And so the saying goes “It is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all”. I’m not sure who said that (Wikipedia has conflicting reports), but it is a good saying. At least if you try to integrate something new into your events, you are pushing the boundaries – and I would argue that it’s better than doing nothing. BUT – this is not an excuse to just throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. When you are integrating technology into your events, you need to have a plan…and that plan has to include testing and making sure that it works.
I am always attending events – networking events, conferences, special events.. Whatever they are, my eye is always looking for two things:
- What are they doing that’s unique?
- How is it working?
Lately, I’m pleased to see that more and more events are throwing in unique components. Organizers are using mobile applications and Foursquare check-ins and all kinds of social media integration. But the challenge is – they don’t know what they are doing. The wifi doesn’t work, the mobile apps cost money for attendees, or worse, aren’t built for your audience’s devices. Sometimes it’s a little too unique and no one knows what to do.
It’s okay to fail – and I do believe that you should let your attendees help you improve year over year through their feedback. However, it’s not okay to just throw a bunch of technology at your event and hope your attendees know how to figure it out. If you are planning to integrate some new tool or product in your event, here are the steps I always encourage you take:
- Think about why you need it. What is currently not working? Where would you like to see further engagement or better interaction?
- What are all the possibilities that can help you? Do your research – and look for high and low tech options.
- Test, test, test. Enough said. Don’t share something with attendees if you don’t know whether or not it will work.
- Don’t forget about all the support you will need. Test, test, test. If you are giving people a link to go to, make the link easy to remember/type. Make sure people have mobile devices with a signal that can go to that link. Make sure it’s written out somewhere so people aren’t typing T instead of P.
These steps are absolutely critical to a successful technology integration. Please don’t skip them. It’s a lot of work, but doing something new is always a little hard. That’s why not everyone can do it. The ones who take the time to do it well are the ones who will be remembered.