No More Poker Face – Decoding Attendees’ Real-Time Reactions

We've written here about how the government is looking at facial recognition to improve security and make access to places and data more efficient. While the policy and technology challenges are worked out within multiple government use cases, event planners can look to the same technology to improve how they deliver content and education.

As this article points out, surveys provide a snapshot of audience reaction to an event, but they do so in days, even weeks after it has wrapped. Additionally, there is a lot of effort that goes into getting survey responses back and analyzed, and even then, the sample size may not be statistically valid.

Good speakers and planners know the power of reading the room and adjusting on the fly to keep and increase audience interest and participation. But bright lights, sheer audience size, and general logistics make that problematic. Tracking social media can also provide a real-time pulse on how attendees are digesting and reacting to content. But getting this feedback is dependent on attendees using these platforms and using them in real-time. With facial and biometric technologies, event planners and marketers can remove these challenges and dependencies and collect attendee feedback without having to ask anything of those attendees.

Audience engagement tools using biometrics can identify attendees' emotions without identifying the face or person. In one implementation, video cameras mounted at the side of the stage film the facial expressions of the audience. This feed is run through AI-powered software to identify and track expressions of the people watching the stage and what emotion they are expressing (fear, anger, happiness, etc.). A raw look at this data is available, but within a couple of minutes the software can more fully analyze it and provide a quick view if the audience is reacting positively or negatively.

Following the event, speakers can go back through the data to see where there were emotional peaks. From there, speakers can update their content based on the points that made the most significant connection with the audience.

Pricing can vary depending on the type of technology used and the analytics being run. On average, costs fall in the $5,000-$10,000 range. Some companies offer pricing per attendee, and others have a flat fee. While this can be a large investment, if you weigh the cost of facial recognition against the costs associated with speaker fees, and the event budget in general, spending money to find the effectiveness of sessions makes a lot of sense for future planning.

What are your thought on using facial recognition technology for event planning and management? Have you tried it? Do you want to? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Small Area, Small Problems? Not the Case with State and Local Governments

The operating challenges around budgets, resources, and legacy technology we see at the Federal level are amplified at the state and local level. Just because these groups are responsible for a smaller population does not mean their problems are smaller. On the contrary, historically low staffing levels and a geographically-limited pool of talent feed into the core challenges that all government teams face.

Security - Securing systems and the data that lives on those networks is now seen as a focus beyond IT. Everyone plays a role in cybersecurity, and there is a real need to update systems and processes as well as educate users.

Innovation - Since teams are so busy with day-to-day operations, stepping back to foster innovation can be difficult.  Many are finding ways to make the transformation work. In fact, some of the most innovative public sector programs are happening on the local level.

Managing change - Communication is key in implementing change within small, tight-knit teams. Participation in decision making ensures that new solutions meet the needs of the workforce as well as the citizens.

Finding time for training - All of the challenges above feed into an inability to make time for training and education to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology field. Continue reading

Care and Feeding of Your Content

As we highlighted in the post, The Why and How of Federal Event Attendance, content is truly king. The topic is the driving force for getting people to register and attend an event. Knowing attendees are there to learn, how can event planners ensure attendees have a great experience and are able to digest and use the information presented? We've pulled together a quick tip list to think about when organizing your next event.

  • Can you see me now - check the lighting and sight lines to make sure the audience is able to clearly see the presenter as well as their slides. If possible, test the room set up at the same time of day that your event will be happening. In rooms with ambient light, shadows shift throughout the day. Additionally, it's important to check lighting for the presenters - they should have enough light on stage to be able to read their notes but not too much that they can't see/read the audience.
  • Mic check 1-2 - nothing is more aggravating than sound that is too quiet, too loud or has feedback. While there will almost always be audio glitches during an event, minimize issues by testing all microphones prior to each use and have AV support in the room should something happen during the talk.
  • The presentation is in the mail - attendees are there for the content so make it available after the event. Let attendees know you will email them access to the presentations so they do not have to worry about photographing slides to refer to later.
  • Spell check twice, distribute once - since slides are being disseminated, it is even more critical to spell check and proof every presentation. A typo that may get overlooked on the screen during an engaging presentation will stick out when people study the information closer on their own screens.
  • Reuse and recycle - don't let the learning stop at the event. Take the content presented and find ways to share it after the fact through blog posts, videos/video clips, podcasts, infographics, and more. Doing so will broaden the reach of your event and message beyond the in-person attendees.

Let us know your ideas for how to highlight your content before, during, and after your events. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Behind the Curtain: GAIN 2018 Conference

GAIN - which stands for Grow, Accelerate, Innovate, Network - has become the annual home for government marketers to come together and share challenges, tactics, and successes. This event, now in its third year, filled a void in the event landscape for government marketers.

Government marketing is a unique field given the strict guidelines that surround government purchasing. What works in the commercial market does not always translate to government. And speaking of translate, the government's acronym alphabet soup feels like a whole different language.

We spoke with Founder Lou Anne Brossman to find out what attendees should expect at this year's event.

What makes GAIN different from other federal events?

First, there's our focus on the marketers. When we started this event I had people come up to me and exclaim, "I've found my people!" Marketers are so busy and focused on their day to day that once they were able to take a step back and talk with peers they realized there was a huge value in the camaraderie of this field.

It's been exciting to watch people make connections. Our attendees started referring to themselves as GAINers both at the show and throughout the year. It's really been great to see this community form.

I think another unique aspect is this idea of community. GAIN was borne out of Government Marketing University (or GMarkU), a professional learning platform that takes a collaborative, community-based approach toward knowledge sharing and skill development in the field of public sector marketing.

We have over 60 gurus from all corners of the U.S. public sector marketplace -- marketers, thought leaders, government (current and former), media and sales leaders -- contributing their time and knowledge via classes and events. Sharing is not confined to one day - it continues year round with GMarkU.

Finally, I think a unique aspect of our event is the interplay between government executives and private sector marketers. We have ambassadors, many current and former government officials, that act as mentors to marketers, providing insight into what is happening on the government side. Continue reading

GAIN Access to 200+ Government Marketers

We've written here about changes in sponsor expectations and the ways event marketers are crafting sponsorship packages to deliver a measurable and meaningful return on investment. One thing that all sponsors want is access to attendees.

They want to meet with them at the event, gather information for contacting them after the event, and hear first hand their challenges and needs. One of our GovEvents partners is taking a unique approach to making sure sponsors get the access they want.

The GAIN 2018 Conference is a day-long gathering for professionals involved in marketing to the government. In the proverbial "cobbler's children have no shoes" scenario, government marketers were so busy planning and attending events that there was never an event dedicated to their professional development and networking. Continue reading