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Whither Technology

August 14, 2013 | Posted in Technology, Trends | 2 Comments

The ever rapid advancement of innovative technology in meetings and events has had a significant impact on our industry. And, with the inevitable result of these products becoming more robust, easier to use and a lot less expensive, meetings of all shapes and sizes are utlizing the latest technology like never before.  But what are we doing with this technology and are we using it effectively?

It wasn't too many years ago that Production companies were charging 70 to 90 dollars per slide. PowerPoint quickly changed that, as clients now had the ability to create and/or change their presentations in seconds, all by themselves and for very little, if any, cost. Multimedia that once required a team of programmers and cost up to 6 figures can now be done on a laptop by a tech savvy teenager in a couple of days or a week or two.

The sharing of data, social media and free or very inexpensive apps and programs has all emerged to change the way we do meetings. But what are we doing with the technology? Are we making things easier, better, more insightful, worth the Investment? Well, that depends.

Let's first talk briefly about the old standby, PowerPoint. Since it's arrival, we have been inundated with presentations that contain bullet points, animation, music, screen fades and other visual effects. But this has also bred a generation of presenters who read to us what is on the screen, rarely if ever going off script and rarely engaging us in the process. (Indeed, at one recent conference, I watched as attendees tuned out, checked their emails and bought dresses from QVC online as the featured presenter droned on and on, reciting word for word what was on the screen.)

At it's best, PPT is great (BTW, I use PPT as the generic, like Kleenex or Xerox for the slide presentations. There are, of course, other programs out there.) When used to support the speaker, PPT is a wonderful tool. When used as a talking book, forget about it.

So, why am I talking about an old thing like slides when these days we have Near Field Communication, iPads and tablets, Wi-Fi, mobile event apps, gamification, traffic flow analytics, hybrid meetings and more? Because we must be careful that we are not creating solutions based on what is sexy and new…just because it is sexy and new. Rather than create a bunch of Meeting McMansions, we need to consider what we are going to do with the technology. We must know and adhere to the objectives of our meeting. Will technology enhance or detract? Will it simplify or confuse? Are we willing to make sure that our Mobile Meeting application contains all of the information we would have had in our printed Program? Agendas, Speakers with full bios, Venue information with maps, Exhibitor and Attendee names, email addresses, and a messaging component…I could go on here for quite a while. As we say about computing, Garbage In, Garbage Out. If the information and I mean all the information is not in the mobile app, (and if it's not spell checked…I could tell you stories) than you've got nothing to brag about.

It's all about the clear objectives and the process. Make sure you work with real experts when you're embarking on any use of technology. Apart from the reliability factor, you do get what you pay for when you hire highly experienced partners who can show you how to get the most out of your technology investment. There’s no substitute to having an expert demonstrate the real benefits of an interactive meeting, where ideas can be freely shared between audience and speakers and then acted upon in real time. This can be an amazingly effective way to get real alignment and affect change in an organization. Go beyond the surface. See what more these products have to offer and how they can have not only a positive impact but also help you achieve your objectives.

The addition of Meeting Technology can and should be a positive thing for your organization. Just make sure you are being strategic, that whatever technology you use is focused on the business objectives of the meeting, that information is complete, spellchecked and that you have backups, bandwidth and buy in from your stakeholders.

Technology can get you where you need to go, faster and more efficiently than ever. And, properly utilized, it can be the best way to achieve those all important objectives that are the true ROI of any meeting or event.

To find out more about how your meeting and event can utilize technology to it’s fullest, contact one of our Technology Experts at www.bramsonproductions.com

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