This article is part of our article series Meeting the Future about the future of conferences.
By Shuli Golovinski, Newtonstrand CEO, Industry Speaker, Visionary and Author
In the same way as the Internet has progressed from web 1.0 with a mass of information available but as a one-way street, to web 2.0 where we started to see social media, blogging and more interaction, meetings and conferences are also progressing in a similar way.
Events 1.0 were our first form of meetings and conferences with expert speakers talking to a mass of people and the whole event thoroughly planned out along an education format. Over the years we have come into Events 2.0 where we have encouraged more networking between delegates, providing a balance of education and networking at an event.
We currently wonder what will be involved in Web 3.0, when will it arrive and what technologies will be involved? We do know that it is likely there will be many changes and developments before it emerges. Similarly, what is Event 3.0, what changes will we see and does it currently exist in our events?
What is Event 3.0 and is it here?
It can be argued that our conferences and meetings are already experiencing parts of Event 3.0. It will be a natural transgression over the following years, starting from now, into a new meeting format for our industry.
As we try and cater for the current and changing needs of the younger generation already in our industry – Generation Y, we then come upon a whole new generation who are not yet of age to be attending business events: Generation Z. These generations are totally unlike our traditional congress and events members. The younger generations are very technology savvy, are social media literate, have short attention spans and have a high degree of knowledge absorption.
The education format
Delegates today can immediately search for information on any topic they desire to learn more about that would normally be covered at a snail’s pace during a presentation. Attendees now seriously debate whether it is worth coming to the event where they could find the information more easily and quickly in their own time. They will simply not tolerate sitting for hours in a conference room to be spoon-fed information; they need something entirely different to enjoy their experience at an event.
With new scheduling technology all delegates can get involved and bring attendee generated content to the event. With a Chance2Speak* platform they can book a speaking slot in advance and present on an industry topic of their choice. Colleagues can decide for themselves which subject they want to hear about, who they want to listen to and have the chance to voice their own questions and opinions. It is no longer about just listening to known industry experts.
The dominant theory among the younger generations is that while gaining access to all of the new information is great, it is equally important to find other people whose skills could benefit your own in a professional way.
The structured networking track
Structured networking is becoming increasingly essential to Generation Y and will play a major role in events for when Generation Z become active participants. Typically at a normal conference or event, networking and coffee breaks are spread throughout the day. Although these breaks allow people to move around they are far too short to allow delegates to have meaningful conversations.
With a structured networking track delegates can use technology to start to network on-line prior to the event and pre-schedule meetings for during the event. Delegates should have the Chance2Meet* and be allowed to have 1-1 meetings with speakers, experts, press and colleagues as well as suppliers. There should be adequate time during the event set aside for these meetings as part of a structured networking track in the official programme.
For today’s attendees an event’s success is measureable by the networking and the knowledge they gain.
Introducing the Business & Fun Framework
If we work to correctly address all the wants and needs of Generations Y and Z, the format of the meetings industry will be entirely different to what it is now. It is up to us in the industry now to help develop the future of the meetings industry.
The new Business & Fun Framework* at our events brings all the networking and learning elements together to create an overall enjoyable and well-informed experience for the delegate. With the use of open forums, panels and speaker platforms, we will allow everyone the chance to contribute and be understood. With a new focus on attendee generated content at our events, we will let our delegates choose what they want to learn and hear about. Bringing a structured networking track to our conferences will provide the opportunity for attendees to make genuine future business connections.
It is up to us in the industry to develop the new formats needed in events by creating an incredible experience for traditional members who have been in the industry for many years as well as opening our meetings and networking possibilities for the new younger members, ensuring we meet the needs of all delegates beyond all expectations.
*Change2meet, Change2speak and Business & Fun Framework are services provided by Newtonstrand.
Do you have an opinion on how the world of conference is changing? Please share in the comments below. If you want to share your thoughts in a blog post please get in touch.