Talking points: Ask the audience - interactive conferencing ready to make its mark
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Our series of talking points gives leading industry figures the chance to discuss the issues that affect them, and invites readers to comment. This week Steve Bindley, director of Media 1 Productions, talks about how new technological developments are shaping the impact and effectiveness of events.
The conference and events industry is constantly evolving as new technology changes the opportunities open to us. Over the years we have seen presentation technology evolve on all fronts – from 35mm slides to computer-based PowerPoint presentations, from video tapes to digital video solutions – and it is vital that we maximise the impact of this progress.
As event producers, we are expected to manage the content of the event, but more importantly, we are expected to be able to offer the expertise to ensure the event achieves its full potential. Aside from actually implementing the content production services, we need to be able to provide guidance on the latest technological advances and equipment that are available to clients.
I have worked in the conference and events industry for over 20 years now, and one thing that still remains true is that each event is different – and this needs to be captured by the production team. This includes everything from the technology available, to the choice of venue, the style of lighting and the stage design – and, of course, the audience.
Increasingly the focus today is on interactive conferencing – getting the audience to feel an integral part of the event and working with them to shape the overall experience. A key part of this is the use of audience response systems, with the technology now available to instantly gauge attitudes and monitor reactions.
"We need to ensure that event organisers continue to build their understanding about the creativity this technology gives us, and embrace the opportunities it opens up"
However, as interactive keypad technology has developed to offer far greater insight than a simple A, B or C response, it is no longer being used to its full potential. This is due to a combination of nervousness about committing to something new, and a lack of communication about the technology’s full potential.
It is this communication that is key. We need to ensure that event organisers continue to build their understanding about the creativity this technology gives us, and embrace the opportunities it opens up.
With today’s audience response keypads the level of interaction created is incomparable, allowing participation that is straightforward and powerful. The key to their success is simple – each audience member has their own keypad, allowing every individual to feel greater inclusion in the event and be sure that their views are being heard.
The keypads also give event organisers the ability to capture a vast amount of data in an instant. This data can be immediately incorporated into a presentation, providing an event that reflects the real-time attitudes of the people who matter most – the delegates. Allowing greater in-depth analysis and assessment of results, keypads offer a fair and accurate insight into the audience, allowing companies to plan and develop their approaches based on true response.
I am a great believer in this technology. We have recently invested in 1,000 keypads, and have committed to organising free interactive training seminars once a quarter, where businesses can learn how the keypads can be used to maximum effect at their conferences and events.
If we, as an industry, are to maximise the potential of new technologies, it is vital that we communicate the advantages and techniques with our clients, presenting them with simple solutions that allow them to create more engaging events that can have real impact.
Interactive conferencing is a current hot topic for the industry, but this will no doubt change with future technological advancements – and when it does, we need to be ready to offer the support and guidance that the new challenges will bring.
Steve Bindley, director and founder, Media 1 Productions
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