Monday, February 1, 2016

Digital Disruption is Alive and Well at Events

Our BCIC Robot Sheldon
tours the show floor at the
#BCTECH Summit
Digital Disruption has already happened. Our meetings and events will never be the same again. Digital disruption has seen the majority of the global population having a device or two in hand most of the time. At its simplest iteration we now have nearly ubiquitous mobile event apps and an ability for everyone at your event to socially share what they are experiencing across multiple platforms, at their discretion and not yours!

During the planning process our clients are googling their way in - requiring videos of all the acts we recommend, often rejecting these based on quality of video vs. our quality of known experience; sending us their Pinterest boards, Instagram shares, TED Talks and links to speakers they like or gorgeous event environments found on-line which may or may not be realistic for their budget, location, type of event and theme or environment being created. Don't get me wrong - these shares can provide valuable insight into what will please your client and (potentially) their stakeholders but it does require more management at times as you edit or adapt based on what is shared.

We have seen social revolutions started on-line, which begs the question - how do you use the tools available to connect and strengthen your own communities? We have the opportunity to use a myriad of tools to build communities online including LinkedIn forums, Facebook events and groups, virtual chat rooms and lounges attached to hybrid software (MediaSite, Inxpo, Kubi and more), internal forums and discussion boards on your association website as simple examples. These allow us to connect to our own meeting and event communities, our associations, and even festivals where 100,000+ are having a "shared" experience. This new digital age can be your best marketing tool at the same time it can be your biggest challenge as your audience become your storytellers - you have to set the "stage" and the "performance" - comfortable environment, thoughtful and thought-provoking speakers, food, beverage and entertainment that makes sense for the showcase to wow those there live and sharing virtually. 

With technology omnipresent in our lives and at our events, we need to be aware of how mobile technology can benefit our experience.  When we set a room we consider how the space design will influence behaviours and enhance learning, and now we need to extend technology from the main stage AV into the audience. As a short list, we can add in
  • flipped learning (watching a video prior to the session for knowledge-based discussion)
  • watching a second screen in-hand with an ability to take notes, ask questions and share
  • avoid the in-room mic runners and the inevitable, awkward wait with the ability to ask questions directly from a device with a plethora of text-based, moderated tools or 
  • CrowdMics where every phone has the potential to be a microphone
  • taking notes and images and sharing these with at-home or remote teams in real-time
  • post ideas and photos direct from devices to a virtual audience 
We no longer live a life outside technology, our connection to the outside world is with us at all times and in the hands of our participants as well. As meeting professionals we need to stay focused on lifelong learning and adapting to the curve balls the world will continue to lob our way. This digital integration of f2f and virtual participation can indeed change the world, one meeting or event at a time.

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