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Event Tech Live - Impressions from my first virtual event.

I've just attended my first virtual event. The sessions on offer at Event Tech Live (still running as I write this) were too tempting to pass up. Registering fashionably late turned out to be no problem and by yesterday afternoon I was browsing the schedules for today when Richard John's talk, "A Luddite's guide to technology" popped up.

Tile from ETL

I'm no Luddite, and I've always loved tech, from our first VHS recorder in 1978 to my pocket camera drone, but I used to find it strange when other people don't share my curiosity, enthusiasm and desire to "know how it works". In the past, I've tried to convince people of the value of particular technological solutions and been met with inexplicable resistance, even though the case for adoption seemed completely self-evident to me.

What I've come to realise about "Luddites" was neatly summed up in Richard's concise and engaging presentation, and he gave some solid practical advice on how to get people on board with new tech when they're not the kind of person who naturally gravitates towards digital and technological solutions.

Richard opened with what motivates this techno-fear, and how it manifests itself in common scenarios. Objections to adopting or buying new tech often rest heavily on emotional reactions, rather than genuine obstacles. There's a lot of fear around tech, but explaining how it works, or how clever/fast/capable it is, does little to allay those fears.

Richard's solution is to stop bashing colleagues and clients over the head with facts, and instead appeal to their imagination and emotion, by doing that thing we do in PR all the time - tell stories. Here, Richard is asking us to tell stories that address those common fears, create narratives where technological solutions bring about success, happiness, relaxation.

He made the important point that word choice matters, and that it's best to invite people to imagine a better/faster/more economical way of doing things. By doing this we are setting up a positive expectation, appealing to emotions and, at the same time, creating perceived value - which is an important factor when the subject of cost is considered. Good tech, the stuff that works, works because it is simple and easy for the end-users. Complexity is sometimes trumpeted as a benefit because it suggests that the tech is very technical, but for the end-user, simplicity and fluency wins.

He explained that if the value of tech is not established, then it is impossible to judge whether it is 'expensive' when it comes to discussing tech budgets. 

It was a great presentation by Richard - and thanks to ETL for putting on such a varied and appealing virtual event that was simple to access, yet offered a wealth of choice.

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