When I was a child, my mother had my “color matching” evaluated. This is the tedious process of putting color swatches next to your face to determine if you are fall, winter, spring or summer – or rather, if you look best in warm or cool colors. It was determined that I was a fall, as a warmer color palette tends to make my eyes pop more and looks best against my skin tone. When I wear these colors, I feel good about myself.

There’s no denying that the colors you surround yourself with in your day-to–day life can impact how you present yourself, act, and feel. As with the colors that we associate with different seasons, we can also relate them to our mood and how they affect us and those around us; warmer colors may feel welcoming, and bright, bold colors may elicit a sense of excitement and outgoing enthusiasm.

The same is true for an event space. The color used directly impacts the look, feel and the reactions of your attendees as they enter a space. There have been studies done that color also influences cognition and mood. Although the effect of your color choice may be subconscious to your participants, determining color enhancement should be based on what best suits your meeting’s goals.

Choose Your Colors with Purpose

Having your meeting’s message retained is key, and all five of our senses play a big part. However, with sight attributed for 83% for adult learning, color clearly can have a significant impact. Color assists an attendee to remember their environment, which can be very effective in a learning or educational setting.

It is a shift of thinking, since in many cases, companies choose company branding to be displayed during their meetings. Depending on those colors, it may have an adverse impact on their participants’ cognitive skills. You need to make sure color is chosen purposefully and relates to the message intended, rather than solely maintaining company branding.

Ready to Experiment? We Can Help

There are several colors in the rainbow, and with LED Lights, we can create most of them at moment’s notice. For your next meeting, try blue if you are having a brainstorming meeting and want to increase creative thinking. Or maybe, if you are just having a long day of meetings and want to make sure your attendees do not have the after lunch slow down, think yellow. Keeping the room bright will increase attention and optimism as the day comes to an end.

Curious to learn more? Check out my on-demand Professional EDge webinar session for an in-depth discussion on using psychology principles in the event space.

Pride Month celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place more than 50 years ago. On the first anniversary of Stonewall, a peaceful protest was organized that would become an annual event celebrating LGBTQ+ rights, before blossoming into the large-scale Pride events and parades we see globally today.

As with so many events this year, the global pandemic resulted in many postponed or cancelled Pride celebrations. Additionally, the tragic murder of George Floyd has refocused some efforts normally put forth for Pride into protests demanding change, such as the recent march in Los Angeles in support of Trans people of color.

Action creates change

The progress we have made since Stonewall would not have happened without action. The action you are seeing in the anti-racism protests across the globe today, will transform into lasting change, just as they did on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

I’ve witnessed a lot of that change, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, and I look forward to the day that equal rights on every level are simply considered human rights. I’m happy today to work for a company that understands this. PSAV supports four business resource groups (BRGs):

  • Black and African Americans of PSAV
  • Pride at PSAV
  • Veterans at PSAV
  • Women of PSAV

The BRGs serve as internal supportive communities, providing personal connections and affiliation for its member​s who identify with or support others similar to themselves, and providing opportunities for growth and conversations amongst the larger organization.

This was recently echoed by our CEO Mike McIlwain in a statement on Diversity and Inclusion that encouraged our team members to reach out to the BRG heads to ask how they can help and better educate their teams, peers, friends and family. I think asking questions and truly listening as someone tells you about their experiences is an action anyone can take to create lasting change.

As the executive sponsor of the Pride at PSAV BRG, I’m happy to share my coming out story to get the conversation started. When I was younger, I thought, okay, all I have to do is say this once in my life, right?  To my parents, closest friends?  Just once?  Not a chance.  I started with my parents, who were compassionate and supportive, but as it turns out, you must come out over and over and over again. New job? Coming out. New friends? Coming out. New brother-in-law? Coming out.

As I’ve gotten older, my view of those conversations has altered. No longer do I view them as “checking the boxes” conversations, or answers just to fill someone’s curiosity. I view them as a chance to educate, to inform, to help break down a stereotype they might have had about the LGBTQ+ community. Twenty years on, I find those conversations enriching.  I feel proud of the woman I am today, and I feel honored sharing my coming out stories with others who ask.

“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”– Harvey Milk

What I have come to learn, is that as a part of a diverse group in society, it is our responsibility to educate others, in other words, “be out.” If someone has a question about your race, gender identification, religion or sexual orientation, educate them. It might be what they need in that moment to change for the better. Don’t rely on others to do the work.

Get to know your neighbors, co-workers and customers. Talk to them, know their story, and in turn share yours. It will only make us better humans. Now my question to you is, whose story are you going to learn about today?

A Rise in Hybrid Meetings and Events

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges to the event industry. But, with crisis, often comes innovation. As automobile manufacturers have quickly changed their business model from building cars to building ventilators, the events industry is responding with different ways to use technology to connect organizations and people.

One of the impacts of the pandemic is that people everywhere have become more comfortable with virtual technology. Our children and teachers have adapted from classroom instruction to online learning. Our colleagues kept collaboration and teamwork alive using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and a host of other applications. While the Millennial generation has grown up with FaceTime and video chat, now even my 76-year-old mother has become proficient at setting up family Zoom meetings. These new realities are propelling the use of virtual technologies forward.

You may recall after 9/11 and the Great Recession when planners, venues and technology companies expected video conferencing to become a part of the new norm and invested significant capital in that direction. We learned quickly that the industry at large was not ready to make the move to this type of virtual approach. We underestimated the importance of human connection. The ability to read body language and meet face-to-face is important. The opportunity to socialize before and after meetings is crucial. Technology can never fully replace face-to-face communication, but it can become a tool to help us through challenging times, and the answer might just be a combination of in-person meetings connected by technology.

Things are different now than in the aftermath of 9/11 or the Great Recession. Great advances have been made over the past decade in technology, hardware, connection speeds and the use of the Cloud to enable virtual events. Most importantly, meeting and event participants are now more comfortable using technology to connect virtually. COVID-19 has prepared us for a technological pivot in the meeting industry.

Humans, whether Millennials or Baby Boomers, are social people.  We must meet, in-person and often to create true connections.

Hybrid meetings allow us to connect event participants while simultaneously providing piece of mind. In-person meetings will evolve to become more inclusive. While just a few months ago, a venue may have welcomed 500 people into a ballroom for a general session, the opportunity now exists to welcome 50 people into a more intimate setting in 10 rooms that can be spread out around the world. Connecting rooms or venues with virtual technology will allow this to happen. It will also allow options for participants who may be concerned about their health or have a pre-existing condition.

Additionally, as small, mid-sized and even large companies have become accustomed to employees working from home, our role in connecting people will be even more important. Square, Twitter and Nationwide are a sample of some of the organizations who plan to continue to offer remote working arrangements. This will present a new opportunity for venues to sell space so that team members of companies who have left the brick and mortar office behind can come together to meet. Working from home can be isolating and the need for team members to create face-to-face connections will increase.

This has created a tremendous opportunity for planners, venues, and technology companies to work together to meet these needs. It is our job to educate the industry about the possibilities of coupling in-person meetings with virtual technology to create hybrid events. Our role in connecting people is suddenly more important than ever. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that even though we can work virtually we crave social interaction. Our job is working together to make that happen for our clients.

Hint: It’s not about the platform

Over the last two months (though it certainly feels much longer), our industry has frantically been pivoting live events to virtual event formats. For many, this meant rapidly researching a vast array of streaming providers, web conference solutions, and virtual event platforms.

In the process, it’s also meant a lot of trial and error. How many of you quickly launched a web conference for hundreds of participants, only to realize that the platform alone doesn’t address everything you need to achieve your desired meeting outcomes?

In the rush to virtual, many of us have lost track of the most critical step in the process – event design! Here’s a reminder of two critical principles to consider when designing your virtual event.

1. A virtual event is not a direct translation of a live event

Zoom fatigue is real. If it’s not already a diagnosable condition, we’re probably not far off from seeing it in medical textbooks. With unlimited online and at-home distractions, it takes a different kind of focus to engage in virtual events. Coupled with the lack of visual or physical breaks attendees would typically have in a live setting, the ability to overcome these distractions can be overwhelming without the right balance of high-stimulation and lull time.

Second, it’s more challenging to establish emotional and attitudinal connections across cyber space. The networking that typically happens more serendipitously in a live environment must be designed with purpose in a digital environment.

2. You can warp time and space

We all struggle with attention spans in digital environments. But unlike the time or space restrictions you have in a live event setting, you can be more flexible with virtual events.

Engagement doesn’t need to happen at a specific time and can be stretched to meet the needs of your audience. Leverage the freedom of access and community building tools across time zones to meet participants where they are – delivering content when your attendees need it, and how they need it. Content such as on-demand video sessions or simu-live can open new opportunities for engagement with presenters and learning opportunities.

As the global event industry enters the recovery stage, there will be an ongoing need to engage remote audiences – either completely virtually or in a hybrid setting. Put the principles of event design first before considering the delivery platform and consider partnering with someone who can help guide you through the design process and create an experience that will be sure to meet your desired outcomes.

Our team has created virtual and hybrid solutions cultivated from years of experience. Connect with us to see how we can assist with your event design.

When it’s time to select your venue, a site visit is one of the most critical steps. Not only do you get to physically step in your space and imagine your event coming to life, it’s a chance to ask the most important questions with your potential venue team.

Unfortunately, so many of us are busy with the details of the space contracts and food and beverage minimums, that our time with AV providers is often cut short. On your next site visit, be sure to squeeze in some time with your AV partner and ask these questions to ensure a successful event.

What would you recommend to make a greater impact with my budget?

If you only ask one question, this is it.  As planners, of course we have ideas right out the gate with an inspiration board – but no one knows the space better than an on-site event experience team. During your site visit, discuss your vision and ask what they would do to make it work within your plan and budget.

Because they have worked so many events within the very space you’re standing in, they can take the groundwork of your initial plan and elevate it – whether it’s rigging screens differently for new vantage points or trying new seating levels. This discussion can change the whole direction of your event and catapult it to new heights.

What other services do you offer?

These days, AV companies do so much more than just audio-visual. With teleconferencing, content design, and event internet, the same company will likely be able to provide you with almost everything you need for your event. So, before you start the taxing process of looking around for extra technology quotes, be sure to explore the opportunity of leveraging your in-house partner.

Are there any exciting new technologies I can employ?

It’s the old adage of “if you don’t ask, you don’t know.” Technology changes rapidly, and there may be something new on the horizon offered by your event partner. Maybe it’s a new mobile engagement app that could be a great way to show meeting value to your stakeholders. Your provider will be eager to talk to you about everything they have – you just have to ask!

Who will be my point of contact, and how hands-on will they be?

Don’t wait until you’ve already signed a contract to ask this question (or worse, until there’s a day-of crisis). Ask up-front how big their team is, and who will handle which parts of your meeting. It’s also a good idea to find out if the entire team will be on-site, or if there is an off-site team (for example, in the case of internet), so you know exactly what you’re dealing with going into your meeting and who’s on first.

What information do you need from me?

Communication is a two-way street, and your event partner may have some questions for you as well that will spark some ideas. Be sure to open up the conversation and make sure they have a full understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish up-front to avoid complications later on.

Takeaways

Arming yourself with these questions for your event partner during your site visit can instill confidence in your decision with venue selection, and ensure a seamless event from the start with a team that understands your goals.

After an exciting year, it’s that time again to consider trends we can expect to see moving forward. Advances in our industry move as quickly as the technology that powers it, and vigilance is important. We polled our experts and these are four technology-powered trends you need to follow for 2020.

1. Audience Engagement

Audience engagement technologies are becoming more mature in the event services space. In the past, one or two (single function) engagement devices may have been used to deliver presentations to audiences in real time. Now, this trend is evolving into sophisticated systems of engagement devices. For example, polling, note-taking, productivity, and communication can all be part of one suite. Expect to adopt engagement systems that allow the presenter and audience to connect authentically and create shared group experiences.

2. Adaptive Spaces

We are seeing a shift: meeting planners are now considering non-traditional environments for both their character and economy. But planners also want their spaces to be flexible enough to suit various logistical needs. Well-designed spaces can do both. By thinking about how people interact, spaces can be adapted for multiple uses. Planners can anticipate solutions that seamlessly facilitate intimacy, comfort, collaboration, and the ability to share content from a variety of channels.

3. Event Measurement

It is no longer acceptable to only evaluate a meeting based on people’s recollections. Today’s digital services collect useful statistics in real time so we can see what people are doing in the moment. This allows us to evaluate the efficacy of an event plan, and consistently make improvements based on the analytics. In the future, technologies that provide additional ways to capture event data and provide even clearer insights will be on the rise.

4. Power Everywhere

Planners and attendees alike need access to power sources to keep their devices charged and ward off potential anxiety about dying batteries. Meeting planners should be aware that visible, plentiful power options are going to reduce anxiety, add value, and contribute to productivity. In addition to power strips, be sure to include plenty of wireless induction chargers, USB-A and USB-C chargers, and mobile charging stations.

Stay Connected

As technology evolves and we learn more, best practices evolve as well. These are only a handful of exciting trends in our industry that can be addressed with well-designed solutions. For more technology trends and insights, keep the conversation alive with your technology solutions provider.

In the first post of our series on meeting Wi-Fi, we broke down bandwidth and the myths around how much you actually need for your meetings. But without a quality infrastructure, bandwidth would never reach the devices – laptops, tablets, smartphones – that we all use. In this second part of our series, we’re looking at infrastructure and the questions you should be asking regarding this often-overlooked aspect of internet services.

At home, internet bandwidth arrives on a single cable, usually in the basement or somewhere else convenient for the cable guy. Then, to actually make use of the bandwidth, you need some electronics – at the very least, a Wi-Fi router. If you happen to have a larger home, you’ll know that the Wi-Fi router that comes with your cable subscription doesn’t cover the whole house, and more electronics (in the form of Wi-Fi boosters) are needed to make things work properly.

Internet infrastructure in a meeting or event venue is the same, although due to the size of the building and high numbers of people, we need significantly more electronics to make things happen. In fact, venues sometimes make the mistake of upgrading bandwidth without the infrastructure to deliver it, which results in a higher bandwidth bill for the venue but no better experience for the guest.

The most important aspects of infrastructure to understand are the wireless access points – we like to call them WAPs, for fun. Ironically enough, these aren’t wireless. These are cabled to the rest of the infrastructure and create the last “hop” wirelessly from themselves to and from your device.

There are two important aspects to understand about WAPs:

  • How many there are in a space?
  • How old they are?

Taken together, these two pieces of info determine the Wi-Fi capacity of the infrastructure or in other words, how many devices you can put in that space without overwhelming it. Often hidden for aesthetic purposes, it’s hard to know from a site visit how many WAPs there are or how old they are – so this is an important question! One of the easiest things you can do is ask for the access point layout diagram. Every venue should have one, and this will give you all the information you need.

The question I already hear you all asking next is, “OK then, how many WAPs are enough?” Well, like a lot of IT stuff, it depends. Fortunately, we’re here to help with that and other specific questions you may have, regardless of the venue you select.

Remember:

  • Ask for the AP layout diagram and the age of the access points. Your trusted techie will be able to make a call on whether the infrastructure will be able to support your needs.
  • If you find inadequate infrastructure (or bandwidth) at the perfect venue for your next event – don’t worry!  Both can be successfully augmented given a little advanced notice (and we’d be happy to help).
  • Internet@psav.comwill answer all of your internet-related questions, regardless of venue.