There are a lot of different factors that go into planning the perfect conference. From guest speakers to finding the perfect location to building your swag bags.Every detail matters.And trust us when we tell you that making sure your tech is on point must be at the top of your priority list. Even if you get everything else right, a tech failure is how people will remember your event. Here is a list of the tech you’ll need to ensure your event’s success:
Most hotel and convention center wi-fi connections are not strong enough to handle the pressure large events place upon them. Worse, most of these spaces are built to block outside signals so your attendees will have a difficult time accessing their own cellular signals. It might be expensive, but beefing up your event space’s wi-fi availability is worth every penny you’ll spend on it.
There are several different apps you will want to have downloaded to keep your event running smoothly. Here are a few of them.
Sure, you’ll want to have a printed program–it makes for a great souvenir! An app, however, is important because it will allow you to make changes and updates to the schedule, speaker lineup, and announcements in real time. It also facilitates feedback from your attendees and provides a social outlet for your more introverted and shy guests. You don’t have to build your own app from scratch. Instead, companies like DoubleDutch recommend working with templates. These templates can be customized to fit your event’s needs and branding. They’re also more affordable and save you tons of time.
Thanks to companies like Square, it is now possible to accept credit card payments with smartphones and other mobile devices. This is great because it saves you the hassle of trying to find a way to hook up a credit card processing terminal for attendees who prefer to pay at the door instead of in advance. These companies have also built in delayed payments for when the wi-fi isn’t strong enough to run a sale properly. You can swipe the card and the app saves the data until you can connect the device to the internet.
Even if you used a third party ticketing agent, you’ll need to have a way of scanning people’s passes and tickets at the event itself. Most of the major ticketing outlets have created apps that allow users to scan ticket barcodes and QR codes using the camera on a smart device. Make sure yours is downloaded and functional before the event starts!
The days of using an overhead projector during presentations and talks are mostly over. Today, presenters use programs like PowerPoint and Keynote to put together slide presentations and animations. Your presenters will likely supply their own laptops for this but it is still good to have one on hand that can run all of the major programs and that you know will connect smoothly with the projectors you will also need to supply. Having both a Windows and a Mac laptop on hand for emergencies will help smooth glitches and keep everything moving on time.
You may also have to provide the screens onto which these presentations are projected. Check with the venue beforehand so you’ll know how many you need to rent.
Extra Bits and Bobbles
Most venues will have a very limited number of equipment like chairs, electrical cords, extension cords, microphone and projection cables, etc. You’ll also likely have to provide your own sound equipment like microphones, microphone stands, speakers, mixing boards, etc.
Many presenters will likely want to record their talks and are happy to do so using apps on their own phones. Even so, having recording equipment on hand is a great way to provide each presenter with a professionally mastered copy of their talks and panels. These recordings are also valuable tools for marketing purposes for your future events and for your presenters to use to promote themselves and their work.
It’s also worth considering taking video at each talk, presentation and panel. These videos can be uploaded to sites like YouTube and Vimeo and used for marketing in much the same fashion as the audio recordings.
Live streaming, if you’ve set up a robust enough wi-fi connection, is also a good idea to get more attention for your event. You can set up the stream for free through sites like Twitch or you could set it up on a private server and charge people for at-home access.
Trust us: old school is over. Make sure your event is technically savvy enough to keep up with your competitors.