Expert Advice: The Next Generation
You need to understand how adults learn, not just event logisticsby Michael McAllen | Published in January 2010 Columns | technology
You need to understand how adults learn, not just event logistics
Everyone is eager to understand and use technology to create virtual events and to enhance “real-life” events, but Jeff Hurt, director of education and engagement at Velvet Chainsaw in Aurora, Ohio, says that figuring out the logistics is not enough.
“The average event professional now needs to understand human dynamics, communication strategies, relationships, education design, social media for engagement and real-time feedback during the event,” Hurt says. “’Social’ is one of the most important words for the 21st century, not just in regards to social media, marketing and technology, but also regarding the need for people to have social engagement at a face-to-face event. That is the piece that is missing from virtual events: the ability to see and experience another person’s thoughts and emotions and to engage with them in person and face-to-face.”
Hurt, who will be a speaker at the Event Solutions Conference in Las Vegas, has worked in the education and events industry for more than 20 years. His background is in education, with an emphasis in how adults learn. He’s planned meetings and events for from 10 to 25,000 people, from face-to-face to virtual in a variety of venues.
He says our audiences—all of us, really—crave human connections. “We have to move towards an audience-centric event filled with engagement and hands-on interaction. People are tired of sitting passively for six to eight hours a day in conferences. They want to connect. They need to connect.”
Hurt lists several kinds of technology it’s important for planners to understand:
Audiovisual. “I know that sounds basic, but how many meeting professionals understand how important AV support is to the attendee experience. Engaging the senses is important for learning and retention. Vision trumps hearing in brain-friendly conferences. Poor sound, poor lighting or poor image-magnification lead to poor experiences and boring sessions.”
Internet connection. “Event professionals need to begin to think about providing adequate electrical connections and WiFi to allow attendees to blog, micro-blog and tweet during the event. Resistance to mobile devices and laptops at events is futile. Instead, learn to use these social media-related tools to your advantage to extend the conference’s message.”
Real-time feedback. “For the first time in history, conference organizers are dealing with real-time feedback from attendees using social media like Twitter and the backchannel. Conference organizers need to learn to turn on a dime during the event when the audience revolts or is displeased with the experience. No longer will the rumble only be in the hallways after the session. Now attendee feedback will be live for everyone to see.”
Hurt says there are a number of places to find resources to help you implement the new ideas for events, including:
- Twitter’s community of event professionals using the hashtag #eventprofs.
- Online meetings-related eCommunities such as MeCo, EventPeeps, Engage365.
- LinkedIn groups like the Senior Planners Industry Network.
- Industry-related blogs (go to alltop.com and click on Event Planning).
- His own blog, Midcourse Corrections, at jeffhurtblog.com.