Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio April
BY ELLIOTT MASIE
DIGITALLY SURROUNDING A MEETING
How to extend the length and impact of a meeting
Before the Internet, a three-day meeting lasted three days. Now,
the life span of an event can be lengthened dramatically by
harnessing the communicative and collaborative nature of the Web.
By building a “digital surround” around the meeting, planners can
enhance the quality, engagement and impact of the event.
We recently ran a two-day conference in Seattle for 200 human
resources managers. The digital surround has a six-month footprint,
extending from two months before the meeting to four months after
the last coffee break.
E-mail welcome. We send participants a highly
personalized e-mail (delivered by our mail server) the moment they
register. They receive a current agenda, event news, information on
who else will be attending and a welcome from the host. Updates are
sent out every two weeks until the meeting, contact that reduces
our cancellation/no-show rate dramatically.
Digital reading. Participants often complain
they never have time to read pre-event packages. We upgraded the
media format to small, streaming video clips they can view on their
PCs. To get them into the content, we send an animated PowerPoint
presentation with narration from one of the key speakers.
Community begins. We create an online
discussion area where participants can interact prior to the event.
Subject areas range from travel plans to event topics. We have
found people respond best when the board blends social and work
issues. Planners can use a free online Web community like ONElist
(www.onelist.com) to provide this functionality.
Live pre-event briefings. We hold an optional
teleconference with Web-enhanced collaboration to give attendees a
final briefing. While on the phone, they can view related graphics
on the Web. Services like CentraNow (www.centranow.com)
and WebEx (www.webex.com) offer this low-cost connectivity.
Site building. The digital surround continues
during the event as staffers upload session proceedings to the Web.
They annotate slides and elaborate on questions that were not
covered fully by the presenter. PCs set up at the back of the room
offer a view of this organic Web site during breaks. The completed
site is up and running when participants return to their
Recordings. Key sessions are captured on audio
and video. The files are offered to late arrivals so they can catch
up on what they have missed, and the files become part of our
Learning resources. We enhance our Web site with
links to key documents and resources. Rather than just list a long
series of links, we review each one to help visitors find the most
Presentations galore. We post all slides and
presentations, as well as some audio and video. We link these clips
to a discussion board for on-going conversations.
Peer locator. We offer contact information for
attendees who provide permission. Highlights. The social aspects of
the meeting also are loaded on our site to help people relive the
Registration for next year. Annual events can
be marketed through early-bird registration on the Web site.
E-mail newsletter. A post-event newsletter goes
out every six weeks to continue the communication process and is
loaded with new content from the presenters.
Live post-event briefing. You can even add a
final session similar to the pre-event briefing. A number of
organizations are charging for these add-on events or are selling
sponsorships to offset costs and raise revenue.
To sample our digital surround, go to www.elearning2000.com.Elliott Masie is president of the Saratoga Springs,
N.Y.-based MASIE Center (www.masie.com), an international think tank focused on
learning and technology.
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