VoxR beim Digitalgipfel

The VoxR Event-Manifesto 2018

Less gag-tech - more real impact

Events 2018 will stay a) Relevant. b) Complex.

In 2017, we conducted hundreds of consultations on the hows and whys of the best possible event impact achievable with given resources.

Also, we attended dozens of events with VoxR as "silent observers" - and precisely because we attended as simple "guests", we were able to take a rather "objective" look at what works well and why.

From all that, we developed the VoxR Event 2018 Manifest:

5 things to neglect in 2018
3 things to boost impact in 2018

Here's to it benefiting your plans in 2018!

5 things to neglect in 2018

1. VR Glasses

Everyone talks about "Virtual Reality" which in the event industry often comes down to VR glasses.  VR glasses allow the viewer to immerse themselves from their current physical location into another place, virtual reality.

VR glasses are one of the hyped event gadgets 2018 - but are they useful?

We were able to give them a whirl during the 2017 Association Info Day in Berlin. Our conclusion: A really nice gadget and really fun, too! But fun blurs the lines between trade fair and funfair.

Context is important here: For the mechanical engineer, for people in high-tech medicine and many other professional fields, VR glasses offer real value. But not everything that makes sense elsewhere is appropriate at an event; Choose your playing field wisely.

If you've already "bought" VR, why not implement it: it IS great fun. If you're currently without, though:

In 2018, VR glasses are (still) a black hole regarding time, budget and energy spent in event planning.
A set of bells and whistles you can save on!

2. "Apps"

If everyone talks about "digitisation," then you have to be "somehow" digitally connected to your participants, no? - Our 2017 research shows two clear trends:

  • One half says, "we need this". The pull will, therefore, remain alive and kicking in 2018, although most of those who speak up in favour of apps have NOT yet used an app themselves. Rather, what they describe to us is being conscious of said "pull".
  • The other half talking about apps HAS, in fact, used an app before. With little exception, this half reports download rates of 20-30% and does not want to use ANY app in 2018.

Our guess:

In 2011, every corner shop and startup felt the need to have an "APP" presence. The common conclusion: Every event needs an app, period.

By 2018, however, nobody suffers a lack of Apps on their mobile phones.

So, if you want to save time, effort and budget, ask yourself what good an app does your audience. Does the end justify the means?

If you (like most) just want to digitise your agenda and distribute speaker information: No app needed, VoxR Info is up to the task.

3. Video

Video has been one of the hypes of the event industry for years. And indeed, video has had and still has its justification and purpose. Content and substantive issues aside, video had two main advantages:

  • The element of surprise ("wow, a video")
  • Displaying strength and innovation ("wow, they know - and can do! - video!")

The effort, time and coordination required to create a video may well pay off.

Here is the "but":

2018 sees 5-year-olds editing video sequences on their iPad. Just "having" a video is simply not hip anymore.

Therefore, while the effort involved won't lessen, at least not significantly, videos for presentations will inevitably lose effectiveness. Different rules apply as regards videos MARKETING the event and COVERING the event. These can still be rewarding if you use them to

  • market your topic, department or event (for this or the following year).
  • "expand" the event's reach to non-participants.

Videos that are meaningful in content and easy to make are therefore still profitable. However, 2018 will see the sun setting, and setting fast, on video's days in the sun.

4. WiFi

Every organizer knows the feeling: You "have to" offer WiFi, unless you want to find yourself:

  • being considered as "non-digital" and potentially
  • shunned by subscribers or - worse still - being scolded in social networks

There's light at the end of that tunnel: in 2018 you don't (usually) need WiFi to provide internet access, mobile networks are more than sufficient. Better yet, in 80% of all cases, they surpass WiFi regarding performance, as we clearly determined during our tests at numerous events in 2017.

The collective mood is turning its back on WiFi - rendering it very much "out" of the picture (!)

Wait, what? That doesn't sound quite right, not to mention goes against all of our instincts. On closer inspection, however, we will find:

In 2011, most of us were asking for the all-famous "WLAN Voucher" at hotel receptions.

In 2018, WiFi is no longer needed.
Today, everyone and their grandmother has a flat rate.

Are there exceptions? Yes, absolutely. Naturally, this is a highly relevant topic for us at VoxR. If you're feeling the dread of it all: Get in touch. We are happy to consult you free of charge (as mentioned, VoxR doesn't usually require WiFi)!

5. Prezi

"PowerPoint, be gone!"  Most organisers have heard the story or even told it themselves. Doesn't it almost sound too good to be true, though? Prezi, an online software that magics topic transitions into a "fancier", a "flowing" user experience.

As an event moderator, I was lucky enough to sit through both Powerpoint and Prezi presentations in 2017. I experienced and compared them side by side, coming to life on stage. You guessed it:

  • It does not matter what tool you implement. Both PowerPoint and Prezi deliver excellent presentations. And abysmal presentations.

In 2018, Prezi is neither new or hip,
nor is it a magic cure to turn bad presentations into crowd favourites.

If you are already a Prezi user: Good for you. It's a great tool!

If you aren't: Save yourself the time and effort - Powerpoint makes for outstanding presentations!

Now, if neither Prezi, nor apps or videos will make for a great event ... what to do?

Think ...

MORE: 3 things for more event impact in 2018

1. Creating value

It sounds incredibly trite, but trust us on this one:

In 2018, valuable content will become even more critical.

The reason: With gag-tech going flat in a hurry (see above) content takes centre stage once more. 

And rightfully so: good, compelling content is out there. Hunting it down is not without effort, but the investment in time and money is next to zero:

1. Before you start planning, just ask yourself and significant project partners this:

"What exactly should the audience take home from the event, on both an emotional and a practical level?"

Prepare to spend some time on this question, as it will automatically have you define value for YOURSELF. The changes you create in the mind of the audience through your event are your VALUE.

2. Equally relevant, your audience wants value, too. Contemplate this:

"What can we GIVE to our audience? What fears can we minimize or take away altogether, what hope can we give to them? "

Give, and you will be given in return. If you pay attention to your audience, if you consider their needs, know where they come from, and show it - they, in turn, will take your event goals seriously.

2. Simplicity

The world is complicated enough. Ten years after the iPhone's market release, even German banks are promoting a "simplified tomorrow". They're stating the obvious:

2018 sees a collective longing for simplicity.

The reason is evident: smartphones are amazing and omnipresent gurus of simplified processes. They teach us annoyance with cumbersome processes, including events, because we know from daily experience that things can be (made) so simple.

Enter, a vast opportunity: As the world gets more and more complex, events where logistics, processes and structures stay clear and concise will make an impact.

Simplicity is work, but, with an eye on the audience, easy enough to implement:

  • Are you well signposted? Would a stranger be able to find your event? How about the workshop rooms? Are you quite certain? Cast an intern to play the part and test away!
  • Is it quite necessary to collect 1000 personal particulars at registration? Would an email address, correct salutation and a surname suffice?
  • Does your conference folder need to be 15-paper strong? Do you even need a conference folder at all? (Both agenda and information can be provided via the VoxR Info module).

The smoother the event setup, the better the feedback will be!

3. Interaction

We would not be VoxR if we did not believe in the significance of interacting with your audience. Thankfully, more and more organisers wake up to the revelation that top-down PowerPoint is the equivalent of a lullaby, thanks to a cultural transformation:

Confucius may have been aware that the most efficient way to mediate topics is by involving the audience.

But 2018, with WhatsApp and ten years of social media in Germany, brings to light a second truth:

Attendees are used to exchanging ideas all day long via WhatsApp, Facebook, Slack or Yammer, so sitting down to LISTEN for extended periods has become neigh unmanageable.

In 2018, Top-Down will be perceived as nothing short of "annoying".

You can gazette the decline of the West, fully realising that doing so has yet to impress the West in the slightest. Instead, it pays off to bring the inevitable interaction into the event and make it work for you.

Will it, though, work for you? Yes, it will! We dare to speak our mind, basing our opinions on three years of hands-on involvement in event engagement with Voxr.org. We had front-row seats to a wide range of industries: from mechanical and electrical engineering to automobiles, health, pharmaceuticals, consulting, foodstuffs, all the way to politics and culture. In summary:

Active engagement works wonders to get audiences "hooked". You're welcome.

Over to you!

Thus concluding our observations and our forecast on the 2018 event season, we would like to hear from YOU: Do you agree? Did we catch them all?
Share your point of view in the comment section below!

Tim Schlüter

Tim Schlüter came from the television moderation (NDR, ARD) into the event industry. Looking for interaction tools, he couldn't find what he was looking for and started VoxR. In addition to his job at VoxR, he advises large and small companies, government agencies and associations on event and interaction design. Every now and then he also moderates selected events: timschlueter.com