Beyond the PowerPoint – how Technology is enhancing engagement at conferences
When it comes to technology in conferences, many people think that a PowerPoint presentation is all that’s required. However, with the UK’s digital sector advancing and delegates expectations ever increasing, it’s important that conference organisers know that technology now goes far beyond the PowerPoint.
Within conferencing specifically, interaction with audiences is becoming more of a consideration and clients are now asking for ideas to encourage this more frequently, especially through technology . Conferences now need to engage delegates in innovative ways that relate to the systems they use to facilitate business. Digital devices such as mobile phones, social media platforms and the internet are vital to delegates and their job roles, and these can now be brought into their conferencing experience.
Here at ConferenceLeeds, we know that Leeds is one of the most exciting digital hubs in the UK, and as a popular conference destination, it is continually pushing the boundaries when it comes to innovation in events. We aspire to help facilitate clients in bringing new innovation to their Leeds based events, by bringing venues and partners together.
One such partner is iCO Event Services, one of Yorkshire’s leading providers of audio visual solutions and event production, that aims to deliver events in new and exciting formats. Chris Ayre, Managing Director at iCO, tells us some of the tactics that can be used to make conferences more engaging:
“You can encourage delegates to get involved in conference discussions easily through utilising social media platforms such as Twitter. It is a great way of promoting the conference at the exact time that the event is happening, as well as encourage related topics to trend through hashtags. It also allows those who may not want to contribute verbally, to still input into conversation, plus this is an excellent way for associations to build up their own social following whilst also generating conversation. To successfully implement this, we would recommend populating Twitter with hashtag content a few weeks before the conference, so there is plenty of time for delegates to discuss and fill the wall ahead of the event. This could be done through targeted e-shots with key topics and questions in the weeks building up to the conference, or even by including a question to respond to in welcome packs before the event starts.
For those who don’t want to publicly discuss a topic on Twitter for privacy or confidentiality reasons, live polling is a brilliant option. This involves giving each delegate a keypad, providing the opportunity for real-time opinion gathering. A question is asked in a presentation with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, or multiple choice answers, and delegates can vote on their keypads, gathering results in seconds on screen. This can be done with 1,000s of people, so it is ideal for any size of conference. Facilitated through Bluetooth, the system avoids the issues that can come about with using, and potentially overloading, a venue’s wifi, also simplifying the set up process. By using this kind of tool, not only is delegate engagement increased, but it offers the association the opportunity to gather valuable feedback and information.
A product that is sure to liven up any conference discussion is a throwable microphone. This is a microphone made of soft material and is lightweight so can be tossed from one delegate to the next with no danger of injury. This new technology avoids someone having to work his or her way through a crowd with a traditional microphone, which can disjoint a discussion. It also gives a conference an element of fun and uniqueness.”
Jennifer Young, Head of ConferenceLeeds added: “Delegates are used to having fast access to technology at all times in their working lives, and a conference doesn’t have to be any different. By tapping into tools that are familiar, using technology to increase engagement can be a less daunting way to gather feedback or encourage discussion and learning at an event.
In the future, as we see other platforms beginning to grow in popularity, such as Instagram, which offers a more visual alternative. Facebook Live is also becoming increasingly considered. There are only more exciting things to come and we look forward to seeing how conferences become even more innovative, and delegate inclusive, over the coming years.”