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  • Writer's pictureGert Vermaak

Leapfrogging virtual meetings

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

How using audience engagement technology in lockstep with virtual meetings can help South Africa leapfrog into the next wave of meetings and events services.

Geographically speaking, in a large country like South Africa, it makes sense to drive around with hand held devices to facilitate meetings across the country during a roadshow, right?

Well, not too long ago, we did exactly that. My most clear memory of that was our very first CEO roadshow for ABSA. It was the leadership handover event between Nallie Bosman and Steve Booysen in 2004.

The issue was the keypads we used where damn expensive, and even then the ZAR was any better off against her Majesty’s sterling, I could buy a flat for the same money as 100 keypads! Scarce resource invested in hardware.

So we had to think carefully how you leapfrog between venues, it is easy for the presenters to fly from venue to venue back to back but near impossible to do the same if you don’t have enough equipment to be ready setup for the next day.

Cold sweats during the night, calling the operator driving the van from Nelspruit all the way down to Durban past Swaziland to be in time for the next setup the following day! There were at least three flats in the back of that van.

Fast forward 17 years later, the exact same need is still there, leaders whilst engaging with their audience want to feel the pulse, get audience members engaged and break the one way direction coming from the podium.

Would I have believed you if you told me we would be able to do complex interaction via video conferencing over fast enough lines on the internet and having the same functionality available all the while you are using your own mobile phone?

Probably not, and yes, as we have heard, these are special times. I am also not naïve enough to think that it will always be like this and fully aware that we have short memories and, very soon, we will be doing face to face conferences and so it should be.

I do believe however, that the frequency of engagement with widely dispersed teams can be done more effectively via these platforms and using technology that can offer you a level of granularity to help understand what the mood is.

For the first time, you can risk it not to only consider a physical roadshow once a year but actually have more frequent virtual town hall meetings on your VC platform and have something measurable to show for it as an end result.

Yes, I do love the open road and driving through our beautiful country, and especially now, when we are locked in our homes, that desire is even stronger. Luckily we don’t need hardware that needs transporting. We have the ability to leapfrog straight into the new world with audience engagement at our fingertips on the ready to make that next video conference so much more engaging.

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