Insights from CES 2022 | Featuring: Cramer’s Joe Case, Creative Director and James Kotecki, VP, Brand at Infinia ML, and Host of the C Space Studio

EPISODE 13: Insights from CES 2022 | PODCAST

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Show Notes:

Today is a special episode recording out of Las Vegas sharing observations and key takeaways from CES 2022. This year’s CES once again returned in person. Cramer’s Joe Case and C Space Host, James Kotecki, VP, Brand at Infinia ML, discuss the changing rules and priorities for in-person experiences and dig into what it means to truly engage your audience.

Transcript:

 

James Kotecki:

Hi, I’m James Kotecki the host of the C space studio at CES. And this is CES 2022. This is the fifth year that I’ve been working with Cramer to host these interviews. And I’m so excited about it every year. And the reason is because Cramer does a great job of putting them on. And I’m rambling a little bit because this is something new we’ve never done before, is to have a member of the Cramer team on the stage with me, just to explore a little bit about what this means, what this event means. So Joe Case is creative director, a pleasure to have you up on stage.

Joe Case:

Hey it’s a pleasure to be here. I’ve been watching these conversations you’ve been having over the course of two days. I’ve been learning a lot from you, and just so impressed by your consistent level of energy, and engagement. Granted, the people you’re interviewing are very interesting, knowledgeable.

James Kotecki:

Well thank you so much. If only I’d saved any energy for this conversation.

Joe Case:

It’s all right. You know, I can take most of the load if you want.

James Kotecki:

So what are you up to here at CES? What have you been finding?

Joe Case:

I’m a creative director, relatively new to the event space, actually. My background is in video. So I’m really here to sort of take it all in, observe as much as possible, without being overwhelmed, which is a distinct possibility with sort of all the offerings there are. And just sort of take it back, observe and report. Just the amount of spectacle, you see it at the keynotes, and on the trade show floor, just taking it all in. And kind of coming up with a perspective that we can then pass on to some of the clients that we work with for their in-person events, and virtual events.

James Kotecki:

So let’s talk about what you’ve seen in the C-Space studio, looking at it from your lens as a creative director, because this is obviously a format that could be ported over to other kinds of events. How do you see this?

Joe Case:

Well, first and foremost, I think, being back in an in-person environment, I think that for a lot of people that you’re talking to, it would seem, this is the first time they’re gathering with other people. And they’re gathering in ballrooms for the first time in a long time. So I think just being comfortable with it, and being ready for it, and being excited by it. I think this is proof that you really… and in fact, we do have some in person events coming up. Just that it’s happening and the scale hasn’t changed. In fact, I think because, this is a first in-person for a long time. There’s more. There’s more to see, there’s more to do, the level engagement is higher.

James Kotecki:

And of course there’s a lot of safety protocols here at CES 2022, behind the scenes that you don’t see on the camera right now. This looks kind of like any other year’s conversation, I suppose, to someone just watching the video. But of course, as soon as it stops, we’re all wearing masks. We’ve all been vaccinated, et cetera, et cetera. And so it’s being done in a safe way.

Joe Case:

Yeah.

James Kotecki:

But yeah, there absolutely is nothing like being in person. I completely agree. It’s so nice to be back.

Joe Case:

And I think all those things you just talked about need to be incorporated, and are being incorporated into the in-person experiences so that people can feel comfortable. They can feel relaxed. They can, I think, be not be distracted by the circumstances that are swirling around outside of the ballrooms.

James Kotecki:

Yeah. And I’ll just tell you as a host, I’ve done a lot of conversations, like many people have, over Zoom, and other tools like that. There’s nothing like the ability to read someone’s body language.

Joe Case:

Right.

James Kotecki:

Or even just frankly, to not have to look directly at someone’s face the whole time.

Joe Case:

Right.

James Kotecki:

I’m just noticing when I’m in here, I’m looking… Sometimes I’m not looking at the sky, but I’m never typically like looking dead in the eye of the person the whole time.

Joe Case:

Right.

James Kotecki:

But on Zoom, it kind of feels like sometimes you have to do that.

Joe Case:

Let’s be honest. We’re all looking at ourselves. [crosstalk 00:03:57]

James Kotecki:

Exactly. Where’s the square that’s supposed to show me how I’m looking.

Joe Case:

That’s all I’m looking at, right.

James Kotecki:

I’m really missing that. Do you incorporate this kind of interview format into other events that you produce?

Joe Case:

Like I said, I’m relatively new to the live event space, which is why this event in particular is so valuable. Because there’s such a variety of experiences going on. And yes, I think Cramer has a long history of… We produce this, of doing this kind of thing. But I think this is just one of a great variety of offerings, of content offerings, that you can propose to clients looking to have an in-person. I think just that access. I think this falls under the category of helping your audience, your event attendee, feel like they’re contributing in some ways to the experience, contributing knowledge. Which I think, I’m starting to come away with some takeaways on what… It was a question I think that was brought up in the first conversation you had with the founder of Around AR.

James Kotecki:

Yeah.

Joe Case:

The question you sort of left it with was, “How do you engage an audience?” And I think one of those things that I’m starting to feel is helping them contribute in some way. And I think that’s sort of vague, but this feels like a part of that. And I think that’s another criteria for engaging audiences is giving them opportunities to grow as well.

James Kotecki:

I Feel like the word engagement is often a little bit vague. Every single company, every brand, every app wants to feel like they’re engaging people. And as I think about what it means to me, if I have felt engaged at an event, I’m walking out of that event and there is a certain feeling. It’s hard to describe it. It’s hard to put my finger on it. There’s this feeling of elevation of education. I get a little bit of a buzz, I suppose, after I walk out of that ballroom and I have actually felt engaged. Do you have a specific definition of what that means?

Joe Case:

I mean, I’m starting to think of it in one aspect of it is growth. I think it’s you’re learning something. You’re connecting with people that could potentially… Not to capitalize on those connections. I think that’s a big part of it. And I think that engagement… There’s some entertainment value too. It’s got to be relevant. Entertainment is broad. It could be funny, exhilarating, exciting, give you an adrenaline rush. But if it’s not relevant to the content, it could really feel sort of off.

James Kotecki:

Yeah.

Joe Case:

So I think that’s another factor of engagement is I can’t check my phone right now because what’s going on in front of me is so darn interesting. I can’t take my eyes off it. So that’s another factor of engagement.

James Kotecki:

I’ve been entertained. I was interested. I was educated. And I’m walking out of there a little bit better of a person in my own view.

Joe Case:

I think that third category of contribution, that’s probably the one that’s probably hardest to achieve. And I think, again, this conversation is helping people feel like they contribute. I think that’s a thing that people that are hosting events should really think more about interesting ways to help their audience contribute.

James Kotecki:

And this is actually a great way to do that. So not only are we able to… of course people can comment on this, and watch this on social media and kind of engage with the content that way. But the people who sit in that chair, some of them do, and some of them don’t speak at other sites here at CES. This effectively becomes another stage for them.

Joe Case:

Right. Yeah.

James Kotecki:

And also they don’t have to prepare some incredible speech or some incredible talk. They get the ability to sit on a stage, to be a thought leader, to engage with their audiences. The fact that this looks nice, and this is set up well, and it’s well lit and everything else like that. I think all that real really matters, because it helps the people who sit in that chair come away feeling like they had an elevated experience.

Joe Case:

Yeah. And I think this is great for the audience too, in this moment right now. And I think the audience would feel this in conversations that are like this, that are happening in sessions, in keynotes. That real exchange of ideas is happening in the moment. This isn’t choreographed this isn’t… We didn’t talk about this previously.

James Kotecki:

Well this is the least choreographed at all, actually.

Joe Case:

Right. Right.

James Kotecki:

We’re definitely having fun in this one.

Joe Case:

But I think that’s what’s unique. One of those aspects that is completely unique to the… Well, I shouldn’t say that because this is part of the stream too, of the in-person event where it feels like this could not be pre… It could be prerecorded, but I think this is…

James Kotecki:

Something you can’t get anywhere else.

Joe Case:

Something you can’t get anywhere else.

James Kotecki:

Yeah, exactly. Joe Case, Creative Director at Cramer, any final thoughts to close us out?

Joe Case:

I think that hopefully that when in-person events do come back full steam, people who are putting them on are really going to think about what’s unique. What can be achieved in an in-person event that can’t be replicated virtually? And focus on that, and emphasize that, punctuate that, so that in person event feels refreshing when people come back to it. Just like this has, I think for a lot of people.

James Kotecki:

Yeah. Joe Case of Cramer. Thanks so much for chatting up here and thanks to Cramer for all the work they do every year to help with put this on.

Joe Case:

Thanks, James. Great to meet you.

James Kotecki:

I’m James Kotecki, and that’s a wrap.

 

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