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Article Collection from

I n te ra c ti v e Me e ti n g Te c h n o l o g y

Samuel J. Smith
Event Technology Consultant
Twitter: @samueljsmith

Inte ractive Me e ting Te chno:

lo g y
Table of Contents

1. Worlds Are Colliding to Create New Opportunities for!Events..................................3

Social Media & Events

2. 10 Ways Social Media Will Transform Events........................................................9
3. How to Increase Social Media (and Technology) Adoption at!Events........................13
4. 43 Social Media Tips, Tricks, Big Ideas & Real World Examples for Meetings &!Events...15
5. How To Save Attendees from Networking Hell...................................................18
6. How to Make Your Event’s Social Network Easy to!Join........................................21
7. Why User-Generated Content is Good for Meetings &!Events.....................24

Designing Interactions with Technology

8. Do You Allocate Enough Time For!Interaction?....................................................26
9. How to Set the Interaction!Dial......................................................................28
10. Are Your Events Haunted by the Blackberry!Prayer?............................................30

Virtual Events
11. Which Event Technology Has The Best ROI?.......................................................33
12. 18 Ways to Make your Webcasts Rock..............................................................35

About Samuel J. Smith......................................................................................40

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Worlds Are Colliding to Create New Opportunities
In December 2009, my colleague Ruud Janssen and I delivered a presentation
called the 2010 Event Technology Shopping List at EIBTM. Here are links to the
slides and video. This article outlines some of the thinking that was at the heart of
our work.

Worlds Are Colliding

The digital world and the face to face worlds are colliding and I see several new
opportunities emerging for events. Yesterday, we tackled these four new
opportunities that have emerged for events to use event technology to transform
the event:

• Extending the Meeting

• Including More People

• Improved Interaction

• New Formats

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Extending the Meeting
We have the opportunity to stretch event experiences from 1-2 days to several
days, weeks and months. Rather than looking at the meeting as an isolated event
– we can look at it as one point in a conversation stream. By using your digital
touch points wisely, you can start relationships earlier and change the nature of
the face-to-face interactions onsite. Webinars, webcasts, social networks and
social media tools are some of the technologies making this possible.

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Including More People
The people that come to your event are a subset of your event community. For
one reason or another, there are some people that cannot come to your event. It
has nothing to do with you, your program, the venue, the destination or the price
– they just can’t come. Rather than ignore these “potential” attendees – the
technology tools like the backchannel and live streaming help you include them in
your event experience.

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Increasing Interaction
Attendees are smarter than they have ever been. The gap between the experts on
stage and the attendees in the audience has never been smaller. The collaboration
tools that we have at our disposal have made it easier than ever to create this
interaction. Equally important – there are a large number of audience response
keypads, gadgets, handheld devices and mobile applications that put the power in
the attendee’s hand and make it easier for you to engage them: Ask questions,
collect ideas, vote, etc.

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Alternative Formats
We still live in a world where good projects (meetings, marketing plans, etc.) are
being cut in favor of better projects. Telepresence and Virtual Events are two
event formats that have emerged as viable lost cost alternatives (or compliments)
to full face-to-face events. While some face-to-face diehards may initially raise
their noses at these two formats – I suggest that you take a closer look. I would
prefer that you keep some options in your back pocket and fight for your projects
– rather than accept defeat when the finance department and management want
to cut your event.

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Bottom Line
The collision between the digital world and the face-to-face world creates several
new opportunities for events.!By framing the discussion in terms of these new
opportunities – you can strategically approach technology rather than look at it

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10 Ways Social Media Will Transform Events

Social media is changing the way that we communicate,

collaborate and share.!

It used to be that you watched the news and that was it.
Today, ! allows you to watch the news, read the
news, comment on the news and create the news. More
than 400,000 “citizen” journalists are uploading videos called iReports to CNN’s
website. Many of these are included in news stories.

It used to be that you requested duplicate copies of vacation photos for family
and friends. Today, you take digital pictures and upload them to Facebook or
Flickr. Your family and friends comment on those photos online. Then you create
a photo-book for your grandma that is automatically printed and shipped directly
to her.

Those are two small examples of the transformation that is taking place in the
way that we communicate, collaborate and share. !There are many others.!

As attendees become more comfortable with these new two-way communication

experiences, they are going to start demanding similar experiences from their
face-to-face events. !

Here are 10 ways that I think social media will transform events in the future:

1. Attendees will not wait for microphones to ask questions. They

will text or tweet those questions as they think of them.!
Attendees will not wait until the end of a session to ask questions that
came up in the first five minutes of the presentation. This does not
mean that the speaker has to stop his presentation to answer the
questions. Rather, there should be a mechanism to send questions to
the speaker in real time.!

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2. Attendees will answer questions for the speaker - while she is
talking. If the questions for the speaker are streamed through the
backchannel, these questions will be available to all attendees. E-
learning research tells us that it is every likely that attendees will start
answering each other’s questions, while the speaker (instructor) is
still talking.!

3. Attendees will tell you that the speaker stinks, the ice sculpture is
melting and the croissants are stale - in real time. With Social
Media, the feedback can be instant and shared with everyone. You
should be prepared to adapt your onsite operations to this new

4. Attendees will expect to connect with other delegates before,

during and after the event. Time is precious. Rather than nametag
surf through the crowd, attendees will setup meetings with like-
minded delegates before the event. After the event they will want to
keep the conversation going. ! It will be important that events help
them stay connected and translate their face-to-face contacts back
into the digital world.!

5. Virtual attendees will start using social media to engage with

your content and the onsite face-to-face attendees. Social Media
and other digital technologies will help virtual attendees join the
onsite discussion. They will do this from 3,000 miles away. It will be
important to make the experience inclusive and collaborative for all

6. Attendees will want a voice in the discussion, learning and

decision making process. The gap between the experts that are
speaking on stage and the amateurs in the audience has never been
smaller. Attendees are well educated, informed and have information
at their fingertips. As this gap continues to shrink, attendees will
expect to be part of the discussion, learning and decision making
processes. No more speakers talking and attendees listening!
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7. New events will emerge from online communities . It is easier than
ever to create an online group, build an audience and start
discussions. However, there is still a strong desire for members to
meet face-to-face. In 2009, we saw many new events created around
Twitter. In the coming years, we will see many more events emerge
out of online communities. Equally important, events that do not
embrace online communities will be hurt and maybe even close.

8. Attendees will register for your event if their contacts are

attending. In the future, knowing if friends or business associates are
attending an event will become part of the attendee’s decision
process. Social media tools that check to see if my Linkedin
connections, Twitter followers or Facebook friends are attending an
event already exist. Over time, I think that we will see more of these
tools implemented in events.

9. Events will become communities that last for weeks and months
rather than a few short days.!Event specific social networks, create a
social hub where we can start conversations before events and
continue them long after the event finished. !Creating a social space
where attendees can network and discuss trends, hot topics, industry
(or business) challenges and best practices will be extend the life of
your event.!

10. Sharable content will be the way that your event is discovered by
new attendees. Your webcasts, webinars, blog posts and whitepapers
will need to be interesting, relevant and easy to share. Then, your
participants and raving fans will start forwarding, tweeting and
facebooking this content to their like minded friends. This will
introduce new people to your event and the type of education and
thought leadership that you provide. Also, this will make it easier to
search and find your event.

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Bottom Line
Social Media is changing the way that we share, communicate and
collaborate. As attendees become more comfortable with these
experiences, they will demand them from their face-to-face events. Event
professionals need to be prepared for this transformation. It is coming,

(note: This article is an excerpt from the FREE ebook!Social Media in Events:
2010. The ebook was a collaboration of several Social Media in Events
thought leaders)

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How to Increase Social Media (and Technology)
Adoption at!Events
In my opinion, some event organizers are
throwing technology at their events in the
same way that the zookeeper throws a big
chunk of raw meat to the lions. They lob it
out there on the floor, stand back and see
what happens.

While the lion might jump on that piece of meat without batting an eye, most
attendees are not jumping on social media and event technology without a little

So, how do you get more attendees to start using these interactive and social
technologies? I will start the discussion with some suggestions based on my
experience. I hope that you will add your ideas in the comments below.

1. Show Attendees the WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

Most events are packed with activities. If you are going to ask attendees to use (or
try) a new technology tool, be sure that they (A) know about it and (B) understand
how they will benefit from it. Otherwise, with so much going on, they may
overlook the new tool.

2. Show Attendees How To Use the Tech Tools.

Attendees start from di"erent points on the technology learning curve. Some will
arrive as power-tweeters, while others will still be struggling with email. Also,
they have di"erent learning styles. If you want attendees to use the tools, you
need to provide various forms of support. Here are some things that we did at
Spotme to help attendees feel comfortable with the new technology:

> Each attendee received a small instruction card that included some of the “how
to” basics at registration.

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> Provide a short 5 minute “how to” presentation at the beginning of the event.
(Many times this included the WIIFM).

> Provide personalized demonstrations of the tools (for those that want it).

> Provide a help desk where attendees can get personalized demonstrations and
answers to individual questions. (If you want to be “2010# – call it a genius bar.)

> Provide Just-in-Time instructions as required. This was very e"ective for voting,
speaker Q&A or other tools that were not used in every session.

3. Keep the Tech Tools Simple.

Since events are so short, you only have a few minutes to teach attendees how to
use your tech tools and help them become proficient at it. The easier it is for
attendees to learn how to use the tools on site – the more they will use it. !When
considering di"erent options – look for simple, easy to use interfaces.

4. Consider How Attendees will Participate.

Not all attendees will use the technology equally – even after they know how to
use the tools. That’s ok. We don’t all like to do the same things. You can increase
your chances of success by learning about your attendee’s social media
engagement preferences. Do they like to create content, critique it, etc? The
Groundswell’s social technographs profile tool can help you.

Bottom Line
Unlike the lion with a piece of meat,!chances are good that most of your attendees
will need a little help learning to use the new technology at your events. !Don’t let
this discourage you – there are some simple steps that you can take to help them
learn to use the tools and have a great event experience.

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43 Social Media Tips, Tricks, Big Ideas & Real
World Examples for Meetings &!Events
When it comes to Social Media – all of us are learning.!Some of us faster than
others. ! You should be able to benefit from the successes, failures and
experiments of other event professionals.

Think of this list as a “social media launching pad” to get your event’s social
media program o" the ground in a hurry. If you use all of the resources here –
then you will find yourself inside a collaborative community of event professionals
that are leading the events industry into the world of social media.

The list is loosely organized by category. Though, some articles could belong to
several categories

Resources & Communities of Practice

1. !Free Social Media in Events ebook.!Three excerpts from this ebook. that you
might find interesting:

• Events and Social Media 2010 — Changes Comin’ On

• The Four Cs Of Conferences & Social Media

• 10 Ways Social Media Will Transform Events

2. !EventProfs Twitter Group: Self-organized community of Event Professionals

3. !Engage365 (Social Media for Events Community)

4. !Time to Shake Events Up

5. !Three Perspectives for Developing a Social Media Strategy for Events

Planning Your Event

6.!Social Media For Events: 101 (Link to 10 Social Media in Events Articles)

7. !Mashable’s Guide to Using Social Media in Events

8. !Meeting and Event Planning with Social Media

9. !Why Event Managers Should be Using Social Media

Promoting Your Event

10. Using Social Media To Promote Events

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11. 8 ways to use MySpace for Events

12. 13 Ways Linked Supports Event Marketing

13. 5 Powerful ideas for using Facebook for Your Events

14. Social Media Amplifies Event Marketing

15. Why You Need Bloggers and Tweeters at Your Next Event

16. ! Three Reasons to have your Presenters Create Videos to Promote Their

17. Why User-Generated Content is Good for Meetings &!Events

Social Media Marketing Guide by Anne Thornley-Brown

18. Social Media Marketing Strategies for Event Planners – Part 1

19. Social Media Marketing for Event Planners – Part 2: RSS Feeds & More About

20. Social Media Marketing Tools for Event Planners – Part 3: Twitter & Facebook

Social Networking & Community Building

21. Pre-Event Community Building (Excellent Resource)

22. Using Twitter to Build a Community Around Your Event

23.!14 Online eCommunity Options For Your Next Annual Meeting

24.!How To Make Your Event’s Social Network Easy to Join

25.!How To Increase Social Media (and technology) Adoption

Backchannel and Twitter

26.!10 Reasons Why Your Conference Should Use a Backchannel

27.!Bringing Twitter’s Backchannel to the Frontchannel

28.!Tips for Using Twitter During Presentations

29. Tweeting At Conferences And Events: The Good, The Better, The Best

30. 5 Ways to Visualize Twitter at Events

31.!8 Tips for Monitoring the Backchannel during your presentation

Other Useful Resources

32. Using Social Media for Meetings and Events

33. Role of Social Media in Future Events?

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34. Does Social Media Feel Like an Awkward Embrace

35. Using Social Media To Listen To Your Conference Attendees

36. Social Media in Events Survey

37.!Social Media Revenue Streams for Trade Shows and Conferences

38.!Technology Plans for 3 Leading Organizations

39.!Benchmarking Event-Driven Non-Profit Social Media Campaigns

40. See how welders use Twitter at Tradeshows

41. User Generated Content & Conferences: Shoot the Reaction

42. 6 Must Read Posts about the ROI of Social Media

43. Best Use of Twitter at Conferences: Change the Context

I am not omniscient and I didn’t stay the night in a Holiday Inn Express. !So, I
probably missed some useful resources – like like your killer blog post or
awesome online magazine article. Please accept my apology and use the
comments section to add it to the list.

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How to Save Attendees from Networking!Hell
Imagine this: you walk into a room with 1,000 people but find yourself alone –
drowning in a sea of people. Some people you know – but that lady who just
walked past – who was she? Could she be a “future” customer? But before you can
ask – “poof” she is gone. Unsure of what to do next – you circle the room, get in
line for a drink and set your sights on the nearest empty table.

This scenario is common for many first-time, shy and timid attendees. It can be a
networking hell.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You, the event organizer, can throw attendees a life
preserver and save them. Here are some things that you can do to help.

Understand Attendees Networking Objectives

The post 20 Reasons Delegates Attend Conferences uncovered several “specific”
attendee networking objectives. In many cases, I think these objectives are
unstated by most people – but they are there. By recognizing these objectives and

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creating activities to support them – you can help your attendees do a better job
of networking.

Here are some examples of di"erent networking objectives:

• Meet Like Minded People

• Discuss Topics of Interest

• Connect with Old Friends

• Meet New People

• Discuss Best Practices

• Find New Business Partners

Notice the verbs – meet, discuss, connect and find. !Are you helping attendees do
these things at your events – or is it largely their responsibility?

Five Questions Attendees Need Help Answering

When I worked at Spotme, we helped thousands and thousands of attendees
network better than ever before. The secret to this success was in Spotme’s ability
to help attendees answer the following questions:

1. Who else is here?

2. What do they look like?

3. What do I have in common with other participants?

4. How do I find or connect with them?

5. How can we stay connected after this event?

Imagine how much easier it would be for you to network at events if you had tools
that answered those questions? Imagine how much your attendees would love you
if you provided similar tools?

The good news is that there are several ways to do this. You could print a photo
guide, provide an electronic delegate list, use an event specific social networking
site (like Crowdvine, Pathable, Social Collective, Eventvue or Zerista), create a
networking wall, use an onsite mobile networking tool, etc.

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Bottom Line
There are several ways that you can help first-time, shy or timid attendees have
an awesome networking experience. First – consider their objectives. Second – put
together activities that correspond to those objectives. Finally, provide tools that
help attendees answer important questions about the others at the event.

You have the ability to throw your attendees a life preserver and save them from
networking hell. Will you do it?

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How to Make Your Event’s Social Network Easy to!Join
For some attendees, the registration process for your event social network is the
equivalent of climbing a steep rock face. It appears impossible.

You ask them to go to some website that they have never heard of – register for a
username and password, enter some personal information, wait for an email
verification, click a link to validate the email address, fill out a profile, upload a
picture (after they find a descent one), etc.

For some people this is a hassle that they don’t want. And while YOU argue that
the benefits of joining are worth it – they argue that it is too hard, has too many
steps and takes too much time.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be this hard.

Here are some simple ways for you to make it easy for attendees to join your
event social network.

1. Integrate with Your Registration System

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By integrating your event social network with your registration system, joining
your social network becomes one small step in the process of registering for the
event. You catch attendees while they are thinking about the event. Plus, you can
automatically load some of the data into their profiles for them.

“We saw our adoption numbers leap when we integrated with the registration
systems. Completions of the final registration page, which asks people to join the
community, jumped, catching people in the work flow and addressing their needs
when they were already thinking about them.” - Jordan Schwartz, Pathable

2. Use Facebook Connect or Twitter for Login

All of us have too many login ids and passwords to remember. The one for your
event social network is just another problem for your participant.

One thing that you can do is choose an event social networking platform that
allows your participants to login with their Facebook, TwitterID or OpenID. This
secure login allows people to connect to your event social network without
needing to remember another login ID and password.

“We allow login via Facebook, Twitter, and OpenID. That way attendees!don’t need
to create and remember another password.” – Tony Stubblebine, Crowdvine

3. Populate Profile Information From Other Social Sites

The more information that is included in a participant profile, the better it is for
networking. However, it can be a nuisance to have to retype all of that information
and upload pictures, etc.

You can save your attendees time and energy by allowing them to connect to their
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Flickr and blog accounts and automatically populate
information into their profile. While you are at it – why not setup your social
network to pull profile pictures from one of these sites?

“We actually automatically pull in pictures from LinkedIn, Facebook, & Twitter for
you to select and use as your profile picture.” – Rob Johnson, Eventvue

4. Automatically Reconnect Friends, Contacts and Peeps

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Another nuisance for attendees is going through the participant list to make
connections with their existing friends or contacts that are also attending your

To save them time, you can setup your event social network to do “third party
address import” (there has to be a sexier name than this) and automatically
reconnect all of their friends. ! Essentially it means can attendees find which of
their Linked-in, Facebook, MSN, Google and Yahoo contacts are attending this
event. Sometimes, the process is simpler than others.

“The user can click one button and pull in their friends from facebook and Twitter
who are also attending the event they are attending. ! Why rebuild your
connections when you can carry them over?” – Clinton Bonner, The Social

5. Hook my Flickr up to my Twitter and Facebook it!

Some of your participants are going to have accounts on Facebook, Linkedin,
Twitter, YouTube, and many, many other social websites. They may want to
integrate their social presence from these other sites into your event social

To help them, setup your event social network to include their Blog posts, Flickr
photos, tweets from twitter, status updates, etc. from these other sites.

Bottom Line
You want your event social network to be a communication hub for your event
before and after the event. You want attendees to spend time networking, sharing
ideas, connecting with other attendees and discussing hot topics.

The easier it is to join your event social network – the more attendees will do it.
So, work with your technology vendor to make your social network as easy as
possible to join.

Is it easy to join your event social network? or is it like climbing a mountain?

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Why User-Generated Content is Good for
Meetings &!Events
Imagine that you are a Prince fan. Not just any fan, but a big fan. Now, imagine
that Prince is coming to your town for a once-in-a-lifetime concert. Of course,
you really, really, really want to go but tickets sell out in 8 minutes. You didn’t get

Now, you are riding the bummer train to sadness city.

Does that mean that you wouldn’t think about the Prince concert ever again? Of
course not – you would think about it every minute. You would gobble up stories,
videos and pictures that are posted about the concert.

Ignite Passionate Fans (or Advocates)

Your meetings and events have passionate fans (or advocates), too. They might
not look and behave like Prince fans – but they exist. Many of them are already
spreading the word of your greatness – around the water cooler at work, to like-
minded friends, etc. Some of them are using Social Media. They are writing blog
posts, uploading pictures, making videos, etc. You can’t stop them – they are in a
little red corvette and going crazy. You can only hope to harness their energy and
ride the wave.

Quench The Thirst of the People at Home

Remember those people in Sadness city? They wanted to come – but couldn’t
make it. Your meetings & events have those people too. They are thirsty for the
sights, sounds and stories from your event. The sharing of stories, pictures and
videos (User-Generated Content) by your passionate advocates helps the people
at home connect with the event content, connect with the energy and become part
of the experience.

Create Word of Mouth Referrals and Trust

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, conversations with friends and peers
are trusted more than the slick-polished corporate stu". (Duh!) Equally important,
conversations with company employees are trusted much more than speeches by
the CEO. By encouraging User-Generated Content – you create an unfiltered view

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of your event that is trust-worthy AND can be viewed as an endorsement of your
event. ! This is a good way to encourage loyalty, retention and attract more

Share a Taste of the Magic

Events are experiences that involve all 5 senses. It is hard to capture the magic of
the experience in a press release or recap. By encouraging your passionate fans to
share the experience from their point of view – even the raw and uncooked ones –
a multi-sensory picture of the event emerges that helps people get the essence or
spirit of the event. This picture can be useful to “future” first-time-attendees that
are not sure what your event is all about.

Bottom Line
Encouraging your passionate participants to share stories, pictures and videos
from your event is a good thing. You engage passionate people that could not
attend and help them stay connected with your event and organization. Future-
first-time- attendees get referrals from trusted friends and use the multi-sensory
picture to get an idea of what your event is all about.

Are you embracing User-Generated Content from your meetings and events? Or
are you in the Purple Rain?

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Do You Allocate Enough Time For!Interaction?

I recently read that!80% of learning is informal. This statistic was published in a

fascinating article called “Learning Gets Social” in the August issue of Training &
Development. ! While I am not smart enough to challenge the validity of this
number, I am smart enough to ask this question: !If learning is informal AND
face to face events are so important – do you think there is enough time
being allocated to interaction in events?

Too often, I see agendas that are packed with speakers and barely any free time.!
If you are serious about engaging attendees, then you need to consider setting
aside time for interaction. Here are some questions that might want to ask

1. How Much Are Attendees Passively Listening vs Actively Contributing?

Not long ago, I came across a report by Crystal Interactive (Creating Internal
Events that are Fit For Purpose) that surveyed UK corporate and internal events
and found that 90% of the learning time is spent passively listening. While only

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10% is spent participating in interactive activities. ! I was blown away by the
numbers and suggest that you read the report (see link above). The body of the
report o"ers several suggestions for thinking through objectives, managing time
and interaction in an internal corporate event.

2. What happens following the motivational keynote speech?

In the article “How Not to Use a Great Speaker”, Ed Bernacki describes a
motivational keynote speech that missed its mark – because there was no time set
aside for interaction and reflection with other attendees after the speech. ! He
suggests allocating 20-30 minutes for attendees to discuss the presentation’s key
themes in small groups. This way you can get extra value from the investment in
the speaker and allow attendees to build a stronger connection to the content and
its message.

3. Will there be several people in the audience as knowledgeable as the

speaker on the selected topic?
The line between the experts on the stage and the attendees in the audience is
blurring. Attendees have access to much more research and knowledge than in
the past. In some topic areas, new case studies and insights are emerging
everyday. If the topic fits this profile make sure you allocate time to get the
perspective of other knowledgeable participants.

4. Sooo…how much time should you allocate to interaction?

Crystal Interactive recommends that you allocate 30-50% of learning time to
interactive activities. While a recent case study by Ron Springer of Espirit
Productions showed that business results were achieved by increasing interaction
from 26% to 58% and cutting PowerPoint Presentations in half from 50.6% of time
to 24%.!!(Read Case Study)

Bottom Line
You control how attendees spend their time at your events. If you want them to
interact more, then consider allocating more time to interaction activities.

How much time are you allocating for interaction?

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How to Set the Interaction!Dial
Endless PowerPoint presentations and stale ham sandwiches have been making
attendees comatose at meetings and events for decades now. While many event
organizers recognize the need for more interaction, few know where to start.

Most leap for technology tools and new formats.

By immediately starting with technology solutions, you risk over-engineering OR

under-engineering your interactive experiences.

Ask The Key Question

In my opinion, there is a better way. I prefer to start with this seemingly simple
question: What are attendees supposed to do as a result of this interaction
(or session)?

Here are some possible responses:

• Stay awake & not fall asleep

• Stop playing with their mobile gadgets

• Ask questions

• Answer a question

• Give their opinion

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• Learn a new skill

• Embrace the organizational change

• Feel better

• Accept an invitation to meet a sales rep

• Reinforce product benefits

• Experience the brand

• Find 5 new association members

• Purchase your products

• Go change the world

• Tell 47 people that your company rocks!

• Create 25 new ideas

• Be a part of the grass roots e"ort to ______

• Change their way that they work

Set the Interaction Dial

I view answering the question above as setting the interaction dial, because it sets
a target for your interactive experience. Also, interactions have di"erent intensity
levels. Some interactive solutions are really simple (like having attendees ask
questions). While others are complex !(like brainstorming with 500 people) and
require additional planning, design, session time and sophisticated tech tools. By
setting the target – you make it easier to match the interactive experience to your
desired outcome.

After you set the interaction dial, don’t be shy. Get your stakeholders involved in
creating a solution. Ask the speakers, facilitators, meeting designers, A/V team
and technology services providers to help you. These are smart people. Don’t be
afraid to use them.

Bottom Line
When you are planning interactions – start by thinking through the action that you
want attendees to take afterward. Then, work on matching the right processes,
event formats and interactive technology to your objective.

Where will you set the interaction dial?

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Are Your Events Haunted by the Blackberry!Prayer?
You know the blackberry prayer. It’s that pose that attendees adopt when they
stu" their faces into their blackberry devices (or iphones) during the keynote
address or breakout sessions. You know – at the exact moment that they should
be listening.

For some speakers and event organizers this can be embarrassing and frustrating.
After all the content is supposedly important stu". Based on what I am hearing
and reading in discussion groups – it seems to be haunting events.

New Flash: Mobile Devices Are Here To Stay

With more than 120,000 applications available for smart phones, mobile phones
are only going to grow in usage. So, you can expect the blackberry prayer to
become more common at events in 2010. Here are some additional facts:

• More than 58% of Americans have a web enabled mobile phone

• In Europe, 1 in 4 households cancelled their landline and are only using

their mobile

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• More than 2 trillion SMS (text) messages were sent in 2008. (Yes! that is
Trillion with a “T”!!)

• 1 in 4 new mobile phones sold in the US is a smart phone.

Besides dressing up as the headless horseman and throwing flaming pumpkins at

attendees (which, by the way, I don’t advise) – what can you do to get attendees
to look up and pay attention to the speaker?

If You Can’t Beat’em – Join‘em

You can’t prevent people from using their smart phones at your event – but you
can engage them through the smart phones. !Ask attendees to use their devices
to look up answers during a session. Ask them to tweet you questions or
comments. Or use one of the mobile event applications that helps them keep in
touch with you and the event.

If those ideas still sounds scary to you – here are 10 more ideas that will help you
create interaction:

1. Increase Interaction Time & Reduce Speaker Presentation Time

2. Setup A Backchannel

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3. Use Mobile Texting Tools

4. Use the Buzz Collaboration Format

5. Try the Fishbowl Technique

6. Try an Unconference

7. Use Open Space Technology

8. Try An Audience Response Team Building Game

9. Start a Flash Mob – Like Oprah

10. Try a Treasure Hunt

Bottom Line
Ghosts, Goblins and Blackberry-using-attendees do not control your event
experience – you do. !When it comes to addressing the growing number of mobile
devices at your events you have two choices: Trick or Treat.

Let me know if you have any alternative witches brew that might be useful here.
Happy Halloween!

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Which Event Technology Has The Best ROI?
Today, I was asked to pick ONE event technology that o"ers
the best ROI for events.
The questioner didn’t want to hear –“well there are several
choices depending on your needs – blah, blah, blah.” He
wanted one answer. He wanted it on the spot.

For me, this was gut-check time.!So – I blurted out: Virtual

meetings and hybrid events.

I made a good choice. Though, I imagine some of you are thinking that I must be
riding the crazy-train to loony land.

So, here’s the deal. I will share the reasoning for my choice below. Then, I need
you to push back. Pick an event technology that you think o"ers a better ROI and
make your case.

Why I Chose Virtual Meetings & Hybrid Events

This event format is building communities and including more people in events
than ever before and doing it for less.
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Save Money
Cisco recently reported that they cut their event expenses by 90% by hosting a
virtual meeting. It makes sense – when you host a virtual event you avoid travel,
venue and F&B charges, etc. !GE is using massive 60 person Telepresence centers
to avoid long distance travel and save money. One executive traveling to Asia for
a meeting can cost more than $30,000 and more than 6000 pounds of carbon

Include More People

Another powerful benefit is using the hybrid format as a compliment to a face-to-
face event to include more people. Here are two examples:

• BlizzardCon in Anaheim, California, USA was sold out. They had 20,000
participants onsite and over 100,000 people attend virtually or through
pay-per-view on DirectTV.

• In October, ITU’s Telecom World in Geneva had 40,000 participants onsite

and Broadcast the entire conference to over 100,000 people around the

Drive Virtual Attendees to Face-to-Face

Equally important, I think using virtual as a compliment to face-to-face is good
for your event. Imagine using virtual activities to drive people to your face-to-face
event. 34% of the Cisco virtual attendees reported that they would like to attend a
face-to-face event in the future.

A Word of Caution!
Virtual events are not right for all meetings. Forbes recently published a report on
“Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face Meetings.” In that report they
interviewed 750 business executives that agreed that Virtual Events are best for
“Presenting Data” and “Information Dissemination.” In all other cases, the
executives agreed that Face-to-Face meetings were the best solution.

Bottom Line
Virtual & hybrid events o"er event planners another way to connect to a larger
community, drive attendees to your face-to-face events, save money and reduce
carbon emissions. ! Sounds like a great ROI to me?

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18 Tips To Make Your Event Webcast!Rock!
Are you thinking about adding a webcast to your next conference? I feel like
“live” webcasts from conferences are popping up everywhere. ! Just last week,
three webcasts caught my attention. !I watched the presentations and engaged in
discussions about the content.

Though, I was surprised by the lack of standards and best practices. All three
webcasts had di"erent formats, used di"erent technologies and created three
di"erent experiences for me (the virtual attendee). !All three events would have
rocked, if a mashup of all three experiences existed.

If webcasts are going to become a standard part of conferences and events – they
need to rock! So, ! I came up with 18 tips that I hope will help the first-time-
webcaster get o" to a successful start.!The tips are divided into 5 categories to
make it easier for you to digest them and think about them. ! If you have
additional tips, please add them in the comments section!

Planning Your Session

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1. ! Think Like a TV Producer. Once you start webcasting you are basically
creating a television show. You need to think about your audience and ask
yourself: Who is my audience? When will they want to watch my program? What do
I need to do in the presentation to keep them from changing the channel? Do I
need to make any changes in the introduction, content and wrap up to
accommodate them?

2. ! Pick a Date/Time that works for your virtual audience. If you want your
webcast to be seen by a large “live” audience, then air your webcast at a time
when the largest virtual audience will be available. Be sure to pay attention to time
zone changes between East and West Coast of US and Europe. One recent webcast
that I saw was broadcast live at 10AM MTN time on a Sunday morning in the US.
People were either attending church, eating brunch or sleeping. It was a terrible
time. Another snafu was 9AM EST on a weekday. In Europe that was a great time –
middle of the afternoon. However, the westcoasters were still snuggled under the

3. Use Social Tools to Share Your Story. In “Here Comes Everybody” Clay Shirky
writes that the easier things are to share – the more that people will share. So –
use social tools to help your audience to tell their “like minded” friends about
your webcast. Make it easy for them to email or tweet the links. Ask them to write
about it in their blogs. (Tips for Integrating Social Technologies in Webcasts/
Virtual Events)

4. !Create a Hashtag for Your Webcast. Use Hashtags to help a community form
around your event by aggregating the buzz and user generated content on
Twitter, Blogs, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Equally important, the hashtags will help
people that are talking about your virtual session connect with each other and
exchange ideas.

5. Assign Someone to Tweet (or Connect) the Virtual Audience with the
Face2Face Audience. Having someone summarize key points and tweet them to
the virtual audience helps the virtual audience connect with your event. Encourage
this person to ask the virtual audience questions. In the #bizbutterflies session
Paul Salinger asked the virtual audience questions that provided additional points

Interactive Meeting Technology Blog:! 36

of view. He then shared those tips with the live face-to-face audience. !(Additional
Tips from Doug Caldwell)

Webcast Technology
6. Computer Screen Real-Estate: In my dream world, the screen would contain
the video, the slides AND a place to see the backchannel. I have yet to see anyone
do it. Most vendors provide either the video + backchannel or the Video + slides.
Be sure to select a vendor that can integrate 2 of these 3 services on the screen.
When you find a vendor that can do all three – tell me!!

7. Setup a Backchannel: Virtual participants need to lean over and whisper

comments to their neighbor, too. So, use a backchannel to help them chat. This
could be through the Hashtag or a private chat. If this is a commercial conference
or an association conference – please use Twitter as part of your solution. It is
much easier for everyone. (Backchannel Explained by Je" Hurt)

8. Don’t Use That Auto-Rotating Webcam. In my opinion, a webcam is fine for

webcasting breakout sessions or people standing in a stationary position.
However, I strongly advise that you stay away from the auto-rotating webcam.
They end up focusing on attributes and places that are more distracting than

9. Include the Slides/Screen Content: If there is a screen that will be

broadcasting slides and videos please make sure that the virtual audience can see
that content. Most commonly I have seen slides embedded on the screens next to
the video !or o"ered as downloadable resources.

Integrate the Online Audience with the Face2Face Audience

10. Introduction and Background: If you are webcasting a single session from
your conference, it is important to introduce all speakers, leaders, characters, etc
that will be participating in the session to your virtual audience. Most virtual
participants will not be familiar with the rituals and customs of your organization
or your event. For example, one event had a talking eagle that was probably a hit
with the face to face audience. For the online-audience the eagle appeared out of

Interactive Meeting Technology Blog:! 37

11. Take Some Questions from the Virtual Audience: By including the virtual
attendees in the question and answer portion of the session – you ensure that
their ideas and points of view are valued.

12. Show the Backchannel Comments on a Video Screen: Include a big screen
or two (depending on room size) that shows audience comments. Here are a list
of options for showing these comments on the screen via twitter: (View List)

13. Conclusion and Wrap-up of session: Be sure to plan plenty of time to

properly wrap-up and conclude your virtual session. ! Thank everyone for
attending – share next steps, etc. This might sound obvious but I have been to
several webcasts where this did not happen, because the technology had a hard
cut-o" point. If your webcast technology has a hard time cut-o" then be sure to
start the wrapup early. Otherwise, you could be in the middle of answering
questions or just starting your “Thanks for coming” speech and the session
immediately cuts o". If that happens it looks really, really bad to the virtual

Stage Setup
14. Seating, Podium and Stage Space: Be alert to how your stage setup – seating,
podium, backdrop, etc will work on the video. It is sometimes hard to visualize
without the cameras. In some webcasts, I have seen the speaker darting in and
out of the camera view. In others there were objects in the line of sight of the
camera that were distracting to online viewers. !Also, you might want to give your
speakers instructions of where to stand/walk so their movements do not distract
online viewers.

15. Ask your A/V Company To Be Consultants. A/V professionals are experts in
production – so be sure to use them as a resource when planning your webcast.!
They might be able to help you avoid simple mistakes that improve the quality of
your presentation. You might not need a lot of help, but by keeping them in the
loop – you might avoid some simple mistakes.

After Your Event:

16. Archive the Session Video Immediately: People that joined late may want to
watch the portion of the presentation that they missed. By o"ering the archive

Interactive Meeting Technology Blog:! 38

immediately, they can do this while they are thinking about your event. Others will
want to tell their “like minded” friends about the “Awesome webcast” that they
missed. Having the archive immediately available helps your participants spread
the message of your awesome webcast.

17. Archive the Backchannel Discussion for Future Review. The Backchannel
will contain questions, comments, new ideas and additional links to resources. By
archiving the backchannel you create another educational resource for
participants to use.

18. Look for Blogger Recaps of your Session. Your virtual attendees might write
blog posts and other stories about your sessions. Share the links to your archive
documents with these bloggers.

Additional Resources:
19. 10 Takeaways on Virtual Events from “Boldly Going Where you Should
Already Be” by Je" Hurt (Read)

20. Virtual Meetings and Renegade Tweeps by Midori Connolly (Read)

21. 6 Things to Consider on the Way to the New World by Ian McGonnigal

22. Virtual Events Boost Live Attendance (Read)

23. Free E-Book on Virtual Events by Virtual Edge (Download)

How Can You Contribute?

There are a lot of ideas and resources in this post. !It could be better with your
input! Please share your ideas, experiences and additional resources in the
comments section. !For those of you organizing your first webcast – please use
the tips and let me know what is missing. I look forward to your suggestions and

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