Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.
This is not your typical tech blog. I know today’s tech options, but am not versed in their applications. However, I am versed at making decisions and knowing how to do that may be more helpful than a list of tech tools!
Note: for this article I use the term tech tools broadly to include software, apps, other platforms.
Don’t add technology just because you can.
Be aware of the “OH SHINY” appeal of today’s tech tools.
Do not apply a tech tool’s benefits to your challenge; identify the challenge and determine if it can be solved by a tech tool. Example: poor team member communication. Might project management software be a good investment?
Just because you think it’s cool doesn’t mean your target audience will. Choose for your them, not yourself.
Have a clearly defined objective for each new technology you use.
Invest based on how you/your meeting will benefit, not on how the supplier says you will benefit. List your desired outcomes and then match them against the list of the product’s features, not vice versa.
Prioritize your wish list. No tool will have every feature you desire. Identify what is non-negotiable and what you can live without.
Don’t get distracted by added features that don’t fulfill a pre-defined objective.
Reverse your thinking and identify the immediate and long-term consequences of not adding new tech tools. What will be lost? How will it position the meeting in two, five or more years?
Ensure you know the resources required to make each new technology successful.
Assume the supplier will underestimate the amount of resources, including woman power, consulting fees, surprise add-ons (oh, that is helpful to have), etc.
Get references, especially from users not offered by the supplier. Ask tough questions.
Get input from unaffiliated tech experts who know way more than you do. Please don’t spend the exorbitant time my team spent building, populating and maintaining a supposedly DIY mobile app. (Supplier: All you have to do is upload your website info. Us: Nope.)
ONE AWESOME IDEA
Being a copy-cat is a fine quality in meeting planning. It allows others to work out the kinks for you. I think we should regularly be an attendee at other conventions. In this case, choose conventions that are using tech tools you are considering. Invite yourself in exchange for volunteer hours and/or an invitation to your meeting.
Check out New Tech Tools Enhance Every Part of a Meeting in Smart Meetings. Lots of good info, but note that they report, “technology is not so much reinventing how meetings are run as it is supercharging what’s already working and adding value for planners, attendees, sponsors, and others.” This supports my recommendation to have clearly defined objectives for adding new tools. I wouldn’t invest for the sole purpose of supercharging, unless it meets specific objectives. Nor would I discount the cool factor if I could confirm that using the tool this year will enhance next year’s meeting.
Adding tech tools does not have to be across the board or a massive endeavor. In May, the Trade Show News Network reported, “For 2017, event management teams are planning to focus on using technology to improve attendance marketing and communications, with exhibitor marketing and management, and data and analytics in a distant second place.” We can all benefit from improved attendance marketing and communications, which might be the first area to consider enhancing with tech tools.
You can count on Corbin Ball and his Meeting Technology Headquarters to provide “The Web's most comprehensive site about meeting planning, tradeshow and events technology.” He has articles, lists and assessments of tools, plus his speaking schedule. (He’s worth hearing!)
Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website.