Advances in technology will alter the structure of traditional corporate meetings in 2017. Wearables, cell phones, tablets, and laptops all connected through the power of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology have transformed the passive meeting audience into active participants in the exchange of information. No longer content to “sit and listen”, attendees now comment, ask questions, and discuss topics with their colleagues on and off site throughout the entire meeting. That changes everything for meeting planners.
Meeting planners are now challenged to choose venues, alter meeting room layouts, select presenters, and utilize the latest technologies to accommodate this new interactive participant’s needs and wants. Interactive meeting planning is in!
Old fashioned hotel auditorium-style conference rooms are no longer adequate. The old classroom or conference layout is giving way to versatile arrangements that might include couches, multiple stages to accommodate simultaneous live and large screen multi-media presentations, cluster or cabaret-style seating with stools and high tables, and power hook-ups at every seat.
HELLO INTERACTIVE LAYOUTS
One recent large meeting space incorporated all of these elements. Live presentations emanated from a stage at the front of the room, while a multi-media slack channel broadcast the presenter’s bullet points and comments along with questions from attendees, both on and off-site, onto a twenty-foot HDTV screen at the side of the room. The participants sat at tables arranged in discussion clusters with individual power and internet hook-ups. A “laptop lane” of high-tables and stools for the press and other interested parties stretched across the back of the room. This event was a good example of what modern interactive meeting spaces might look like in 2017.
Meeting planners will have to select and prepare presenters who can thrive in this new environment. Presentations will have to be both interactive and high-tech. Slide shows accompanied by “background droning” will be anathema in 2017. Even off-site attendees will be able to have their say during a presentation, let alone the interactive participants attending in person. Presenters must “up their game” to “interactive” in 2017.
In order to keep the content on the main stage on track and on message in the new interactive tech environment of 2017, the traditional Q&A session will be moved off the main stage to a dedicated space to avoid running mics or subjecting the entire main meeting room to someone’s long winded question. In a dedicated Q&A space, speakers will feel more relaxed answering questions while the attendees will have a more personal experience with the speakers.
Designing events to meet the new interactive guest’s tech needs is a crucial aspect of planning business events in 2017. For event planners, it seems “traditional” means “outdated”.