6 Ways to Use Technology That Everyone Has to Increase Connection and Participation At Meetings

As meetings continue to morph into readily accessible formats (face to face, video streaming, Skype, mobile apps) for all types of participants we are looking more towards technology to build engagement and interest for our meetings.

It is evident that our new model for meetings in the next decade as we head towards the year 2020 will comprise of face to face, virtual via live streaming, post meeting access via mobile technology and social connections pre-meetings and post meetings.

We cannot discuss technology and meetings without seeing who is doing ‘what’ with technology and then look at how to use the technology that we all have access to increase participation and relevancy of our meetings.

According to New Media Trend Watch 2011, Gen Y’s comprise nearly a quarter of the total US population, and are evenly split between males and females. Less than six in ten are caucasian, and aside from children under 18, Gen Y’s are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in the country’s history.
Virtually all members of this age group are online, and nearly as many are social network users. Gen Y’s are ahead of the curve by almost any digital metric: online video viewing, mobile internet usage, mobile commerce, and location-based services.

Key numbers – US consumers aged 18-34:
– Internet users: 91% of population in 2011 / 94% by 2015
– Social network users: 86% of internet users in 2011 / 89% by 2013
– Online video viewers: 84% of internet users in 2011 / 90% by 2015
– Mobile internet users: 62% of mobile phone users by 2011 / 76% by 2015

For the rest of the population research shows that Gen X and early boomers are increasing their use of tablets such as IPads to access Internet and are integrating mobile web browsing albeit at a bit of a slower adoption rate than the Gen Y’s.

So here’s what we can acknowledge almost every person who attends meetings will have a smart phone such as an IPhone, Android or Blackberry. We can also assume that they are using their device to text, browse the web, email and instant message.

If we know that we already have access to these items how can we use them to increase connection and participation in meetings?

Here are a few ways we can use the tools we already have:

1. Build your own proprietary social network hub either through Facebook or use a service such as I-Meet to connect with others specifically within your industry or also those who will be specifically attending the meeting.

2. Create an app for your meeting with a game component- a meeting planner I worked with recently created an Amazing Race for all participants where all clues were by text and part of the tasks involved using the smart phones to find out answers.

3. Request your speakers to use technology to increase participation in their sessions. Text to screen technology such as Wiffitti allows participants to engage with the content from the speaker, ask questions and become part of the program.

4. Every smart phone has video capability- create a contest for participants in the meeting to capture their best photos of activities during the conference and then get them to message the photo to a central text number- those photos are then uploaded and shared towards the end of the conference and a prize given to the best photos.

5. This next idea will depend on your privacy guidelines but in addition to publishing email contacts for those attending the conference gather and publish their cell phone numbers so that attendees can text each other during the conference but also for follow up marketing after the conference.

6. Create a central portal for requests that can be texted to all registered attendees at the meeting. Call it a ‘request line’ and basically it is a dedicated text number where people can make specific requests and those requests are mass texted to all attendees for an answer.