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The Future of Events

February 17, 2017

“The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." - William Gibson

 

What a great event hosted by Slido, LiveStream and Convene yesterday. Short, sweet - it had all the ingredients of what makes a business event successful. Great space, good food, drinks, energized spirits, but it had more than that. The 2.5 hour event demonstrated what events of the future will be like. There were several subtle and overt things that was done at this event which made it great. Here are some of my observations:

 

* 7 minute bursts - Instead of 45 minute PPT presentations, there were 5 minute presentations with a facilitator turning everyones attention on the ideas, asking for questions and publishing polls. In this day and age when the abundance of information has forced shorter attention spans on us humans but has evolved us with a greater ability to absorb vast amounts of information quickly, this type of presentation and discussion environment is absolutely the future of events.

 

* Anonymous Polls - Out of the Gate the first anonymous poll was asked where can I get a pint of great beer in New York City and a word cloud began to appear real time built by the zeitgeist of the audience. Then another poll was asking people anonymously to say what guilty thing they've done which was just awesome and a terrific way of training the audience to be comfortable asking questions anonymously and answering polls anonymously as well. This is the only way to get true insights about what people are thinking.

 

* Turn to your partner for 2 minutes - there was a technique used at this event which really made it possible to have the kind of engagement and transformational experience that every event is looking for. And that's when the facilitator stops and asks the audience to take two minutes and turn to the person sitting next to them and share their thoughts and ideas about the content discussed so far. This does two things really well. First it allows people to network and make connections at the event which by the way is probably the number two reason why people come to events maybe even number one which is to connect with other participants. Number two is it allows people to put into words the things that have resonated with them or the things they are wrestling with that they don't agree with. That's an important step in the learning process because without it the audience could not even articulate back to the speaker or other people their concerns or questions without having that time to reflect and articulate outloud what they are thinking. If you want to move from just an experiential event to a transformational event this type of activity during a presentation or conference is essential.

 

"The quality of a leader cannot be judged by the answer they give but the questions they ask." - Simon Sinek

 

* Live streaming - this was being done I think to an audience of about 1,600 folks who were dialed in, but you wouldn't know it sitting in the room which is of course the experience for participants who were there. So it was done unobtrusively to those who were in the room. But what was so great about how this was facilitated was there was a representative from livestream.com (Amber) who was there making sure that those remote participants were being engaged with before during and after the event.

 

* A great MC - Padraic Gillian was the MC for the event but he corrected that title to say that he was a more a "facilitator" than an MC and drew a distinction between those titles. He said a facilitator is someone who really understands the topic and focuses the panel and the audience on that topic. He did a great job doing just that, moderating questions and facilitating everything that was going on effortlessly. The way he conducted the event was a model for how they should be done in the future.

 

* Slido.com Presentation - the CEO (Peter) spoke for only five minutes but they were a powerful five minutes. He made some really important points about how combining a moderator, the audience, and the presenter - make up a greater impact for learning then just a presenter and the audience. He also made us stop and realize the power of having a smart phone in your pocket means you could interact with the people in the room and the speaker in ways that you could never have done before. I'm super excited about seeing Slido being used in more and more events as it really elevates the quality of the conversation and helps people focus on what's really important at events.

 

* Moving from Experience to Transformation - there was some discussion in the presentations about how the future of events is moving from just creating a great experience for people to creating a transformational experience. The distinction is subtle but essentially my take away from this is that a transformational experience has a participant leave the event with an aspect of their life being changed or a new direction being revealed.

 

"When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable." - Kevin Kelly

 

I can say that from my participation in this event last night - that possibilities have opened up that were not there before and I am excited to be a part of the future.

 

 

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