Ten critical tips for incorporating IT into your next meeting or event

Ten critical tips for incorporating IT into your next meeting or eventThe main purpose of an event or a meeting is to have “face-to-face” engagement with the attendees. 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! Events are based on “face-to-face” time with clients, peers and colleagues.

Here are 10 critical tips for incorporating IT and maximizing face time at a meeting or event:

1. Learn what your speaker would like in terms of IT. Whether it is a PowerPoint presentation with embedded video or the speaker needing web access to show a demonstration, these details need to be ironed out in advance.

2. Figure out how the speaker will take questions. More people are using social media. If you’re streaming questions live, make sure that there is a delay on when the questions 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 emails throughout the event. Make sure that there is enough bandwidth for the number of people attending.

I once had 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. 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. A large portion of attendees tweeting to the main speaker can cause Wi-Fi to lag. If you’re incorporating Twitter, also ask attendees to use hashtags to better keep track of feedback.

5. Determine if streaming media will be open to all attendees. Keep in mind that 70 per cent of the audience will be using their smartphones to view the event instead of actually looking directly at the speaker.

6. Make sure that all common sites are attainable. Some organizations will sometimes block these common sites. Make sure that you have administrator access to make sure this is not the case.

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 the same as your organization. Try to use an alphanumerical password and the best encryption you can.

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 be having.

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.

About the author:

Andy McNeill, CEO of AMI, is a veteran of the meetings and event industries, with more than 25 years of experience in the profession. He has assisted firms in a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, biotech, healthcare, consumer, sports marketing and investment banking. He firmly believes in the strategic meeting marketing model and provides consulting services to Fortune 100 clients on the practice. After graduation from Florida State with a degree in marketing, Andy began his career in the event marketing group at Florida State Athletics. Soon after, he launched his own event marketing company and after five years merged with a major sports marketing firm. Andy spent six years with NSG Corporation as the Senior Vice President leading the sales and marketing for the firm who produced events for over 200,000+ attendees annually across the globe. Andy and the NSG team worked with the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to produce portions of the Opening Ceremonies. Following NSG, Andy secured the role as COO at Fanizzi Associates, one of the nation’s largest event pharmaceutical firms. There he managed the overall operations of the company who executed over 400 events annually for physicians and internal pharmaceutical clients. Revenues exceeded $40 million a year. In 2002, Andy left Fanizzi Associates, and launched AMI with the vision of owning and operating a premiere event marketing and meeting management firm. Since 2002, AMI has grown into a multi-million dollar organization producing hundreds of events annually. The firm has managed programs in more than 20 industries for clients such as Novartis, Mars, Cleveland Clinic, J & J, Baxter, Pfizer and Office Depot. Andy’s vision of keeping AMI on the forefront of meetings technology, theory and practice has made it an industry leader. He is a member of MPI, Site, and the American Marketing Association. He volunteers as a chair of the Human Rights Campaign. Andy's day-to-day responsibilities include client acquisition, consulting and overall company strategy.

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