More interactive events

// Johanna Müdicken

Expectations of events are changing. Participants often, and increasingly, want to be actively involved in them. Digital tools facilitate communication and interaction.

Das Abstimmungstool ist eine der Funktionen von Mentimeter. Photo: Mentimeter

Die Social Wall von im Einsatz. Photo: & Bettina Uhlig

Processes. Digitalisation is opening up new ways of promoting interaction between those in the audience and those on the podium. Digital solutions fit in very well with what delegates want. XING Events’ 2018 study of how conventions and conferences are changing found that three out of four people think digital tools improve the experience of an event.

Social media walls are one option. The organiser begins by creating a hashtag and distributing it. Tweets or Instagram posts with this hashtag are then displayed live on a monitor and/or mobile devices. Among the popular social media walls are, and Tagboard, the basic versions of which are also free. These live feeds can provide an overview and stimulate discussion during breaks. During a session they can provide speakers with feedback. To enable speakers to respond to relevant content quickly enough, a moderator should filter it and pass it on.

Platforms such as eventmobi, Tedme or offer outstanding features. Audience interaction tools like these allow people to ask questions, take part in surveys, make comments or brainstorm together. The virtual activity is displayed on smartphones or tablets and can also be shown on a monitor or large screen. That encourages more introverted participants to get involved as well. Most of these tools are intuitive and easy to use. There is no great technical hurdle to overcome.

Over 25 million people already use the interactive presentation software Mentimeter, according to the company itself. The app of the eponymous Swedish start-up can be called from a browser and activated using a code. Delegates may respond immediately to presentation slides, take part in anonymous votes or quizzes and create word clouds.

“Mentimeter makes it easier to listen and be heard during an event,” explains founder and CEO Johnny Warström. “You hold the attention of your audience during the entire event, increase their level of involvement, inspire them to contribute their ideas and opinions and together create an enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

For speakers and organisers, audience interaction tools offer the opportunity to respond to feedback immediately and generally also to analyse the feedback subsequently. All user data is saved, which can result in data protection issues. When choosing a tool, planners should find out what is saved where – and how clear that is to participants.

Networking remains a fundamental part of events. That’s where matchmaking tools such as Converve, b2match or Swapcard come in. These encourage interaction and are the digital answer to analogue networking. Event Showcase from Ungerboeck uses an algorithm that identifies participants’ interests based primarily on how they use the app’s contents. Speakers, sessions, exhibitors and people with similar interests are then recommended to them on this basis.

Congreet is another app that focuses on networking. Once users have entered their areas of interest in their profile, they receive suggestions about who to contact and add to their network. The more keywords they have in common with these people, the higher they appear in the list of suggestions. “It’s particularly helpful for larger events,” says Congreet founder Alexander Krapp. “Imagine trying to find those people with whom you share interests from among 500 delegates. Without luck and chance, it would be virtually impossible. The suggestions in the app allow you to identify people who it will be worth talking to.”

Some organisers go a step further and use augmented and virtual reality. In Germany agencies such as Demodern promise interactive solutions for events (see page 129). However, special experiences like this are in a price category of their own.