by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Mice Net : June 2009
award winner Either way, the balance of power is shifting, and that’s good. There are plenty of presenters out there who should be voted off the island. Digital people – which will be all people 10 years from now – don’t have the patience for speeches. They’re constantly time-shifting, sitting at the back with device in hand, flicking through a thousand other sources of interest, seeing if there’s something better on. Afterward they’ll ask you to send them the three minute summarised version. When conferences began, there was a happy place called ‘Out of The Office’. That place doesn’t exist any more. And this holds the key to the future of meetings. Because when you spend every waking moment looking at screens and responding to random chatter, it all gets a bit - to use a digital word of the moment - ‘meh’. Consider a current sample of the blandness of on-screen existence. Pizza Hut has just launched Pasta Hut. The web site has buttons wafting over pictures of their pasta, saying ‘taste me’. Click them, and what happens? Words appear on the screen, saying something like ‘mouthwatering meatballs in tomato sauce’. The agency has sold that concept to the client as ‘virtual tasting’. That, pizza people, is not tasting. We’ve known which sense does what since we lived in caves. The invention of the internet doesn’t mean that ‘tasting’ and ‘reading a description’ are the same thing. So it goes for many digital experiences. Second Life, 2007’s big destination for cashed-up corporates wanting to be ‘edgy’, has been revealed for what it is – a sad electronic refuge for the socially maladjusted. The Facebook surge will fade, as the correct answer to ‘What am I doing right now?’ is ‘Tapping on a keyboard, alone.’ ‘Virtual’ means a second-rate replica of reality. A totally digital life is a life of sensory deprivation. After too much of it, people will crave something real. Really real. That’s where we come in. The future of meetings is about delivering what they can’t get online: tangible, emotional, unforgettable experiences. Things that engage all the senses that digital life neglects. A conference must be the antidote to virtual living. We must deliver experiences they’ve never had before, that make them feel more alive. They must be unique to those who actually turned up in person. Unpredictable, ‘you should have been there’ experiences, ones that can’t be recorded and viewed later. If you couldn’t make it, you missed out big time, and too bad. That sense of exclusiveness makes it more special for the people who were there. We’re social animals at heart. We like to run with the herd, to gossip and drink and argue and flirt. Sharing an amazing experience with others is immeasurably better than joining some Facebook group. For a useful parallel, look at the recorded music industry. After decades of riches, it’s all but destroyed by free file sharing. Are musicians out of a job? Quite the reverse. Live music is booming. New festivals appear every weekend. A fair percentage of the crowd isn’t even there for the music. They’re just there to cast off their everydayness and go nuts with their herd. They know a live event has to have life in it. Why must all conferences fit the same template? Why not send your corporate group to spend a week overseas working among the poor? They’d complain all the way there, and come back as a genuine team, having had the experience of their lives. Where do we get the ideas to engage future audiences? The industry is full of brilliant young minds, and the ideas are there already. You’ll find them in the pile marked ‘Too weird or difficult’ in the proposals file. Experiences, not information. That’s what meetings need to stay relevant. And frankly, that sounds like a lot more fun. Ian Whitworth is principal of creative marketing consultancy A Lizard Drinking and an owner of audiovisual group Scene Change. He writes on presentations and communication at www.scenechange.com.au/blog. RESORT GOLD COAST mice.net 37