Verve Creative Events’ Rob Frank says while technology isn’t a substitute for face-to-face meetings, audience engagement is crucial for event success.
There’s lots of talk in the meetings industry about disruptive technologies replacing face-to-face events. Or at least making events less necessary.
Technology cannot be a substitute for gathering a group of people in a room and facilitating meaningful interaction at both an intellectual and an emotional level.
To quote neuroscientist Antonio Damasio: “We are not thinking machines that feel. We are feeling machines that think.”
While technology has the ability to enhance the process of emotional connection between humans, it will never replace it. And events are the perfect place to create that. Events are all about stimulating the intellect and the emotions.
However, we can’t deny that technology has changed the way we think about events. Mobile and wearable devices, and the “internet of things,” mean the entire universe of human knowledge is now literally in our pockets. Your smartphone can lead you to absolutely any piece of information you could possibly need.
So, events should not revolve around delivering information, but instead focus on motivating and leading people to discover the information for themselves — together. This is a far more effective way of engaging an audience than good old “death by PowerPoint.”
Given this shift in thinking, it opens up the potential for events to be increasingly powerful tools for business growth. The key is audience engagement at a deeply human level. And that requires a fairly radical re-think about how the traditional conference/meeting is structured. It requires creativity and open-mindedness in the way we design events and it means throwing out some of the old rules and replacing them with some of the even older rules.
Technology can be a valuable tool in this process, but never let shiny new things replace the fundamentals of human interaction. That’s what events are all about.
Based in Sydney, Rob Frank is the creative director of award-winning event management company Verve Creative Events.