June 9, 2021 | By Warwick Merry

When it comes to event technology, online or offline, it can be very confusing. There is some amazing tech out there and every week it seems something new comes along. But no matter how much tech there is, it always seems to only do 80 percent of what you need.

The secret to getting the best technology for your event is to remember the OFU – shorthand for Operating Flesh Unit. This refers to both the event organiser and the delegates who will use the event software on the day.

We are fortunate to have some amazing software out there. As someone with 10 years’ experience working in IT, I know that during the design process, sometimes the end user is forgotten. What is intuitive and obvious for an experienced IT veteran is often confusing for someone new to a system or event technology.

So this means our technology suppliers need a few key things:

  • Up to date “How to” videos for each part of your system that are friendly and interesting
  • Support processes that are geared towards the end user
  • Clear focus on the outcome the event participants are trying to achieve rather than focussing on the technology
  • Honesty in what your technology can or can’t do (the fact that the term Vaporware exists is concerning)
  • Timely communication from the supplier to their prospects and customers
  • A roadmap with conservative time frames on what changes are being made to the software

Talking with a couple of conference organisers about their preferred event software, the key focus was always on the relationships. One of them mentioned a really good system that they don’t use as the supplier kept promising alterations but never delivered and never gave updates on what was happening. “We can’t trust what is happening,” said the organiser.

Other comments about tech systems are that they are too hard or too confusing. For delegates and organisers, the principle of “Make it easy” has to be kept in mind. Forever clicking back and forth is frustrating and it also means that the option of “click here to leave” becomes more and more tempting.

So when you are looking for software and systems, keep your focus on the OFU. They need to trust that the system will work, that it will be easy to use and there is support available if needed. Sometimes it will mean the best tech is minimal tech. So many great events have been built and executed using nothing more powerful than a spreadsheet and online meeting software. Event tech developers should keep that in mind.

Warwick Merry CSP, CVP is a Certified Speaking Professional, Dual Certified Virtual Presenter and Past National President of Professional Speakers Australia. He hosts and produces online events. Discover more at WarwickMerry.com.