There’s more to a great tech event than blazing fast Wi-Fi, flashy A/V, or cutting-edge VR experiences. In fact, the biggest variables for great tech events don’t involve tech at all. Take it from these tech event veterans—if you want a tech event with some real byte, focus on these fundamentals.
Bryan Mattimore, cofounder of the Growth Engine Innovation Agency, facilitates interaction with idea-generation exercises. He recently planned an event for the California Institute of Technology that combined keynote speeches and workshops with teambuilding. “They went a long way in helping build community amongst a group of people that didn’t know each other before the event,” explains Mattimore.
Here’s how Mattimore got people talking: After listening to the keynote, the attendees engaged in a triggered brainwalk. Mattimore put up flip chart “ideation stations” around the room. Small teams of attendees brainstorm together, writing their action-oriented ideas based on the speech they just heard. Next, these teams rotate to their neighbors’ station and add to the ideas or create new concepts.
“We usually have teams rotate three or four times, generating new ideas at each step in the process. As a final step, teams rotate back to their original station and circle the ideas they like,” says Mattimore. “People are moving, making new connections, being creative, exercising their brains, and having fun.”
Video streaming is an increasingly accessible way for your event to reach larger audiences. Scott Olson, director of marketing at Trade Ideas, a provider of stock market research and scanning technology, plans annual conferences that have included “Empowering Women Investors,” “Trade Ideas Summits,” and “Rise with the Machines.”
In addition to in-person attendance, Trade Ideas streams the entire event for free to those who register online.
“To ensure a smooth experience for attendees, online viewers, and those who will watch replays of the presentations, it’s important to scout locations and work with a competent team,” explains Olson.
When considering locations for the conferences he plans, Olson pays particular attention to
the layout and amenities of the venue, focusing on where the stage is, the audience, cameras, projector, screen, video team, and where the sound engineer will be located.
Other items on his checklist include verifying that the necessary electrical and networking connections are available. He determines whether he will need to supplement internet bandwidth or if the venue’s internet is sufficient. He also makes sure the guests will be able to access Wi-Fi for their own use without impacting the stream.
“If you plan on providing a quality live broadcast, all those needs should be met so there are no surprises. Scouting the location and conducting a gear test helps the whole team sleep better the night before.”
Sponsorship can be more than logo placement. Olson uses event content to provide more value to sponsors and get them in front of the right audience.
For instance, The Small Exchange was a top tier sponsor of one of Trade Idea’s most recent conferences. Its executive vice president, Pete Mulmat, presented in front of those who were in attendance and to 3,000 people watching online. After the event, Trade Ideas conducted a video interview and created a two-minute segment that was also emailed to Trade Ideas’ entire database. “All that provides them with a great deal of exposure and value for their sponsorship investment,” adds Olson.
When it comes to tech, people are excited for the future. But focusing only on the theoretical leaves out a lot of exciting things happening NOW. “(Speakers) should focus on topics like where is tech going as well as where is tech now. People are all about theorizing where we’ll be in the years to come, but it’s important to see what the big guns are doing today, too. Encourage a mixture of experts and up and coming names,” says Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris, a PC consulting company.
Sherman also recommends giving demos and tests. “People love to see examples of tech. See it, touch it, feel it. This helps people understand what it is and that it’s truly possible. Have demos available and allow people to try out some new technology,” he recommends.
Giveaways also extend the life of an event as when the recipient uses the product, but don’t just give away items that end up in someone’s junk drawer. Try innovative take-home ideas like branded fruit, charity donations, or experiences. Not only is it more memorable, it’s more environmentally friendly too.