Here’s this week’s guest post by Josh Marks, director of marketing at American Meetings, Inc.
The Meeting and event industry is in a transition period where event planners can increase attendee retention and maximize on extended audiences all around the world through electronic means. Anyone planning an event must be sure to let IT enhance the program, not swallow it!
Listed below are 10 ways to incorporate IT in ways that will let you maximize face time at a meeting or event:
1. Learn what your speaker would like in terms of IT. Whether the speaker has a PowerPoint presentation with embedded video or she needs Web access for a demonstration, these details need to be ironed out in advance.
2. Figure out how the speaker will take questions. If he wants to use social media to interact with audiences, make sure that there is a delay on the questions that will appear and be extremely prepared for candid questions.
3. Decide on the bandwidth for the venue. Most attendees will be on smart phones or checking their e-mail throughout the event. Make sure that there is enough bandwidth for the number of people attending.
Andy McNeill, CEO of American Meetings, points to a client who refused to invest in expanded bandwidth and hundreds of attendees could not access speaker slides and presentations. “It created a frustrating situation for both the speakers and the attendees,” he says. “Have your IT contact do an analysis based on estimated attendees and invest in the infrastructure. If you don’t have the budget, then rely on traditional communication such as audience response systems and large screens to communicate the speaker’s message.”
4. Decide whether to use social media as a part of the meeting. When a large portion of attendees are tweeting, it can cause Wi-Fi to lag. Also be sure to let attendees know what hashtags to use so you can track attendee feedback.
5. Determine if streaming media will be open to all attendees. Keep in mind that 70 percent of the audience will be using their PDAs to view the event instead of actually looking directly at the speaker.
6. Make sure that you have administrator access so you can make sure that all the Web sites you want to access show up in your browser--some organizations may block certain sites.
7. Do not put all your trust in free Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi has limited quality and a small bandwidth. Invest in an IT infrastructure for your event. Any issues with Wi-Fi could have a huge toll on your whole event.
8. Secure your Wi-Fi. Make sure not to label your Wi-Fi network as belonging to your organization. Try to use an alpha-numerical password and the best encryption you can find.
9. Know your IT contact. Be sure to have your IT contact on site to help with any issues that may arise with equipment, or problems attendees might have.
10. Decide whether you will be working on a computer. If so, make sure you have a reliable Wi-Fi network in your workspace—one that is powerful enough to handle the mass emails you will be receiving and sending out.