, providing even more evidence to suggest we need to rethink our learning techniques.
Luckily technology allows us to embrace imagery more than ever before, with multimedia tools such as live Instagram feeds, virtual reality and video mapping, where different objects are used for video projection. Offering new and innovative ways to view content at a conference is far more than a fun gimmick or showstopper. If used in the right way, it can boost learning and retention, helping your employees to better engage with the material and the key messages of the events. Videos and imagery can also be shared easily online, meaning that conference directors can expand their reach to employees in other offices or countries.
A study by the University of Colorado found that participants who took part in gamified e-learning experiences scored 14% higher in skills-based knowledge tests and had a 9% higher retention rate than those who hadn’t. Effective for people of all ages, gamification helps to bring content to life, better engaging delegates and helping them to learn. With the days of the bog-standard, talk-heavy AGM now firmly behind us, it’s time companies started investigating in-game options, especially for break-out sessions and conferences with an exhibition or product launch element. You can also add a competitive element by encouraging delegates to find out as much as they can about a certain product or company development by the end of the day. Treasure hunt games also work well as a conference add-on, for those who want to complement their event with a team building activity.
Pre- and post-conference
Technology has given us the opportunity to drive our events above and beyond a one-day conference, with apps and engagement tools to generate excitement before anyone has even stepped foot in the venue. As well as using tech to ensure you have all the basic admin covered, conference organisers can also deliver pre-event activities and teasers through interactive meetings tools, as well as icebreakers for delegates who have never met before. Some event planners like to open chat rooms or encourage employees to share Twitter details beforehand, to give people the opportunity to meet online. Technology can also facilitate post-event activities and round-ups, giving delegates the chance to relive their experiences and revisit the content from the day. Helping to drive home company messages, it also means that delegates can store presentations and educational materials for another time.
From the very start of the conference journey to the very end, engagement and continual interaction has never been more important. Helping to bond teams, generate feedback and keep everyone involved, using technology in the right way will help your brand to deliver the best events and ROI that it possibly can.