This week’s Event Tech Podcast episode is a little bit different. Rather than having a regular conversation about event technology, Will and Brandt are sharing the contents of a session they led at the FICP Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona back in November 2021. The session was titled ‘Technology Tools and Trends Driving Engagement, Collaboration and Innovation’. And since they talked about event technology trends for 2022 and beyond, the talk is just as relevant today as it was four months ago!
It’s a great episode to catch up with everything Will and Brandt have been talking about in the past year and to see just how engaging this dynamic duo sounds in front of a live audience. They go over several favorite event tech tools, future predictions, and general event planning tips. Enjoy!
Introducing Event Technology Trends 2022
Brandt and Will give the audience a one-hour rundown of event technology trends of 2022. First, they explain that event technology is not the solution to all of their problems. But, at the same time, technology is now more important than ever before. “Because of the pandemic, technology has become the baseline of your event strategy. Before, it was just an add-on,” says Will.
Brandt explains the evolution of event technology. “Remember the days when planners thought that they didn’t need event apps? Well, less than two years ago, almost every conference had an event app of some kind. Over a course of 10 years, event apps exploded and went from 4 on the market to 200 of them. Afterward, they started getting bought and conglomerating in mergers and acquisitions. And now, we’re seeing this again with event platforms, only it’s over the span of 18 months.” In fact, Will and Brandt cover the M&As of event tech platforms in the most recent Event Tech Podcast episode.
So let’s talk about all these platforms that exist! “People don’t need to know them all,” emphasizes Brandt. “Think of the platform as your digital venue. You don’t pick the venue first and then decide what kind of event you’re going to put into it. You have an event that you want to put on that has goals and objectives. Ask yourself why you’re doing this event.”
Once you know that, it’s time to make event technology decisions. “You need to know your stakeholders and then decide what event platform you’re going to use. So how do you find new venues? How do we choose among the millions of platforms? Go to them, see as many online events as you can, and talk to your colleagues.”
Will and Brandt dive deeper into event platforms. First, they talk about event platforms for meetings with 10 people or less. “Zoom is still king for small meetings, as is Google Meet. These two tools are reliable. If you’re doing sales meetings, Zoom’s going to crush it for you. You don’t need a gigantic platform for that,” says Will.
Virtual Networking Tools
But what about virtual networking? “You can do breakout sessions in Zoom,” says Brandt. “But there are a few things to be careful about. Make sure that groups are small enough to have an effective conversation. If you’re breaking out into groups of 25 people and only have 10 minutes of conversation, that’s not a lot of time.”
“A lot of the platforms have integrations with LinkedIn so you can sign in using your LinkedIn account,” adds Will. “It will ask you if you want to share your contact information.”
Brandt recommends Mixtroz. “It’s web-based and a conversation starter. You can answer basic five easy questions as you’re coming in. You can do it at registration as well. Then, the planner can decide what kind of groups they want to create based on how people answer those questions. You can either put people who feel differently about topics together, or you want people with similar opinions in the same room. They were already working on adding the video capabilities before March 2020.”
Will, on the other hand, recommends Braindate. “It started as a non-technology tool, but they got huge during the pandemic. They created a gigantic message board and they asked every attendee to submit top things they want to talk about. At CT Montreal, for example, I said I want to talk about event trends. The person who also wanted to talk about event trends clicked on that. Then, according to both our calendars, it books the perfect time for us to meet. It’s that simple. This type of networking is centered around a topic.”
Exhibitors At Virtual Events
Next up, Brandt and Will talk about another important group of stakeholders: the exhibitors. “There are different types of exhibitors based on what goal they have,” says Brandt. Some just want to scan badges and get as many contacts as possible, while others want to nurture hot leads. “You have to go to those exhibitors who are looking for the hot leads and give them data, the magic of events.”
“Data is the value that you can offer to exhibitors and sponsors at virtual and hybrid events. Not only ‘here are the 500 people that stopped by your virtual booth’. But ‘here are the hundred people that didn’t that went to five breakout sessions about what you do’.”
Event Technology Trends 2022: Content Is King
The main two content-related event technology trends 2022 are watching content at home and live streaming. “There’s such a great opportunity for us to share content with people at home,” says Will. “But the question is: how do we make it better?”
The tech masters reference one of the recent top hybrid event examples. “Has anybody been watching Apple keynotes evolve over the course of the last year? You think back to the days of Steve Jobs when he stood in front of the giant LED wall. Now, their keynotes are well-produced movies and they’re not dialing back on that. They’ll do in-person events, but it’s going to be Tim Cook coming on the stage and introducing several 5-minute pre-recorded videos. Another great example of content done right is Frame.io’s keynote,” explains Brandt.
“If your content will be live, give it a good reason to be so,” Will adds. “It has to be amazing and engaging. The speaker needs to engage the audience. If it’s somebody just talking up there, make it a pre-recorded session instead of live. People go to in-person events to network, but they want to enjoy the content at home. If you can design your event so the content lives at home and networking stays at the in-person event, that’s how you’ll get people’s attention and stop wasting their time.”
And last but not least, Will and Brandt focus on the future of the event industry. Their motto is quality over quantity – especially when it comes to hybrid events.
“If you’re live streaming your event and you just put a camera in the back of the room and you have the virtual attendees talking to each other and in-person people talking to each other without interactions, that’s not a hybrid event,” says Will.
“Hybrid events are about two or more audiences connecting with each other,” explains Brandt. “If I watch the world cup on television and there’s a hashtag I can tweet, there’s limited interactivity. I would never say I went to the world cup. Creating a truly hybrid event is hard, but the payoffs are incredible.”
Brandt adds that hybrid events are a part of the future, as are virtual events. “There’s going to be a redistribution. We will have in-person events, broadcast events, live stream events, hybrid events, digital events. All of those things are going to exist. We learned that not every event needs to be in person.”
A Final Note On Remote Work
To conclude their talk, Will and Brandt emphasize that remote work has changed the way events operate. “When you’re designing your events from a technology perspective, keep in mind that attendees are no longer just attending your event,” says Will. “They’re also working from your event. That means bandwidth for Zoom calls is going to go up. There will be a need for remote working spaces.”
“You can’t get the cheapest Wi-Fi anymore,” agrees Brandt. “Remote work has even changed AV and production. You can get the best audio engineer or video engineer in the world working on your show remotely.”
Join us again in two weeks when Brandt and Will will be back in the studio, talking about some more exciting event technology.