Fear grips us all. Whether it is rational or irrational, most of us are afraid of something. Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, and even technophobia – no points for guessing what that’s a fear of.
Yet just as the solution to overcoming many of the more common fears is to challenge yourself to take it head on, becoming comfortable with new technology is first about coming to terms with it, and then embracing it with gusto.
And whilst claustrophobes can avoid lifts and arachnophobes can avoid holidays to Australia, technophobes really can’t hold back the tide much longer. Technology is an ever increasing part of our daily lives, because for a large part it has a hugely positive role whenever it’s applied.
Technology at member events
And so this brings us to events. Events are crucial for membership organisations as they are a chance to bring together a community to learn and exchange ideas. Technology has enabled organisations to connect disparate individuals across the web, but still nothing beats getting them together to form friendships and chew the fat.
Live events have always contained a bit of technology to help facilitate the sharing of content and ideas. From the overhead projector evolved PowerPoint, which created the need for audio-visual set-ups, and podium, lapel and roving mics to improve the experience for larger audiences. Because these are being used in a live environment, things do sometimes go wrong: from microphone feedback to a projector bulb blowing up. The reality is that audiences don’t really care about these minor bumps in the road if the content is great, the speakers are compelling and they walk away having learnt a lot and made some useful contacts.
Taking it a step further
Now looking to the way technology is changing events. Registration has been made much easier with the emergence of low-cost platforms for attendees to add their details and receive tickets – often electronically. These are really easy to set up, and significantly reduce the time-cost burden of juggling spreadsheets and email invites.
And now, when your delegates are at the event, technology is being applied to help improve that experience. Large events are using ‘event apps’ to give speaker details, agendas, maps etc. However, for smaller events or focused audiences a lot of this content is superfluous – it should be available on the event website anyway. As a result, people have little incentive to use the app, particularly if they have to download it (‘app fatigue’ is a very real thing these days – we’re now spending twice as much time on our phones as three years ago, but have the same number of apps…)
Instead, many events, including those organisations just running small meetings with a few presentations across an afternoon, are turning to audience response systems. These are lighter, simpler products that engage audiences and have some really useful functionality, but generally don’t require anything to be downloaded.
What can audience response offer?
Audience response is a great way of making your events more interactive. Audience participation has been proven to aid learning – we involve children when they are being taught in schools, so why not teach adults in the same way? Audience participation utilises all the brains in the room, rather than just a handful of presenters – a much better use of time when you’ve made the effort to get them all together.
Audience engagement might take the form of live Q&A with questions asked, and voted up, via mobile devices or tablets. Or perhaps a series of polls to gauge the mood or opinion of the room, or to create quizzes. Finally audience response can be used to gather feedback, ratings, opinions and ideas to evaluate the success of the event or presentation content, or help plan for the next one. Effectively, you can collect your feedback live in the room – rather than chase people to complete an online survey a few days later when they might already be busy with the day job.
Systems like Glisser can actually integrate with PowerPoint slides, so you don’t need any more hardware to power the interaction than the laptop your presenters are using. Plus, by sharing the slide live you can avoid those pesky calls for weeks after the event from everyone looking to get their hands on the slides – they’ll already have them ready and waiting in their inbox, along with any notes they made.
Glisser is a fantastic off the-shelf product, which enables event managers to create live polling, questions and delegate comment options. The audience can also interact through the use of social media (Twitter), ensuring that your event is trending within the right cyberspace circles. The great thing about this app, is you can buy it the day before and be using it at your event within 24 hours! Not only that, but it is a highly cost-effective option. I will definitely be using Glisser again.” Event and Sponsor Manager,Institute of Travel & Meeting.
“I thought the solution was brilliant. The live Q&A really opened up the debate, particularly to those audience members who wouldn’t be comfortable asking questions to a busy room, and gave our keynote presenters and startups the opportunity to talk about the things our guests really wanted to hear. I am already recommending Glisser to colleagues within Visa Europe and within my event circles – it’s exactly the sort of solution that can deliver results across all sorts of meetings and conferences” Events Manager,Visa
Embrace the fear – and conquer it!
So whilst many of us may fear new technology, it’s getting easier and easier to try out in a relatively small way. It’s not a huge and risky investment, but something you can try out to get comfortable with. You might not need a bespoke event app with all sorts of bells and whistles (most of which won’t get used) but you can create an element of participation and capture a lot of data using platforms like Glisser. With small test uses you can build confidence and get a good understanding of how to apply technology to your events to drive real benefit – engaged audiences and loads of feedback.
Glisser makes presentations interactive. It takes regular slides and pushes them live to audience smartphones, slide-by-slide, as they’re presented. It enables audiences to interact with the presenter and each other, through polls, live Q&A and Twitter. This improves engagement, aids learning, and generates useful feedback and data for event organisers. Glisser is a MemberWise Recognised Provider.