Category Archives: Event Intelligence

Reduce your stress levels with our August webinars!

If you find organising Wi-Fi at your event confusing and stressful or you could benefit from some practical advice on making the most of an event app, then look no further than the webinars we have planned for you this August.

Webinar 1: Stressed out with Wi-Fi when using event apps?
Thursday 10th August, 11am – 11:20am BST

Hosts: Caroline Perriam & Joe Probert.

The number one barrier that our clients hit when trying to use event apps at their meetings is Wi-Fi. In this webinar our app consultants, Caroline and Joe, will share guidance on:

1. Assessment: How to take the stress out of discussing Wi-Fi with a venue and simple questions to ask that will determine suitability
2. Augmentation: What we can do to enhance a Wi-Fi network
3. Alternatives: A look at other engagement technology available if venue Wi-Fi is not up to scratch

To register for Webinar 1 please click here.

Webinar 2: 4 Event App FAQs – All aboard the Crystal life raft!
Thursday 24th August, 11am – 11:20am BST

Hosts: Dominic Freeman & Rob Curtis.

Captain Freeman and Commander Curtis at HMS Crystal, are here to throw you a life raft and stop you drowning in a sea of event app best practices. With over 25 years combined experience our two seafarers will guide you through choppy seas to calmer waters by covering 4 of the most commonly asked questions when implementing and deploying event apps…

1. How do I make my speaker presentations and panel sessions more engaging?
2. When should I kick start my meeting and energise my audience?
3. Why is no one using the app I have spent months building?
4. What do delegates think of my event?

To register for Webinar 2 please click here.


Is Your Q&A Like A Brexit Debate?

I re-watched the Question and Answer (Q&A) with Nigel Farage and David Cameron which aired on ITV on 7th June. Much was made of the two politicians not facing each other but facing a tougher opponent: the audience. Like many, I enjoyed watching the two men questioned by eloquent and opinionated audience members armed with prompt cards, stats and follow up points. While the politicians are trained and prepared for these encounters, you could see it was hard work. Both men looked happy when the ordeal was over at the end of what must have felt like a long half hour.

I facilitate management conferences for many FTSE 100 Companies. The communications and HR teams often look to shield their CEOs from, or to heavily control an audience Q&A with managers. I suspect that the confrontational spectacle of the ITV debate is what they want to avoid.

However, a Q&A for internal audiences is always a more constructive and enjoyable experience for all involved. I have honestly never seen one as confrontational as the scenes from the ITV studio. Here are five reasons why the two events are so different and why CEOs should embrace the opportunity for open Q&A at their conferences:

1. In the main, internal audiences want to have answers not to express opinions – the debate audience had points to make and were not there to change their minds. The audience in a conference wants answers to their questions – the more they get the more satisfied they will be. 

2. A shared context: in most companies, the leadership and the managers have a shared set of goals – so an encounter between leaders and managers in a Q&A session can be set up as a dialogue to clarify the route to the goals rather than as a shouting match. 

3. Areas of expertise: the politicians were often being asked pretty specific questions which they were not necessarily prepared for – like the impact on the UK pharmaceutical industry of Brexit. In this situation, a politician’s tendency is to answer a different question causing frustration. But a CEO is less likely to face this situation and can, quite legitimately, bring in a colleague to answer if the question is too specific. 

4. Freshness: as well as few unknown questions, the debate had too many well-known questions. Regurgitating answers to previously asked questions never creates good feeling. But in an internal event there are ways of moving on from such questions and focusing on the new areas that need to be discussed. 

5. Focus on the audience in the room – the TV debate was staged for the cameras. Both questioners and politicians were not really speaking to each other, but to the millions watching. If you can focus just on the audience in the room, much of the posturing and mis-communication disappears.

The recent jousting on UK TV between politicians and members of the public is not the experience business leaders face when talking with their own teams. The more natural and open they can be, the more constructive they can be. 

Why's nobody using my app?

Why Is Nobody Using My App?

(And what can I do about it?)

The use of apps within live events often assumes delegates will use their own devices – sometimes referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). One result of this BYOD approach means lower uptake rates than organisers hope.

Firstly, if you have recently held an event and experienced low uptake rates for an app, you are not alone. I have met a great number of event organisers who have experienced it. Outside of technical issues, this is the most common problem. Secondly, while you will be feeling responsible for a low uptake rate, the responsibility actually lies, in my view, with the app provider. However, as it’s your job on the line, here are five reasons why uptake can be low and some suggestions for how to work improve it.

What’s In It For The Delegate?

The biggest way to improve uptake for an event app is to ensure the app does something for the delegate which could not be done in another way. Simply migrating content which you used to put on paper does not count! You have to make the app a genuinely beneficial part of the delegate experience. I believe that one way to achieve this is by allowing the delegate to participate in a dialogue with speakers and fellow delegates in the conference – to share meaningful ideas with peers and leaders through the app.

BYOD Headaches

The biggest turn off for a delegate using an app are difficulties connecting to venue WiFi. This includes requiring a username and password more than once (even if it’s printed all over the walls), or having to use one particular WiFi instead of another. But there are other issues: requiring any changes to phone settings, or requiring the user to overcome any security hurdles before accessing the app.

There’s nothing worse for an event organiser than being stuck in the middle between an app provider asking for one thing and the venue WiFi provider offering another. Crystal will always take responsibility for delivering the WiFi ourselves.

The Provided Device Alternative

At a recent event, a client used a BYOD solution for the 2016 event having used Crystal provided iPads in 2014.

In 2016, the average delegate participated in one vote and visited the app once on each day of the conference.

In 2014, the same delegate voted 12 times, shared 9 free text ideas in group brainstorming, liked 20 ideas, took 10 notes, sent 5 delegate-to-delegate messages and was on the app every hour.

Same audience. Same event. This level of uptake is not always desired – but if it is, providing devices is often the only way to achieving universal engagement.

Is The App Central Or Peripheral?

Some events could run perfectly well without any app – they are logistically simple (accommodation and event take place in one place), they are low on interaction (mostly presentations) and the audience know each other (so networking via the app has limited value). In these instances, other than digitising the agenda and delegate list there is little value for the delegate in using an app… and the usage statistics will reflect this.

Ease Of Use Is Essential

The most essential element to app uptake is ease of use. Your app provider should lead on ensuring this – both in terms of managing the delivery of the right WiFi solution, providing devices if required and in planning the delegate journey with you.

The second essential element is to ensure that, before commissioning an app, you have identified a meaningful role for the app from the delegates’ perspective. If these criteria have been met you can expect high uptake.

10 Commandments For Conference App Success

10 Top Tips For Event App Success

Have you just been asked to explore the options to provide a event app at your next conference, or do you want to improve on last year’s effort? Are you worried you haven’t got the time to arrange this year’s conference in amongst the day job, let alone handle the setup and planning needed to successfully deploy an event app?

I’ve set about helping you to answer all this and improve the outcomes of your event app deployments by asking the question, “what are my top 10 tips for conference and event app success”?

The conference app landscape has altered dramatically over the last 3 years as the rate of innovation and change has increased and new entrants have joined the marketplace looking to shake up an industry with brave new ideas and approaches. One route is to offer your delegates a free or almost free event app, do much of the content work yourself, suffer workarounds for non or missing features and watch with indignity when no-one bothers to download the fruits of your hard labour.

Alternatively, approach Crystal Interactive who will make every effort in advance and on site to ensure you delegates engage and use your conference app. The question is how important is the engagement to the outcome of your event. A free app may tick the digital box, but it is incapable of truly meeting the learning, engagement or success criteria you will have.

I’ve facilitated and attended hundreds of technology supported meetings over the years. I’ve facilitated every kind of corporate event, from the boardroom, to multi event roadshows, to thousands of people attending hybrid live and virtual conferences.

What should you ask for and expect of your app supplier and what do you need to consider as you embark on providing an event app?

I’ve now distilled my 10 top tips for event app success into one easy to read report.

Please do us a kindness by sharing the report with your social network.

Click below to download (note the link will redirect you to a different site).

Top Tips Download Button

Personalised PDFs

Personalised PDF Workbooks

How do you follow up with delegates after your event is finished? How do you maintain the momentum begun at your internal event or conference after delegates return to their busy day jobs. And are you able to measure the impact or effectiveness of your post event comms?

If your answers are we don’t, we can’t or have no idea what you’re talking about then find out how we can provide personalised PDFs to your delegates post event.

Have you ever wished you could package up all the brilliant ideas, thoughts, ambitions, objectives, key outcomes, commitments and much, much more discussed at your event and quickly send it out in a beautifully packaged post event communication? Can you imagine doing all that, and at the touch of a button.

Personalisation Increases Impact and Awareness

When you use a Crystal event app, we now make it easy for your post event communication to be personalised to each delegate, increasing impact and awareness, encouraging engagement and maintaining momentum.

Our typical engagement rates for this type of personalised, branded, post event digital communication is 85% email open rate and 55% for the personalised PDF report download.

At recent events, we have been taking delegate’s inputs to brainstorms, Q&A, voting, group discussions and combining it with personal content input (such as personal notes and messages) and formatting this data into a personalised, branded PDF which then gets sent out from our system to each delegate by email.

Each delegate receives a personalised email direct to their inbox with all the carefully curated event messages front and centre along with all their own inputs, their table groups or breakouts discussion points and topics. This is a sensational way to maintain the event momentum once the event is finished.  Think about it as a personalised infographic of the event you just attended. It is really powerful and engaging content and actions, owned by each delegate.

Measure For Success

Better still, as part of the ROI measurement, we can provide engagement statistics on how many people (and the percentage) opened the  email and downloaded their report. We can provide benchmark analysis to give you a measure of success against your corporate peer group.

Post event communications never looked this good or read and got actioned this brilliantly.

Click to download an example of a personalised PDF Workbook here



Why It's Good To Vote Image

Why It’s Good To Vote

The country goes to the polls in two days time and millions of people will be exercising their democratic right to vote and elect the next government. Who knows what the country will decide, but the pre-election polls indicate a hung parliament is looking most likely. What we do know is that there will be a ballot paper with many candidates, one person has one vote, there will be a voting booth and and a ballot box. The vote is carried out in person, simply, secretly and anonymously.

Voter turnout in 2010 was just 65% – the third lowest since the introduction of universal suffrage. Voter apathy with the political process, parties and what they stand for are largely cited as reasons for this. Where Crystal provides the digital voting at live events we typically achieve 80% response rates and often over 90% from the conference delegates and that’s for votes which carry much less far reaching consequences.

We’ve invested a lot of time, effort and money to create the most reliable and robust software to support every type of vote process available. At Crystal we provide technology supported voting to enable fast, efficient and reliable collection of votes during even the most complicated event. We’ve provided voting for 5 person focus groups to 3,500 person hybrid events with delegates situated across many countries and every type of event, conference and known voting process.

How do we achieve this?

We understand speakers, delegates, events and the voting process. We know how important it is that voting technology works first time, every time, quickly, securely and perfectly. We know how important it is to show results quickly and accurately. We understand how important it to craft a carefully worded question or statement and to make sure the voting options are valid.

Crystal keypad voting is simple and effective, if you’ve got a question or statement that can be responded to then you’ve got an engaging service available at your fingertips. Voting on a dedicated device like a keypad has been available for 20 years now and the technology has scarcely advanced.

The arrival of smartphones, mobile event tech, 3 and 4G and WiFi Internet enabled venues has made event technology and voting more available and accessible than ever before.

Live event voting is still a valid, powerful, insightful, interactive and engaging activity for delegates wanting to make a contribution to their event, and it’s just as important to make it available on a physical device as well as via an event app.

If voting at the general election were this simple and digital would the turnout be improved?

Measuring Event ROI

Focus On Event ROI

Measuring Return On Investment (ROI) is critical but is only a reflection of a wider business desire to measure everything.

Recently I went into a mobile phone shop to get a new contract for my daughter. At the end of a perfectly routine process, the saleswoman told me I had to go online and give feedback. I was told if she didn’t get my feedback she would lose her job. While I hope she was exaggerating, there’s no doubt marketers seek to control every aspect of our lives and are hungry for feedback.

Measure Event ROI

Events are no different and event marketers are desperate to measure every aspect of your event experience – from what you thought of the coffee (did they not taste it?) to what you thought of the speakers and the experience overall.

And with the desire to measure event ROI, the need for feedback increases. Event planners want to know:

– What did you learn from the event?
– How will the event change your behaviour?
– What do you commit to doing as a result of attending the event?

Collecting and Understanding Feedback

Frequently, event planners use our Event App to capture this insight. As a rule of thumb, the more you ask, the less you collect. I have always seen a few committed delegates participating in giving feedback but the majority of delegates do not. Can you realistically rely on survey data that only 80% of delegates have started and, honestly, only about 40% have finished properly?

As far as it goes, we are fans of event feedback. Read our white paper Inside The Mind Of The Delegate in which we crunched over 10,000 end of event surveys to understand what delegates are looking for at conferences. But as our event technology becomes more powerful, we have found that the amount we can measure about delegates’ attitudes from studying their behaviour through our app is as insightful as that which we can measure by asking them outright.

The Participation Equation

The first step is to remove barriers to participation. Clear out the technically challenged and disengaged to understand how many people really do not want to engage with your app. This gives you the first measure of participant engagement.

The Participation Equation

Once we know the participation number, there are very many ways we can measure participation.

– How many people are making notes about what they are hearing?
– How many are visiting which stands in the exhibition?
– What are the attendance levels in live sessions and how do these decline over the event?
– What is the sentiment of what people are saying? Does the sentiment shift during the event?
– When we test delegates’ knowledge, how much did they know when they arrived and how much new knowledge have they gained during the event?
– How many people come back to the event content post event to download the reports, notes, contacts and presentations they requested?

Transform Your Event by Measuring Event ROI

In truth, there’s enough data collected passively through our Event App to sink even the most buoyant event marketer. So we’ve been focusing on cutting through the detail to answer two questions:

1. What are the most important measures for your event and,
2. By benchmarking against peer group events, what would good performance look like?

Couple the answers to those questions with our unrivalled experience in turning the results into a follow up plan and a strategy for the next event and we are on the cusp of showing you how our approach to measuring event ROI can genuinely transform future event strategy.

EQ Engaging Approach

EQ: An Engaging Approach

Emotional intelligence isn’t just about one-to-one conversations. It can also play a critical role in helping leaders connect with the wider organisation and deliver lasting change, says Axiom founder Chris Carey

The hallmark of effective leaders is their ability to transform an organisation. That takes vision, strategy and powerful ideas, of course. But, as Daniel Goleman and others have shown, it also requires emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to understand the emotions of others and channel them in a new direction.

It’s pretty easy to see how this is done on a small scale. In the crucible of one-to-one interactions, emotionally intelligent leaders can tune into the feelings of another, understanding their needs, concerns and values. They then use that insight to guide what they say and do. Most of us who’ve been on the receiving end know how powerful that can be. Early in my career, a leader listened very carefully to my ideas for inspiring a group of 400 managers – a community I’d recently been part of before my move into internal communication. The conversation left me feeling hugely valued. Emotionally intelligent leaders seem to understand what makes us tick, and we come away freshly engaged – and motivated to do more and be more.

But it’s a much bigger challenge to deliver that kind of emotionally intelligent leadership to an organisation of thousands of people, often spanning multiple national borders. Helping executives secure the genuine, felt commitment of large workforces – truly engaging people in what the organisation is trying to achieve – has been my professional raison d’être for 20 years. And one of the big lessons I’ve learned is that most leaders benefit from some practical help in understanding and responding to the feelings and concerns of a diverse employee base.

I’m going to focus on two approaches to involving employees in the process of change communication – approaches that amplify the impact of EQ.

The sounding board

In communicating important strategic messages, it’s vital you first know the hot topics in the business. One way to do this is through a sounding board – a representative group of frontline people who are encouraged to express their views to leaders in a safe and trusting setting. Their input can be vital in helping hone change communication – the messages and the tactics – so it meets the needs of their colleagues. The sounding board is one way to implement the ‘Build a Guiding Coalition’ step in Kotter’s 8 Steps for Leading Change.

Such a group saved my bacon when they told me the top five things staff were actually talking about in the run-up to a major conference. We compared their feedback to the leaders’ top five messages – the overlap was zero. With the help of the sounding board, we found common ground and terrific ways to get messages across, meeting the needs of all.

Done well, a sounding board provides invaluable insight into life in the field or on the shop floor. It gives leaders the intelligence they need to adjust what they say and do – and allows the organisation to shape initiatives and communication that make a real difference.

Truly interactive events

Another great opportunity to facilitate emotionally intelligent leadership on an organisation-wide scale comes with conferences and events. These are often the best way to kick-start major change or engagement campaigns because you can make a big impact with a relatively large group and then cascade that out globally.

But it’s not going to happen if you’re rehashing the same old show-and-tell PowerPoint fest of executive presentations that have participants dozing off by mid-afternoon. Instead, what’s needed is a genuinely interactive forum that exposes leaders to the heartfelt concerns and burning questions out there in the organisation – and gives them a platform to respond in the moment and in a highly visible way.

In our approach to designing and facilitating conferences, we always look for ways to generate this kind of dialogue. At a recent event for the R&D arm of a major pharma, we asked participants to note on Post-Its the barriers to success that kept them awake at night. Live on stage, we put these barriers into categories and voted for the top five. We then formed impromptu work groups, each including a member of the top team, to define the essence of the problem and develop solutions. This triggered some frank and lively debate. Importantly, a common theme emerged: a serious lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities. This was put right and the results communicated throughout the organisation.

In this digital age, we also use the latest audience interaction technology to facilitate dialogue. In partnership with Crystal Interactive, we get participants to use iPads to voice their concerns and questions, as well as identify and prioritise potential solutions.

The data generated can form the basis of some powerful engagement between leaders and participants. Such openness can create a bumpy ride for leaders, but the emotionally intelligent ones are comfortable in this edgy environment and relish the opportunity to understand – and then be understood.

In a recent event we ran for a client in the Middle East, the chief executive dropped his normally unflappable and reserved demeanour after hearing the candid views of his colleagues through an open forum. He got very passionate about what the organisation had achieved and the direction it needed to go; and asserted some home truths about the perils of the status quo. What he said was very challenging to some of those present, but even so was welcomed as honest and heartfelt.

I saw his response as highly emotionally intelligent; discovering the reluctance and caution among his colleagues prompted a heated – and effective – response. For me, EQ does not mean skirting difficult issues or treating people with kid gloves for fear of hurting their feelings. It can mean being robust and direct – even if that does take others out of their comfort zone.

Helping leaders engage with EQ

Sounding boards and interactive events are just two ways of helping leaders tap the often hidden thoughts and feelings of others and of facilitating the emotionally intelligent leadership so crucial to engaging employees in implementing change. There are, of course, other ways, too. Whatever approach you take, the principle is the same: Help leaders to attune to the real-life problems and concerns of employees and to address them in an honest and credible way.

A version of this post by Chris Carey first appeared in The e.MILE People Development Magazine

Event Selfies Exposed Blog Image

Event Selfies Exposed

We love taking and sharing pictures and selfies in particular. The huge popularity of Facebook and Instagram for picture sharing show just how much we enjoy communicating visually.

The definition of a selfie is a picture that you take of yourself, typically the picture is taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.

Selfie of the Year

Selfie was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013 beating such delights as binge-watch, schmeat and twerk.

How do you know when an activity has achieved critical mass? I think it’s when the noun earns it’s own entry in the OED, has a smartphone created specifically for it and it’s made the subject of a Hollywood TV series.

Adrenaline Junkies

Some selfie junkies are even ready to risk injury to capture the perfect sporting selfie. During Le Tour de France 2014, as the peleton approached, spectators were seen leaning backwards into the road, arm aloft holding their smartphone, taking an action selfie.

The most retweeted photo post of all Twitter time (3.4m), which currently is the only digital time worth mentioning, is Ellen DeGeneres’ A Lister selfie from the Oscars 2014.

Selfie Drones

Have you ever worried that your arm’s length reduced the quality of your selfie image? (Indeed Ellen commented on the length of Bradley’s arm in the aforementioned record breaking tweet.)

Now Ellen and other selfie lovers need worry no more. A company is merging cutting edge technologies to bring us the Selfie Snapping Drone. Launched from your wrist, the drone hovers just far enough away from your face to take the perfect selfie.

Event Selfies Framed

Where Hollywood A Listers go, delegates follow and that’s certainly true when it comes to Event Selfies. Event Selfies are a hit with delegates, and a number of new specific specialised event services have sprung up including Eversnap and Eventstagram.

Here are some of the ways Event Selfies can be used to increase engagement.

1. Selfies are a visual measure of engagement with event content, particularly at exhibitions.

2. Increase engagement with group selfies, from table group activities or team building.

3. Make taking and sharing selfies part of the exhibitions and run competitions around them.

4. Gamify selfies by offering rewards for more posts, most likes, most comments.

5. As part of a evening engagement, with a prize for best group and individual selfie.

6. Selfie caption competition.

7. Start taking Event Selfies, just don’t get over exposed.

Instant Infographics Process Blog Image

Instant Infographics

Infographics have rapidly become a great way of sharing content simply and easily. So I’m excited to introduce Instant Infographics – a new way to share content created in real time at your event.

The best infographics make even the most impenetrable data understandable. Even better, infographics as pieces of content or inbound marketing can be rapidly and easily shared on social sites raising awareness far and wide.

We have developed a way to enable your delegates to provide survey results which then create an attractive infographic in real time at your event.

Instant Infographics In 3 Easy Steps

Create an Instant Infographic from real time delegate feedback to amplify your key event messages and outcomes fast.

With our interactive technology and some good planning it’s possible to create an attractive and insightful Instant Infographic live during your event.

Step 1: Event delegates submit their survey responses using our Event App.

Step 2: From the results, our operator then creates the Infographic using pre-agreed templates.

Step 3: The Infographic is published in the desired format and shared on appropriate social sites by you, also encouraging your delegates to reshare and download the content.

Instant Infographics enables real time amplification of your event’s key messages and outcomes.

More Collaboration Means Greater Engagement

But don’t stop there.

Our collaboration tools also enable you to invite delegates to Ask Questions, Vote (with Pop Up instant vote), Brainstorm, Theme, Comment with Liking of inputs and comments.

Only Crystal’s collaboration tools provide the scope and flexibility to ensure full participation from your delegates.

Don’t Wait, Create An Instant Infographic

We’re really excited about this new way of creating and sharing real time delegate content in an instant. We think it’s a great way to share delegate generated content and amplify your key messages.

Contact me to find out about this unique service and much more, call 020 3176 2000 or email