The Power of People
Posted by Ron Springer | 10/5/11
Last week in this blog, we discussed how the power of technology can enhance audience engagement. When designing an event, a meeting planner can implement a stunning visual production and utilize technologies like audience response systems to keep the attendees engaged with the presentation. But there’s also something to be said for good, old-fashioned human interaction.
The D: All Things Digital conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal instituted a ban on PowerPoint. Once considered a revolutionary way to engage an audience, the presentation software is now the subject of many a joke in corporate America. One wonders if Lincoln would have held the attention of the local dignitaries in Pennsylvania if the Gettysburg Address had been delivered with accompanying slides?
The reality is that even with the huge popularity of social networks, we all still crave human interaction.
Panel discussions on a focused topic can often become free flowing, spontaneous exchanges of information instead of the controlled, sanitized, and one-sided delivery of information in a PowerPoint presentation. A certain honesty comes from these exchanges, not to mention a sense of unpredictability. Tension, humor, and wonderfully unscripted moments can make it memorable.
Some companies are now using professional moderators for these panel discussions. Hiring an outsider to ask the questions makes the meeting more dynamic. What can be more opposite of a deck of slides prepared by a marketing team than an impartial, living, breathing person directing questions to a team of experts? It’s interactive, engaging, and ultimately more informative than the passive activity of watching slides. Additionally, hiring a moderator adds credibility to your event. Your audience will appreciate that the purpose is to present an effective, informative meeting, and not just advance your own goals or sell a product. It’s about the making the meeting experience a quality one and worthy of your time.
This summer, Adam Lashinsky, Senior Editor at Large at Fortune Magazine, moderated a Nielsen panel discussion about how customers use of technology and social media affects traditional retailers. You can watch a sample of this meeting here.