Home' micenet eMag : micent April 2016 Contents ENGAGEMENT | SARAH BROWN
had sat through about six plenary sessions
and 40 stream speakers when it
happened... I had clocked in close to 500
tweets and had covered white papers and
case studies in 140 characters or less. Both
back up battery packs were nearly depleted
and this was it... the closing plenary.
I had over half of the delegates actively
engaged in the social media platforms – the
room was aglow with the soothing light of
smart devices bouncing off the faces of
delegates. From phones to tablets, they had
been tweeting and blogging for two days.
Then. It happened.
A well-known presenter made a statement
that shut down the blue glow faster then a
poor Wi-Fi signal in a venue.
present and no one is even listening?”
No! NO! Who had not informed this
incredible individual that we had an active
and engaged audience? It was a technical
crowd with all the latest technology carrying
enough Wi-Fi strength to run the host city.
I looked to my left and then my right. I
knew the key players online – I had been
talking to them for the past six months in
preparation for this event. No blue light was
lighting their face; instead they were doing
the same thing I was... looking around to see
the reaction of others.
Then it popped up on my screen: “Who is
she looking at?”
Sarah Brown says the best thing to hit events since
LED lighting can fit in the palm of your hand.
THE GLOW OF
Oh NO! I clicked the button – the kill switch for the beautiful blue light. Slowly I raised my eyes
to the inevitable. A pair of eyes looking right at me – the closing speaker was talking about ME!
Didn’t she know who I was? I was the mole. The one who dresses just like them but is never
meant to be acknowledged. I am the one who has been giving directions to the exhibition,
shared media releases and let the PCO know the muffins were a little bit dry at morning tea.
I am the digital voice of the conference and I have just been singled out.
I understood why, however. The presenter is there to engage the audience as well but with
half of them faced down to their technology it appeared they were being rude or not listening,
when in fact, they were very engaged and very much listening to every word she was saying.
Many times they were actually engaging with her through her accounts but she just didn’t know
it yet because she was still on stage. She was being promoted globally but had only started her
This is not to say every conference has an audience actively promoting not only the speaker
and their own presence on the platforms, but as an event organiser, they are also promoting the
brand of your conference.
Promotion doesn’t end when registrations close – it continues days and sometimes months
after the event. Potential sponsors, exhibitors and delegates are monitoring their interest for the
next event in real-time. The regret is felt seeping through the messages they send saying they
should have attended and direct messages to me, sitting in the audience, asking the dates of
the next conference.
I understand for those of us who were told to pay attention to the teacher and keep your eyes
to the front of the class it may appear that smart devices are a distraction, but it really depends
on what your audience is doing with the device. Your voice will reach farther than a plenary
room when the organiser has been engaging with them. You may not receive the immediate
response that you once had standing at the front of the room but it could very well be that it is a
little delayed (most likely until you get back to your own device and see the new followers you
So the next time you walk into your plenary session and see the glow of devices just thank
your lucky stars... actually just thank the digital stars sitting in the crowd. After all, those blue
lights could be working on getting you the next gig. m
Sarah Brown is the digital marketing specialist at Big Brown Chair Media. She can be contacted via
email - firstname.lastname@example.org .
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