Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 26 2016

The Buzz Word You Probably Don’t Know But Need To Understand

David McMillin


There’s a new term that should be in every business leader’s vocabulary: hypertelling.

Never heard of it? That’s okay. Neither had I until Mike Yapp, Founder and Director, The ZOO at Google, introduced the phenomenon to business leaders at C2 in Montréal. “We are at the cusp of a new era of storytelling in which the user is the author, the experience is immersive and the story is non-linear,” Yapp said. “It’s no longer about telling a story. It’s about doing it, experiencing it and creating it.”

Rather than recounting what happened in the past, hypertelling is constantly in motion. What’s happening is shifting, and the author can change direction at any point. “It’s no longer about an audience,” Yapp said. “The user is in control.”

Consider the impending explosion of virtual reality. As more consumers jump on the bandwagon with Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard and other VR platforms, they’ll be able to direct their own experiences. Rather than watching a TV show, they’ll create their own episodes. Instead of taking a guided tour of a city, they’ll be charting their own courses. “Hypertelling bends to the whim of the user,” Yapp said.

MORE: Why Giving Up Control Will Create A Better Convention Experience

Many organizations may struggle to accept this shift in control. In the meetings industry, for example, handing the reins over to attendees may feel challenging. What if they don’t follow the structured program? What if they don’t show up to the evening reception? And if attendees create their own experiences, will post-meeting surveys even matter?

The business events industry is rooted in letting an organization’s education department and meetings team write the story. We’ve worked together to design learning tracks and create engagement points along the way for attendees. We’ve started writing the stories with the end in mind, and we know how we want the last scene to appear and what we want the last page to say. But that ability won’t exist in the near future. As this era of hypertelling takes hold, organizations must recognize the importance of embracing a new approach to connecting with their audiences.  “We need to think less like designers and writers,” Yapp said. “We need to think more like inventors.”

How are you gearing up for the next generation of hypertelling? What are you doing to get your organization comfortable with handing over control to your members, customers and attendees? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts.

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