To the Point

All Tech, All the Time

How do we keep it from being too much, too fast?

Do you remember the world before smartphones, before the cloud, before high-speed Internet was an absolute necessity, before virtual and hybrid meetings? I’m not talking the dinosaur age here (although good luck trying to explain that to your second-grader, as a colleague of mine recently attempted – and failed). After all, it was only six years ago that the first iPhone was introduced.

But with so many incredible technological advances in recent years, it’s difficult to imagine our lives — not to mention our meetings — without them. We rely so much on technology that it’s hard to believe it could ever fail us. Yet that’s exactly what happened in August when software problems at the NASDAQ Stock Market caused trading to shut down for three hours. No buys, no sells. Just darkness in markets around the world.

Talk about a stark reminder of how fragile even the most important technology systems in the world can be. NASDAQ got back on its feet in a matter of hours, in enough time to resume trading the same day – but if a technology glitch takes down your face-to-face or virtual meeting, three hours can be an eternity; or, more directly, a lost opportunity.

It reminds me of PCMA Convening Leaders 2012 in San Diego, where one of our General Session speakers — gamification guru Jane McGonigal — addressed attendees live via remote. That was Plan A, of course. But there also was a Plan B, in case we lost her audio at the last minute but had video. There was a Plan C in case we lost video but had audio. And there was a Plan D in case we lost both.

In the end, the presentation went off without a hitch. But there were plenty of technology glitches that could have disrupted our General Session and denied attendees the opportunity to learn from a true innovator. So, yes, it’s important to take advantage of new technology to help you reach your events’ goals — as long as you don’t dive in headfirst without testing the waters, or having a solid backup plan.

Do you struggle to keep up with always-changing, always-improving technology? It seems once we figure out a new system or new version or new app, there’s already a newer one on the market. To help you stay on top of your game, we’re planning several education sessions at Convening Leaders 2014 that will focus on the latest high-tech developments and what they can mean for your meetings. Even better, there will be many opportunities for hands-on learning. Registration for the big event is now open at, so make your plans to join us.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.