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How to Set the Interaction Dial

Endless PowerPoint presentations and stale ham sandwiches have been making attendees comatose at meetings and events for decades now. While many event organizers recognize the need for more interaction, few know where to start.

Most leap for technology tools and new formats.

By immediately starting with technology solutions, you risk over-engineering OR under-engineering your interactive experiences.

Ask The Key Question

In my opinion, there is a better way. I prefer to start with this seemingly simple question: What are attendees supposed to do as a result of this interaction (or session)?

Here are some possible responses:

  • Stay awake & not fall asleep
  • Stop playing with their mobile gadgets
  • Ask questions
  • Answer a question
  • Give their opinion
  • Learn a new skill
  • Embrace the organizational change
  • Feel better
  • Accept an invitation to meet a sales rep
  • Reinforce product benefits
  • Experience the brand
  • Find 5 new association members
  • Purchase your products
  • Go change the world
  • Tell 47 people that your company rocks!
  • Create 25 new ideas
  • Be a part of the grass roots effort to ______
  • Change their way that they work

Set the Interaction Dial

I view answering the question above as setting the interaction dial, because it sets a target for your interactive experience. Also, interactions have different intensity levels. Some interactive solutions are really simple (like having attendees ask questions). While others are complex  (like brainstorming with 500 people) and require additional planning, design, session time and sophisticated tech tools. By setting the target – you make it easier to match the interactive experience to your desired outcome.

After you set the interaction dial, don’t be shy. Get your stakeholders involved in creating a solution. Ask the speakers, facilitators, meeting designers, A/V team and technology services providers to help you. These are smart people. Don’t be afraid to use them.

Bottom Line

When you are planning interactions – start by thinking through the action that you want attendees to take afterward. Then, work on matching the right processes, event formats and interactive technology to your objective.

Where will you set the interaction dial?

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.