Video Games. Smartphones. Social Media. What do these seemingly different experiences all have in common? They’re changing the way we live our everyday lives – and evolving the landscape of event design with it.
For the past three decades, playing video games has allowed people to exist in fully fabricated 3D environments. Event producers and designers are taking note by applying those concepts into meeting environments and content development and delivery in highly immersive ways such as: triggering content, lighting or music cues by human movement, programmable wristbands/lanyards that light up during key presentation moments, imagery that is created and delivered in real time, Advanced Projection Mapping that turns every surface into an environmental/content delivery space, and scenic designs using projected imagery to create alternate environments that can transport audiences (instantly) from one place to another.
Video games have also inspired gamification – video game techniques that strive to leverage people’s natural desire for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism and closure. A core gamification strategy is making existing tasks (such as training, sharing contact information, etc.) feel more like games and rewarding those players with points, achievement badges, levels, virtual currency or tangible prizes.
Since people don’t go anywhere without their phones, we can’t ignore how important of a communication channel a smartphone truly is. Smartphones are being incorporated regularly into events through participatory use by attendees in a lot of ways such as: augmented reality – where an attendee can hold their phone up to a video/printed sign, triggering additional content to magically appear on their phone’s interface; customized meeting applications – a digital, eco-friendly method to store typical event materials such as agendas, speaker bios, training content, etc.; Crowd Mics – turning mobile phones into wireless microphones; and text-to-screen/audience polling – two wonderful ways to let attendees voice their ideas and help shape event content.
With online channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, people are used to curating their own content and inspiration online. For obvious online reasons, social media is now a big part of event design. Ways to increase attendee participation using social media include:
- Platforms like PollDaddy and TwtPoll to conduct polls pre event
- QR codes to share presentations without a projector or create scavenger hunts
- Dedicated Flickr pages to encourage attendees to upload photos
- RFID technology to track event participation and trigger custom audio/imagery-based experiences
- FaceTime or Skype to stream in virtual attendees or guest speakers
- Custom Twitter hashtags to increase connections, and garner attendee generated content such as product/event reviews, speaking topics, information sharing, and more