Ask people what they take away from a conference and you can guarantee that whether they mention specific learning points, a great interaction, a new connection, they will also take away a stack of paper. You might be shocked at the amount of paper a conference generates – but it’s not all doom and gloom. Advances in technology mean that it is possible, with a little careful planning, to run a conference on a more environmentally-friendly and cost effective basis – especially as many of the delegates will come with their own portable electronic devices, ideal for storing conference information.

Here are 10 things to consider to help make your next conference completely paper-free… 

1. Help delegates with paper free technology
The thought of allowing delegates to leave your conference facilities without a shred of paper may feel distinctly uncomfortable, but it really does make sense. How many of us continue to refer to paper in our daily working lives? With many of us hot-desking, or working in open plan environments, and given the premium that is now placed on ‘space’, the chances are that all that carefully compiled paper documentation will end up at best in a dusty file, or, more likely, in the recycling bin. Instead, consider a website with all the conference information contained on it that your delegates can log into using codes obtained whilst at the conference, with a list of handy apps they may wish to use whilst at your conference, such as Evernote, which is ideal for taking home notes from lectures without having to decipher your handwriting later on.

2. Capitalise on smart phone technology
Core information is held on smartphones and tablets or laptops, and it makes sense to utilise developments in software, new apps and other technologies for conferences. By using the latest software, delegates can assimilate the conferences they attend in a far more meaningful way to their daily lives. Whether you use Twitter to give out real time updates on the conference schedule, or allow delegates to listen to the speeches again via Overcast, make the initial connection via electronic means, and you’ll set the stage for a paper free conference from the get-go.

3. Get your speakers on board
The technology exists that can make your conference truly paper-free – one thing to remember though is that your speakers need to be on board. Remember to update them so that they know to provide electronic versions of their slides and any other materials, ready to be uploaded. Apps such as Keynote allow speakers to create an enticing, engaging and completely digital presentation – and if you want to share your presentation with the wider community after the event, then SlideShare can help you to do just that.

4. Near Field Communication with a tap of the phone
NFC (Near Field Communication) may sound like a mouthful but it’s a technology that makes checking in at a conference paper free and hassle free – all with a mobile phone. NFC can also be used to log delegates on to Wi-Fi without the need to use cards with the network code. App technology such as InstaWifi for Android allows attendees to scan a QR code (there are plenty of readers available for free, such as QR Reader for iPhone) and be instantly connected to Wi-Fi.

5. Revolutionise conferencing with live slide sharing!
One of the key elements of a successful conference is interaction and engagement – and slide-sharing technology now delivers this seamlessly. One such application, Prezentt, works on any device with a browser, allowing presenters to connect with their audiences over multiple platforms, and audiences to take conference papers away in electronic format.

6. Say “Bye bye” to business cards
Social media, whether it’s a LinkedIn profile, or a full house of platforms, is a crucial way to connect in the business word of today. Rather than exchanging business cards, use app technology that allows conference delegates to connect over social platforms during and after the conference.

7. Event apps for administration
It’s not just the content of the conference that can be transformed to paper-free using new technology and software. Mobile event applications such as those available at EventEdge can offer an alternative to printed conference programmes and joining instructions, putting conference content into the palms of your delegates’ hands (rather than expecting them to leaf through sheets of paper).

8. Update event schedules in real time
Another advantage of using app technology and conferencing apps means that you can keep the event up to date quickly and efficiently, re-organising, and making any last minute schedule changes that might become necessary – for example if a speaker is running late. Some apps allow delegates to create their own personal agendas, sorting information by session, date and time.

9. Use feedback apps
Take the strain out of the post-conference feedback process by utilising software that allows delegates to send in their feedback digitally, such as Surveyswipe or Notable. No need for additional sheets of paper – the technology exists to make this happen, and delegates can even offer feedback on the commute back home after the conference, meaning organisers aren’t having to wait too long to see whether the conference was a success.

10. Allow them to rebook quickly for next time
If you have dates pencilled in for your next conference, and want to create a buzz, why not offer attendees the chance to book in, while the success of this conference in already in their mind. Websites such as Eventbrite allow you to sell tickets online for any event you manage, evvnt are integrated with Eventbrite which is super handy, so why not capitalise on the wave of enthusiasm at this year’s paperless conference, by selling digital tickets to the next!

With all this technology here to help, you too could make your next conference completely paperless and further enhance your green credentials!

Are you thinking about going green for your events? Or are you already putting this into practice? Tell us below in the comments section how going paperless has worked for you…

This post was written for evvnt by guest blogger Dean Ronnie – Working on behalf of Conference Care in the UK, Dean writes passionately on the subject of events and in particular, event technology. With a strong interest in technology, Dean is constantly investigating the ways in which technology can transform events and help us further engage our delegates. Follow him on Twitter @OfficialDeanR