Say what you want about meetings, but most businesses couldn’t operate without them.
Face-to-face interaction is still the preferred method of business communications and great things happen when people come together. Relationships are forged, ideas are generated, and sales are closed.
An estimated 11 million business meetings occur every day in the U.S., so it’s important that meetings are productive and participants feel their time was well spent. So how can we make meetings more engaging, memorable, and even enjoyable for attendees?
There are a number of emerging technologies that can help corporate meetings be more productive and more valuable to the organization and attendees. Leading the charge is the mobile mind shift that Forrester research analysts cite as “the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need.”
Most people who attend meetings already live a mobile lifestyle. They are always on their devices, carry both smartphones and tablets, connect to work and family via mobile, and use their devices for accessing information and entertainment. The mobile mind shift has inspired a number of technologies that can supercharge corporate meetings, and have a lasting impact on your business.
Let’s start with these seven:
1. Mobile meeting apps
Mobile meeting apps are one of the original technologies to take advantage of the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. What started as a supplement for printed meeting guides is emerging as a core technology that integrates with enterprise systems and allows any department to quickly build and brand mobile apps for corporate meetings and events.
The apps serve as a central source for information and engagement, while providing your participants with an easy access point to share information, connect with peers, leave feedback and capture critical conversations, documents and educational experiences for future use.
2. Social Media
Meeting attendees use social media in their daily lives to share memorable moments. Making familiar social media tools available to them as part of the meeting experience will extend the reach of your event and brand, encourage sharing and provide valuable insights and trends that can help you better understand attendees and shape future meetings.
If your meeting is internal only, then consider a private social network that keeps the conversations away from prying public eyes.
3. Augmented and virtual reality
Just a few short years ago, there were only a few augmented and virtual reality companies developing hardware and software apps. Today, from Oculus Rift to Microsoft HoloLens and others, the selection of AR/VR devices and apps is broad and diverse with solutions for everything from games and maps, to real estate and design.
The technology continues to inch closer to reality to enhance meetings and further engage your attendees. As the graphics and processing power of mobile devices advance, AR/VR will move beyond a shiny new toy into an attractive technology that will invite new ways for employees, customers and partners to experience your products and services and engage with your business.
4. Live streaming video
Meerkat and Periscope jumpstarted a live streaming video frenzy when they were introduced in early 2015. These two competing apps rely on the Twitter platform to engage audiences.
With a simple click of the button, you can live stream corporate presentations to a broader remote audience to include staff, partners and customers from around the world. The technology will help you strengthen relationships with key stakeholders by including more of them in important meetings.
Wearables such as Apple Watch and Android Wear are just beginning to have an impact on events. Apple Watch and similar smartwatches are hyper-personal devices that create micro-mobile moments such as glancing at an agenda and receiving instant updates from meeting organizers.
These mobile moments are happening now and will soon be followed by additional capabilities such as gamification, social media and more that will allow you to take advantage of the unique capabilities of wearables, to add to your meeting experience.
“Was it worth it?” This is fairly common question businesses ask about meetings. While you can distribute paper-based or email surveys to participants after-the-fact, gathering any meaningful data can be difficult. As a digital footprint, mobile meeting apps generate a wealth data points from capturing users’ time spent in the app to the number of tweets sent and pictures shared.
You can also use the real-time data to measure the impact of speakers, monitor participant activity with meeting content and adapt your meeting on-the-fly based on what your attendees are doing and saying.
7. Audience Response
In the past, audience response systems (ARS) consisted of handheld clickers that attendees used to respond to questions proposed by presenters. Today, the clickers have been replaced by digital systems embedded with real-time event analytics. Not only can speakers gather immediate feedback from audience members during their presentations, you can use the systems to conduct live polling and meetings surveys as part of speaker evaluation and as part of a game to help drive attendee engagement. And these digital solutions are equally effective for remote attendees.
These are just a few of the technologies shaping today’s meetings and influencing how future meetings are planned and executed. As these technologies evolve, new and complementary technologies will undoubtedly rise to the surface. They will provide even more ways to increase the value and engagement of your corporate gatherings to strengthen employee, customer and partner loyalty, increase engagement among key stakeholders before, during and after meetings, and generate valuable data to help sales, marketing and other areas of the business.