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Do you hear the noise?

When I look around me, I feel like the world is screaming for more interaction and dialogue in events.  I want to help. So, I created this blog to start the discussion for using technology to create dialogue in events.


Here are some trends that have shaped some of my thinking:

  1. The knowledge gap between the audience and the experts on stage is shrinking. Today’s delegates are more likely to have access to the same tools and information resources as the experts than 5 or 10 years ago.
  2. The scientists have proven that lecturing is an inefficient delivery system for learning. Lecturing persists because it is an efficient way to deliver content to large groups.
  3. Equally important, scientists have proven that passive listening (sitting in a chair twiddling your thumbs) yields less learning and retention than active listening (answering questions, participating in activities, etc).
  4. Research exists in academia proving that audience response keypads and the backchannel (think: twitter) improve learning. 
  5. The technology tools exist today to engage the audience in either structured or unstructured dialogue. 


When events bring together 100, 300, 500 or 2000 of our best customers, employees or association members, I see it is a perfect opportunity to tap into the ideas, expertise and opinions of the many and build a powerful community. Don’t you?


500 Brilliant Minds

Think about your delegates as 500 Brilliant Minds that are ready to share, collaborate and build something special.


This is no easy task for events.  As the groups get larger and larger, it becomes more difficult to organize interaction and dialogue among the participants.  So, as the groups get larger we need to use different approaches for creating and managing communication with these groups.  


Today’s meeting technology tools have the power to connect audiences and engage them in structured and unstructured dialogue. However, these tools are not like the magic beans from the children’s book “Jack in the Beanstalk.” You cannot just plant them in your event and Voila! — interaction happens!  You need to think through objectives, outcomes, processes and obstacles in your planning and design stages to make these technology tools effective.


This is the challenge that we face. The tech tools exist, but we need to discuss how to evolve our planning and design processes to effectively incorporate them. 


That’s how I see it. How do you see it? What else did I miss (or forget)? Do you hear the noise? Should we have a healthy debate?  Do events need more interaction? or is it just me?


What can you do?

I need you to join the conversation. Share your feedback and experiences, challenge my points of view and offer new insights. The goal here is to get as many people as possible commenting – positive and negative – so that people considering these technology tools for their events can benefit from your insights.  I believe that together – we can create better ideas and solutions for how to use technology to create interaction at events.



Written by

Samuel J. Smith is the Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC. He wakes up every morning to save the world from stuffing attendees in chairs for hours on end at events. Oh, and he has small children who usually want some breakfast.