Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 2013

How Disruptive Tech is 'Changing Everything' — Meetings Included

By Katie Kervin. Assistant Editor

At one conference, it was in a ballroom setting, and on each table, there was a terminal set up, sort of like a table tent, and there were a number of times during the sessions where the MC or the speaker would ask the audience for feedback [to questions like] “If you haven't started [using] Facebook or Twitter [for your company], why not? Type in your answer.” They were beamed in real-time and collated onto the big screen as they came in. So it became a really interesting realtime, two-way dialogue with the audience at key points. It really kind of changed the nature of the presentation.

They could type in whatever they wanted, or did they have a preset list of choices?

I've seen them both ways. At another conference, people were asked to use their cellphones to text the answer to a real-time poll being presented by the presenter. To me, that's a little bit less interesting. I mean, it was a neat technology demo that it could add up the poll results in real-time, but it was just a poll. The one I was describing with the kiosk, you could type in answers.

On your website you mention that you admire Marissa Mayer's “try-stuff” attitude. We talked about how it can be daunting and potentially expensive to try to adopt the newest technologies in business or at your meetings. Do you have any advice for a planner considering implementing something brand-new?

That's a good question. I guess the answer is, the reason a place like Yahoo experiments and takes these risks is because they want the climb. They want to do better. They want to attract a larger and better audience. I would think it's the same for a meeting planner, because the idea is to attract an audience to the event. One way to do that might be incorporating and advertising some of these helpful new technologies that would make it more interesting for people to go. Like, somebody who hadn't been for three years, when they find out that there will be a cool new two-way system on your phone to interact with the speaker, they might be pushed over the edge to attend. .

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