When it comes to event technology, it can be tempting to amass a stack of the newest and shiniest toys, simply for the sake of having them and staying on top of trends.

“There’s an assumption that people will be impressed and excited about using new technology,” said meeting design and collaboration expert Mary Boone in an interview with Convene, “but technology- driven decisions versus objective-driven decisions can cause a lot of issues and problems.”

Design thinking can be applied to all aspects of meeting and conference planning. That especially goes for tech integration, which we’ve found to be crucial in providing opportunities for interaction, engagement and brand building. Each piece of technology should be tied to specific meeting objectives.

Here are our tips for mapping technologies that match your meeting, event, or conference goals:

To foster attendee-to-attendee connection…

Meetings may be about building face-to-face connections, but your average attendee is accustomed to supplementing in-person relationships with digital communication every day. Without expecting them to abandon those routines, try making it easy for them to chat with others by implementing conference-hosted social networking activities. Integrate in-person interaction by providing meeting enhancements like photo booths to stimulate social shares, cooking classes, or other team building activities. Remember: Tech is not an end goal, but a means to creating ways to connect.

To deepen attendee engagement…

In addition to building deeper relationships among participants, technology can help them develop stronger relationships with your company, sponsoring organizations or vendors. Convene leverages a number of digital tools to encourage engagement among all participants. For example, digital projectors and signage remind participants of conference themes, scheduling and speaker messaging. By creating the opportunity for engagement and then providing subtle reminders, you can nudge attendees into fruitful conversation with all conference participants.

To boost interaction…

Anyone who has sat through a long lecture knows that such sessions, especially back-to-back, can be tiring. Solve listener fatigue and short attention spans by leveraging audience response technology. It offers participants the ability to be involved in an event right from their chairs and in real time. For example, tools like sli.do make it possible for audience members to ask questions or share their opinions from their mobile devices. Such stimulation helps participants retain information and reduces fatigue, increasing the value of each session for each individual.

To generate buzz…

There are no better ambassadors for your event than on-site participants. Capitalize on their energy—and their networks—by making it easy for them to spread the word about their attendance, their impressions and what they’ve learned. Encourage attendees to blog, tweet, post or otherwise share online. Consider offering incentives, such as free event admission, for those who drive a certain amount of traffic to your conference site, or prizes for the best post-program blog.

To extend the event…

After the event has come to an end, a well-thought out digital strategy can ensure all the hard work that was put into the conference or meeting is put to future use. Program consultants should provide simulcasting for interested parties who can’t attend the meeting in person. Planners should also offer post-event access to recorded sessions for conference participants and non-attendees. Doing so increases the chances that your audience (a) retains what they learned, (b) shares it socially and (c) returns to your next conference or meeting.

 

Technology is critical to your conference plans, not only because it can streamline events, but because it creates opportunities for engagement that traditional physical spaces may not. However, tech for the sake of #eventtech can be excessive and costly. Make sure every component you are investing in is mapped to a conference goal!