What if bringing the next big thing in conference and corporate meeting technology to your event wouldn’t add to your budget? No need to find a vendor or even sign a contract. Your organization already has access to it, but it is likely not being utilized. The next change on the horizon for conference and meeting technology, isn’t actually technological at all. Meeting industry pace setters have done more than a little homework and are now offering:


The motivation behind the movement
As life and technology evolve, society experiences a steep learning curve. It’s almost unbelievable that less than twenty years ago only an estimated seven hundred and fifty million people worldwide (12.5% of the global population in 2000) had a cell phone. Currently (hey 2019, how you doin’?) that number tops out at five billion people, or 65% of the current global population. And while the palm and blackberry had their day in the sun, the launch of the iPhone in 2007 takes us down to 12 years of intense, immediate, technological access, growth and integration.

How does a society understand the impact of new technology when it is so quickly adapted and rapidly changing? Society waits and observes. Then observations lead to scientific studies, and studies equal data. One set of initial findings from a Rutgers University study suggests that even the presence of a cell phone or laptop in a class lecture hall caused a decrease in long term retention of information and final test performance.

How this ties in to your corporate meeting or event
These initial results indicate that the screen activity of just one audience member during a breakout, keynote, learning event, or presentation has a direct impact on other audience members. Even the minor distraction of someone else’s lit screen can take away from what a screen free audience member is getting out of your content. There’s already a name for it: Secondhand Screen Time.

What to do now
Secondhand screen time is being addressed in a lot of the ways public spaces initially addressed secondhand smoke. While the study didn’t test this approach, many forward–thinking event and conference producers are making screen free sections in the front of the room. The thought behind this: if other people’s distracting screens are behind you, then you aren’t being distracted by them. Conferences have even incorporated Screen Free zones on trade show floors, screen free learning and breakout sessions, and screen free networking events.

But what about your hashtag, social media, live casting, and influencers?
A well rounded event has time for screens and time for uninterrupted content. A well rounded and well marketed event has a unique and impactful area where attendees want to take photos they can share. For meaningful learning and content delivery, people are coming back around to the importance of being present. Attendees want to look someone in the eye and witness an event without the distraction of their smartphone. There is a reason why people hire professionals like photographers and videographers to document important life events: because the people who need to see that event, hear that message, or feel that impact can’t do it from behind a screen.

In closing, don’t cut back on your wifi coverage
The rules and expectations around technology are constantly changing, but one thing will continue to remain the same: eventually people are going to want their screen time and they are going to want it fast and reliable. Mapping out your event with Screen Free seating areas and events is a forward thinking step that demonstrates your organization has up to date knowledge of the ever changing world of technology offerings, but also technology pitfalls. More importantly you are actively demonstrating the value you place on the experience and knowledge you are providing to your attendees.


Having trouble wrapping your mind around what “screen free” would look like at your next conference, meeting or corporate event? Reach out to us at info@coteriespark.com for a complimentary consultation about what kind of screen free options can realistically be incorporated into your program.