Does Twitter Use Increase Attendee Interaction?

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Back in pre social media and ubiquitous WiFi days, yours truly was one of the first students in his college classes to bring a laptop to lectures. After struggling for years with various note-taking “solutions” — all of which eventually required digitization — this was an attempt to make note taking a bit less troublesome.

Holy wow did it make a difference. I was able to look up terms using the built-in dictionary, compare notes from previous classes and didn’t have to worry about missing anything, as I could touch type. While I didn’t have ready access to the internet, I did occasionally have instant messaging capabilities with people in the same room, and used it to discuss ideas, poke fun, and generally carry on side conversations related to the course material.

Now it seems my experience over a decade ago has been proven to work for many people. According to Jeff Hurt, “It’s official! Research now shows that when people use Twitter during classes, they are more engaged and learn more.”

Studies like those referenced in Hurt’s blog make us wonder why so many people still ask that cell phones be turned off during presentations, event planners don’t deem IT important enough to spend money on and there are still such a small percentage of live Twitter users during conferences. Yes, it is surely important to pay attention to what’s happening on stage, but the real goal of a great speaker to is to get audience thinking, not just memorizing and analyzing later.

But getting people into the fold isn’t always easy. At our Gangplank office, we have a weekly brownbag featuring a different local industry leader every week. Talks run about 30 minutes, with another 15-20 for questions. To help those who can’t attend in person, Stephanie Liebold of Bold Avenue tweets summaries, retweets audience questions, and acts as an amplifier for great content.

Newbies can and do follow her example, giving the speakers on stage the exposure their content deserves and the interaction the information necessitates instead of next-day blog posts. Those uncomfortable with live tweeting can follow along until they are ready, and can jump into conversations at any time.

Good luck integrating Twitter into your next event. Let us know if you have any questions!

When Attendees Attack

An angry, confused attendee—or worse, a group—isn’t something vendors or other event staff want to deal with. Instead of hiring extra security, consider proactive methods of controlling the crowds.

One queue, multiple registration terminals
While Americans seem to understand the concept of lines, it can be confusing as to which of the many to get into. Should they get into the registration line, the prepaid line, the lost ticket line or the VIP line? Inevitably, one line always moves slower than the other, frustrating everyone.

To combat this, use stanchions to mark off a single-queue system and have this entrance clearly marked. One line gives the check-in stations far more flexibility, and allows event organizers to process attendees faster, regardless of admission type (general, VIP, speaker, lost ticket, etc.).

Misspellings, Typos and Glitches, oh my!
No one like to walk around with a name tag that’s incorrect. Systems like ours can track attendees as they check in, correct, add or delete registrants right from the check-in table and make last-minute guests feel like they signed up in plenty of time.

Silverlight-powered software with fast label printers go a long way when put in the right hands. Why more conferences aren’t using similar technology baffles us.

Apple fans may be willing to wait for iPads, but most people abhor such.

But it’s certainly not foolproof, as slow printers, underpowered computers and inept staff can make this experience horrible pretty quickly. It’s also necessary to have software that works online and off, something we appreciated when the Microsoft Azure server decided to not work last Leap Day. Proper design saved us—although we were without some of the automagical digital signage and iPhone-enabled, scanned check ins—as we were able to manually check people in and print their badges in a fraction of the time it would take to sort through badges and correct errors.

Print On Demand
We’ve been to many conferences that lay out badges beforehand, and while we know this is the most efficient way to get pre-printed badges to attendees, we think the entire process is could use a lot of work.

Checking attendees in and printing their badge in under 30 seconds is something any event organizer can appreciate, right?