||Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, speaker and award winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine named Sam one of the most innovative people in the events industry. In 2010, Sam co-founded Event Camp Twin Cities an innovation lab for events that rewrote the rules for attendee engagement in hybrid events. Sam judges the annual EIBTM Worldwide Event Technology Watch Awards in Barcelona, Spain.|
If you consider using an overhead projector and a stack of transparencies to be the best technology available for engaging your event attendees, then it may be time to investigate what some high tech options can do for you. There are exciting and amazing technologies available to you today that can turn a ho-hum meeting into a dynamic event from which your attendees will benefit and take away something valuable. (And isn’t that really the point?) “At Interactive Meeting Technology
LLC,” says managing Director Samuel J. Smith, “the collision between technology and face-to-face events creates new opportunities.”
Q. Tell me about Interactive Meeting Technology.
A. We help companies pinpoint interactive solutions for their events. Our goal is not to stuff attendees into chairs for hours at a time. That’s a waste of time for all these smart, educated people out there. We want to ask ourselves, how can we engage all of these people to the best advantage? How can we tap into other folks to participate, instead of just putting all the responsibility on the event speaker? How can we tap into our attendees’ talents and resources if we want them to collaborate or help solve a problem? Remember, people remember best if you involve them. If you create a learning environment, they’ll take it home with them and it will change their life.
Q. You said that the “collision between technology and face-to-face events creates new opportunities.” How so?
A. First, it allows us to extend the parameters of the meeting to both before and after the event, through the use of social media. Second, it allows you to include people that can’t be physically present at the time or place of the actual event by means of Twitter or streaming online. Next, it offers opportunities to engage with everyone onsite that you might have missed had you not begun a relationship with them on Facebook or Twitter prior to the event. In all these ways, it changes the model of how to present material and how we communicate information within a meeting.
Q. How can a meeting/event planner use those technologies to engage their attendees?
A. Meeting/event planners have to recognize that the way they behave with the technology while they’re at their own desk is different than what they’ll do at an event. If they’re not skilled at mobile kung fu for example, it can create a problem. In other words, if they don’t know how to do something like download aps or they don’t understand the technology, they’ll run into problems. As much as possible, they need to be well-versed on the technology before the event takes place.
They also need to recognize that there are different audience types—those who create, those who critique, those who collect, those who join and those who simply want to check things out. A planner needs to strategize activities for each segment; to think through what would engage their participants the most. If they can connect with their attendees, then they can get them talking to one another, using their resources and changing behaviors.
Q. Where should a planner begin in deciding what technologies to use?
A. Begin with their objectives and what they’re attempting to achieve. Part of that is thinking through all your resources—money, people and organizational support. And if you’re not well-versed in the technological possibilities, find someone to help you, like Interactive Meeting Technology; someone or some organization that is aware of what technology is available and how to strategically marry it to the resources you possess.