Product Update: October 13, 2017

Pre / Post Comparisons Now Included In XLS Report

The data and graph of results for any pre-post comparisons that are created will now be included within the Polls + Q&A export for each session.

Q&A Panel Session Setting Now Available In Bulk Feature Updates

You have always been able to bulk import presenters and assign them to sessions but before this week the “Q&A Panel” setting — which allows the ability for attendees to specify which presenter a question is for — needed to be manually enabled within each specific session.

You now have the ability to bulk enable the “Q&A Panel” setting for all sessions. Don’t worry, if the “Q&A Panel” setting is enabled for a session with only one presenter it won’t impact anything.

Automated Evaluation Unlocking Now Available For Single Session Apps

Bug Fix

Attendees Will No Longer Be Directed To The Admin Area When All Sessions Are “Hidden”. Instead, they will arrive at the app homepage and see a message saying that there are no sessions available at this time.

 

Resolved: DNS issues affecting Conferences i/o today

Update

DNS service for .IO domains appears to be fully restored and the Conferences i/o platform appears to be available again for all customers. The Conferences i/o Support Team will continue to monitor.

Duration of event: Approximately 10:15 AM US Eastern Time until approximately 12:00 PM US Eastern Time.

Original post

This morning (approximately 10:30 AM US Eastern team), the Conferences i/o Support Team began receiving reports of the Conferences i/o service being unreachable. After a quick investigation, we learned that the global root DNS service for .IO domains is experiencing problems with its service. This outage affects all .IO domains, but is sporadic in nature, meaning that it is not impacting everyone trying to access a .IO domain.

If you are experiencing this DNS issue, it is possible to use an alternative URL to access your Conferences i/o URL. Instead of using “cnf.io”, use “cnfio.com”. For example, for the Conferences i/o app at demo.cnf.io, you would instead browse to demo.cnfio.com. This allows attendees to access your Conferences i/o app directly — however, our PowerPoint Add-In (if being used) uses the “cnf.io” structure in its code and may still be affected.

The Conferences i/o Support Team is evaluating this situation and exploring further workaround options, but anticipates resolution coming within a few hours of this post.

Example screenshot of the DNS problem:

 

 

 

 

Second-generation Windows PowerPoint Add-In is now out of beta

Our first-generation Windows PowerPoint Add-In, released in 2014, made it easy to embed live content, like polls and Social Q&A, directly into PowerPoint presentations. Presenters have come to rely on this functionality because they can poll their audience by simply advancing to a polling slide, and they can view the most upvoted audience questions instead of posting a “Questions?” slide at the end of their talk.

However, this first-generation version relied on an older technology, known as ActiveX, to accomplish the task of displaying our live content. As we prepared in 2016 to develop a second-generation version of our Add-In, we knew we wanted to get away from ActiveX while also laying the groundwork for major improvements to our Windows PowerPoint integration.

As of today, we are formally removing the “beta” label from our second-generation Windows PowerPoint Add-In, which has been available to customers since April 2017.

We are also applying a “legacy” label to the original (first-generation) Windows PowerPoint Add-In (more on what this means later).

If you want to jump directly into the second-generation PowerPoint Add-In, you can find download and installation instructions for the second-generation version here.

What’s different about the second-generation version?

There are three major differences.

(1) As we already mentioned, the second-generation Add-In uses a modern underlying technology to display live content. This is in contrast to the first-generation version, which uses ActiveX (an older technology).

(2) Our second-generation Add-In uses a special tag in the presenter notes of slides to identify what should be displayed when the slideshow is running. This tag corresponds with our “Slide Codes”. The first-generation Add-In used an embedded object directly on the slide, with hidden Slide Code attributes.

(3) A new “Conferences i/o” ribbon will appear in PowerPoint. While our first-generation Add-In created a single button under the “Insert” ribbon, our second-generation Add-In has a dedicated ribbon. We will use this ribbon for various Add-In settings, as well as to communicate when an update becomes available.

Screen shot of second generation Conferences i/o Windows PowerPoint Add-In ribbon

What’s new in the second-generation version?

(A) You can download all live content slides at one time for a session, rather than copy/pasting a slide code for each slide. With the downloaded live content slides file, you can quickly drag and drop into your presentation.

Don’t worry — if you’d prefer to insert live content slides individually, you can still do so with the “Insert” button in our Conferences i/o ribbon.

(B) You will not run into ActiveX-related problems. The ActiveX technology used in our first-generation Windows PowerPoint Add-In can cause various warning messages and errors. Though the first-generation version will still work, it can be annoying for presenters to have to occasionally uninstall/reinstall, and make sure they aren’t doing anything that corrupts the embedded first-generation objects (like edit the file on a Mac).

(C) Interoperability with Mac. Because the second-generation Add-In takes its cue from slide notes, you can edit files in a Mac environment before running the slideshow in a Windows environment. Or you can build a slide deck on Windows and run it on a Mac (if using our Mac App).

(D) Upcoming features. We’ve got some great new features coming soon that have been hinted at in previous emails, and these features will only be available to the second-generation Add-In.

I’m using the original (first-generation) version. When should I switch over?

There’s no need to upgrade right away. The first-generation version will continue to work on your system, and our support team (support@conferences.io) will be there to assist if you run into any problems.

However … be aware that the second-generation version will NOT run live content slides created with the first-generation version

This means that if you have upcoming presentations with first-generation slides, the second-generation version won’t know what to do with them. In this scenario, we suggest waiting until your next event or presentation to begin using the second-generation version. If you would like to move more swiftly, we recommend reading through our migration guide.

If you have any questions about what will be the best approach for you or your organization, don’t hesitate to reach out to our support team (support@conferences.io) — we are here to help.

I’ve never used the Conferences i/o Add-In before. What should I do?

If you are new to embedding live content (polls, Q&A) from Conferences i/o into presentations, we recommend starting with the second-generation version of our Add-In.

Which version am I using right now?

If you’re not sure which version you are using right now, the easy way to figure it out is to look in PowerPoint. If you have a “Conferences i/o” ribbon, you are already using the second-generation version. If the “insert Conferences i/o” button is listed the “Insert” ribbon, you are using the first-generation version.

What about Mac?

We support Mac PowerPoint and Keynote with our own Mac App. The Mac App works a bit differently from our Windows PowerPoint Add-In. Learn more about the Mac App here.

Download and install the second-generation version

Instructions for downloading and installing the second-generation version of our Windows PowerPoint Add-In are available here.

And don’t forget, if you have any questions or run into anything unexpected, you can reach our support team by emailing support@conferences.io!

9 Newly Renovated Convention Centers to Keep an Eye Out For

Los Angeles, California

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-convention-center-hotel-20170223-story.html

A development application has been filed for a 1,024-room hotel to rise next to the Los Angeles Convention Center. If all works out for developer, TriCal Construction Inc., a 53-story building with go up near the center’s south hall.

Gensler, the architecture firm hired, would design for a restaurant, rooftop bar, and banquet rooms. There will also include a swimming pool as well as electronic screens on the outside of the building to display art and advertisements, as shown above. The city’s goal is to have at least 8,000 guest hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center by 2020. With more hotel rooms available, people could experience easier accessibility to the Los Angeles Convention Center, compared to competitors.

Denver, Colorado

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/18/gaylord-rockies-hotel-booked/

The Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center is currently underway for its hotel renovation, projected to finish late 2018. 180,000 rooms have already been booked by meeting planners and 88 percent of these reservations were booked by businesses or groups that have never done so in Colorado before.

The conference hotel will have 1,500 rooms and once finished, it will be the state’s largest convention center. There are a few opponents who argue the project will take business away from already existing hotels in the area, but many think this competition is beneficial.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

http://www.journalnow.com/business/benton-convention-center-renovations-continue/collection_f1dd2c52-c941-11e6-8262-7ff92c54ecd0.html#4

Director of Operations, Grant Minnix, says the Benton Convention Center should foresee completed renovations by May 4, 2017. The bottom level is currently open to the public while the upstairs and outdoor area is finishing up construction. The newly designed meeting halls will be covered in custom carpeting, there will be a wooden deck overlooking Cherry Street and meeting halls taking up 25,000 square feet.

The City Council has spent approximately $17.5 million on the reconstruction of the convention center. The goal is to increase competition with local rivals. Alongside the new meeting halls, the convention center will undergo exterior changes and will be provided with new audio and visual services.

Little Rock, Arkansas

http://www.smartmeetings.com/hotels-resorts/89909/latest-new-and-renovated-hotels
http://www.arkansasonline.com/galleries/22149/album/#3

After a $70 million renovation, the Robinson Center in Little Rock, Arkansas is open again to the public. Changes include a grand ballroom with views of the river, modern design regarding the structure of the building and upgraded technology. The recently renovated convention center consists of 45,000 square feet of upgraded decor.

Robinson Conference Center is named after the late democratic politician, Joseph T. Robinson, who served as as state representative, governor, and U.S. congressman. He is considered to be very important for Arkansas’s history and the renovations are supposed to embody his history as well as the arts of the auditorium inside.

Columbus, Ohio

http://www.meetusincolumbus.com/gccc-renovation/

Greater Columbus Convention Center is currently under renovations and when completed, will have an added 37,000 square feet of exhibit space and 10,000 square feet for meeting space. Other changes include offices looking over the exhibit hall floors, a new cafe with local food and new artwork.

The center will also be connected to an 800-car parking garage. The goal of the renovations is to attract more people to a vibrant and community-like atmosphere.The renovations are projected to finish in July of 2017.

Louisville, Kentucky

https://www.kyconvention.org/images/Expansion/Slides/KICC_View02_lowreslogo.jpg
https://www.kyconvention.org/images/Expansion/Slides/TheBallroomStreetLevel.JPG

Renovations for the Kentucky International Convention Center have been underway as of August 2016. The schedule has been slightly accelerated to keep the project running efficiently and within budget. The reconstruction is expected to cost around $180 million. 146,000 square feet of the existing center will be expanded into over 200,000 square feet. According to the convention center’s website, www.kyconvention.org, Louisville hosts five of the United State’s biggest trade shows. The project is expected to hit completion by Summer of 2018.

Anaheim, California

http://www.ocregister.com/2016/12/13/anaheim-convention-center-expansion-is-on-time-and-already-getting-booked/

The Anaheim Convention Center has recently gone through a $190 million expansion that has added more than 200,000 square feet of space. Every year, the convention center holds around 190 conventions, catching the attention of more than 1 million guests. This is the seventh renovation since the building’s opening in 1967 and is considered the largest convention center on the west side of the country, sitting on more than 1.6 million square feet.

The entirety of the expansion has included a development of 450,000 added square feet, including more exhibit halls, meeting areas, a lobby and terrace. The convention center also offers a parking garage with 1,350 spaces.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

http://www.broward.org/ccexpansion/Pages/Default.aspx

In 2015, The Broward County Convention Center had been approved to add a headquarters hotel. An additional 400,000 square feet will be added to the building and the new hotel will have 800 rooms. The project is located on the Intracoastal Waterway and is not too far away from the Port Everglades, one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. The development is projected to cost about $550 million. Once the concept of the site design is approved, a site plan package will be developed after 8 months followed by site plan approval.

The convention center is already approximately 600,000 square feet. Once the hotel is finished, the public spaces and waterfront features should boost the local economy by more than $100 million a year, raising tourism rates and generating new jobs. Construction is said to begin in 2018 and will finish for opening in late 2021.

Las Vegas, Nevada

https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/tourism/tech-upgrades-coming-with-1-4b-las-vegas-convention-center-expansion/

Las Vegas convention centers attract more than 50,000 from 150 different nations, including the Las Vegas Convention Center. The development of the Las Vegas Convention Center is said to include a 600,000 square foot exhibition hall and 150,000 square feet for meeting rooms. Technologically, the convention center will also be upgrading. Digital displays that are used in airports and stadiums will make their way into the renovated convention center. The project, costing $1.4 billion, is set to begin late 2017 into early 2018 and will take 6 years to complete. Once finished, the convention center will have 1.9 million square feet of exhibit space and will be considered the second largest convention center in the country.

New Version Of PowerPoint Add In Now Available

We just released an updated version of our Windows PowerPoint add-in and Mac PowerPoint / Keynote presenter app.

Note: The second-generation Add-in is in public beta. While the Add-in has been tested by many users, there may still be quirks or bugs that have not yet been ironed out.

Benefits Of The New Version

Fewer Installation Issues For Windows Users

Our second-generation Add-In uses special “cnf” tags in the presenter notes of slides to identify where live content belongs. This release does not use ActiveX technology (like the first generation does) which was the most frequent cause of installation issues. Removing the use of ActiveX will result in fewer issues faced by users during the initial install.

Download All Embedded Slides At Once

In the first generation of the add-in users were required to copy & paste individual “slide codes” for each Poll and embed them into a PowerPoint presentation one by one.

You now have the option to download a PPT file containing all of your live content (polls, Q&A, pre / post comparisons, etc.) already embedded into the slides for you. From here you simply copy & paste or drag & drop the embedded slides into the appropriate place in the final presentation deck.

Manually Advance To Poll Results

New to our PowerPoint Add-In is an option for manually advancing to poll results, functionality that complements our existing automated timers.

Automated timers, which will continue to be available, are simple presets that show a poll’s choices and make the poll available for voting before showing the results on the projector. If you choose a 20 second automated timer, the poll will be open for 20 seconds before automatically advancing to the results.

 

With the new option to manually advance to results, presenters will be able to make the poll available to attendees and display the question and response options on screen — then move forward to display the poll results whenever they are ready. This is particularly useful if a presenter feels that not enough of the audience has jumped in to vote.

Want To Learn More?

All of the info you need for the Windows version can be found here and information for the Mac version can be found here.

New Feature Update

Introducing “Presenters”

presenters

We just added a new concept in Conferences i/o allowing administrators to create presenters and assign presenters to specific sessions.

This new concept will allow Conferences i/o to add a wide breadth of useful functionality, particularly for panel discussions and sessions that have multiple speakers presenting.


What can you do with Presenters?

Session EvaluationsSession Evaluations

Create evaluation questions that are repeated for each presenter in a session.

Social Q&ASocial Q&A

Attendees can now tag which presenter a question is targeted for before submitting.

presenters3Joining a Session

Attendees can search for sessions on your app using just a presenter’s name.

PollingPolling

Associate polls with presenters to keep track of whose polls belong to whom.

Learn More About Presenter’s Here

Should You Encourage Device Use During Events?

We recently asked 100 people how they feel when they see someone next to them using their phone during a presentation or talk. Here are some of the responses we heard.

“It seems disrespectful to the presenter and others in attendance.”

“I would like to tell them how rude they are.”

“I want to kill them forcefully.”

Whoa. How can people have such strong opinions about the simple act of using your phone?

Well, let’s step into their shoes for a moment. Or into your own memories, since you’ve been in the audience at many talks and presentations. How do you feel when you see the people around you constantly on their phones? Are you able to focus on the presenter, or are you distracted?

We were stunned at how unabashedly people wrote about their disgust toward other attendees using their devices during a live talk. The reactions inspire memories of people using their phones at the movie theater, frustrating those around them.

From what we have uncovered, the same negative opinion carries over to live events.

Active policies toward attendee device use during live events

The opinions we have seen from attendees toward device use is the result of laissez-faire policies from event organizers. Almost every organizer is passive, neither encouraging nor discouraging device use during sessions. As an organizer, you curate almost every aspect of your event—so why stop there? Why not consider an active policy?

Discourage device use

Repressing or prohibiting device use is not easy. Attendees (or their employers) are paying to be at your event, and will feel entitled to use their phone whenever they want. So it’s probably not wise to adopt an across-the-board policy of device discouragement, unless you want to hear a steady stream of complaints.

6711234961_a6d9c006b7_o

You could, however, enact prohibition policies at some sessions. For example, a keynote with a respected speaker should command the audience’s complete attention. But even in this situation you’d probably prefer attendees sharing quotes and photos on Twitter to an outright ban on device use.

Separate users from non-users

As an alternative to a prohibition on device use, you could restrict device use to a special seating section (preferably in the back or to the sides of rooms). This keeps device use out of the line of sight of most folks in the audience.

Encourage constructive use

If you are going to take an active approach to audience device use during sessions, encouraging constructive use is the best way to go. What qualifies as constructive use?

  • Sharing session highlights on social media.
  • Taking notes on the session.
  • Using an audience interaction app (like Conferences i/o) to add real-time polling, and crowdsource Q&A for speakers.

If you’ve never encouraged constructive device use at an event before, we recommend ramping up over a year or two. Start small with social media hashtags, create incentives for attendees to use it, and then layer in other technologies as they make sense.

The only downside of constructive device use is that you will have to consider forking over extra money to the venue for additional wifi coverage. While you could rely on attendees to use their own device’s data connections, a complete lack of free wifi creates the impression that the event’s organizers are cheap, especially if the registration fee is relatively high. But if you plan ahead, you can build some of that cost increase into the registration fee, find a sponsor to cover your wifi costs, and you will reap the positive reward of more fun and engaging sessions.

6111025648_555cbe3f02_o

Summing it up

Here are a few takeaways from what we’ve learned:

  • An active policy toward audience device use, in most cases, is better than a passive policy.
  • Discouraging device use or separating the audience may not be the best option, but can work in some situations.
  • Encouraging constructive use of devices will have many positive outcomes.

What Event Organizers Can Learn From College Professors

Photo of Raquel Tabak

My name is Raquel Tabak. I am a student currently enrolled at Michigan State University. Although professors and event professionals are a bit different profession-wise, they both accomplish the similar goal of pleasing their audiences while delivering high quality educational experiences.

I was curious about what my professors do that make them successful when speaking to their students, so I got in touch with a few here at Michigan State University. It is on a daily basis that professors and the alike need to ensure that they are giving the best presentation they possibly can. Thus, these tactics and theories can also benefit event professionals. Here are some key pieces of information I found from my research that event organizers can learn from college professors when it comes to speaking to an audience.

Sessions should flow from one to another

It is important when giving multiple presentations to create sessions that flow. If you attended college, you can probably remember a class you took that seemed choppy. This means that with every meet, the previous class did not seem to flow or connect with the following one. If you are giving more than one talk to an audience in one day, you should make sure that you stay consistent. This provides the presentations with a smooth tone that will make it easy for audience members to understand.

Keep attendees focused

Long lectures make it easy for people to lose focus. However, this can easily be prevented in a couple of ways.

Firstly, make sure that you stop for breaks as well as pacing the presentation. This will give listeners time to absorb the information they have been given. If you overwhelm the attendees with too much material at once, it can become confusing.

Secondly, according to Charles Ballard of the Economics department at Michigan State University, a good tactic to keep the group interested is to be animated, enthusiastic and energetic. It is important to bring energy to the lecture as it ultimately keeps the audience awake and intrigued. In other words, presenters should not sound robotic. A good way to keep the audience focused can be by telling jokes, which overall adds a “human touch” to the event.

Lastly, presenters should give attendees the opportunity to ask questions if they are confused or lost. This not only helps people who may need more clarification on a topic, but it simultaneously puts the presentation at a halt for the audience to soak everything in.

Create personal relationships

Creating personal relationships within sessions gives attendees a memorable experience. If you want your audience to stay engaged and enthused, then as the presenter you should reflect the same tone. Again, thinking back to large college lectures, your professor probably did not know your name as there were many students. Charles Ballard stressed how he always attempts to make his students feel like they are not just an ID number. This can be done in sessions by making eye contact, smiling, and asking questions. It may even be smart to keep the tone conversational, if appropriate. This overall creates a more personalized experience for the attendees.

Explain technical terms

Zach Hambrick, a professor from the Psychology Department at MSU, believes that he performs best when he remembers to explain fairly complex ideas in simple, comprehensible terms that his students would be able to understand. For example, he notes that if he uses a technical term, he makes sure to explain what the term means. This will keep the presentation complex, yet easily understood. This is important because while some topics may be clear to some, they may be confusing to others.

Photo of Zach Hambrick, professor at Michigan State University
Zach Hambrick, professor at Michigan State University. Photo originally found at MSU Today.

Presenters need to be neat, prepared, and punctual

Always come prepared to your session. If you are unprepared to give a talk, your audience will not want to listen. Make sure you know what you will be talking about throughout the session or you will easily lose the interest of your audience. Picture yourself in a classroom or lecture hall. Would you want to be there if your professor was unprepared and unorganized? The same goes for an event session. If you want your attendees to be interested in listening right off the bat, you should arrive to the session knowing what you have in store for them.

Further, when attending a lecture, it is very important as the presenter to show up looking as professional as possible. It may not have crossed your mind, but hygiene and professionalism play a huge role in presenting. You should arrive to your session looking well rested, clean and dressed properly. Doing so will gain the respect and interaction you seek from your attendees.

Lastly, as there is always the possibility of losing your audience’s focus during sessions, you can improve this by starting and ending on time. Attendees arrive to the session without the intention of having their time being wasted; therefore the presenter should begin at the exact time that is listed. It is just as important to finish on time. Just as college students find it annoying when the professor keeps the class longer than he or she should, this same idea goes for your event session. You should always pace the session in a manner that will help you end on time. Creating too long of a session can possibly cause your attendees to begin feeling disengaged and displeased.

In conclusion

These tips can be very helpful to event organizers who would their attendees to leave feeling engaged and happy. To summarize, event organizers and presenters should work together to create flow across sessions, have ample breaks, keep the group engaged by speaking with energy, give the opportunity for attendees to ask questions, personalize presentations, explain difficult topics in simple terms, come prepared, look prepared, and finally start and end presentations on time. With these cornerstones in place, presenters will have successful sessions, and event organizers will have successful events.

Happy New Year! Introducing EventLens and RaffleKit

For the holidays, the Conferences i/o team wanted to do something different. So we decided to build an interesting and fun tool for event professionals. And we liked that so much, we built a second tool. So happy 2016 to everyone, and enjoy these gifts.

Introducing: EventLens

What if you could easily collect attendee photos (without needing a Twitter hashtag) to display in a live slideshow during your event?

EventLens

EventLens is a super-simple photostream that allows attendees at your events to easily share photos without the need of a Twitter account and hashtag. All they have to do is text their photos to a phone number.

EventLens is a fun and easy way to engage your attendees. Here are a few simple use cases:

  • Have EventLens running on a monitor in your event’s registration lobby. As attendees are walking in, they will see what’s going on (in real-time) and will be pulled into the experience right away.
  • Encourage attendees to take photos throughout the event, and during the closing session, have your EventLens slideshow showing off everything that happened.

Attendees will love seeing their photos show up in your EventLens photostream. It’s a simple act, but it creates a strong sense of connection between attendees, and with organizers.

Please note that EventLens has a small cost associated with it. We’re keeping this fee tied to what our real costs are (a small amount to use phone numbers and handle incoming MMS). But don’t worry, you can try it for free. All you have to do is email a selfie with a thumbs-up to hello@eventlensapp.com, and we’ll get a promotional code to you right away.

(Don’t worry, we won’t share your photo with anyone.)

Here’s a quick introductory video for EventLens:

 

Introducing: RaffleKit

Traditionally, giveaway winners at events are chosen by picking a piece of paper out of a bowl. More recently, we’ve seen name badge raffles where a winner is literally read off a device that looks like a graphing calculator.

What if you could show a big Price-is-Right-esque wheel on a projector, flashing through every attendee’s name, slowing down and finally stopping on a winner? That’s what RaffleKit lets you do.

raffle-example

Aside from the convenience of digitally managing entries (and being able to import from sources like spreadsheets), RaffleKit is an easy way to add a fun presentation layer for your giveaways. When you’re ready to draw a name, you push a button and the wheel spins!

If you’re already a Conferences i/o customer, RaffleKit can be a great way to incentive participation during your event. For example, attendees can receive one entry per session evaluation that they complete and at the end of the event you can do a live drawing for a prize!

As an added bonus, RaffleKit is completely free to use.

Here’s a quick introductory video for RaffleKit: