Part 1: Rethinking Live Events - To Virtual or Not to Virtual
Reimagining live events, meetings and conferences has been a debated topic in the events industry for several years. Yet, despite all these conversations, we couldn’t quite make the shift. General sessions, breakouts, presenters, PowerPoints, and keynotes – it was hard to break the pattern.
Then, we were all forced into a position where it was pivot, or fade into irrelevancy. We were given an opportunity to completely rethink the way we have been doing events, to reevaluate our approach.
Many conferences have gone virtual… and that is a start. It speaks to a new generation of attendees, platforms, and possibilities. But people still believe nothing beats face-to-face engagement for learning and connection. Just because you can do virtual, it doesn’t mean you should. Not every event will translate over to a digital one.
Whether it is a virtual, live, or virtual-live hybrid event, our goal is to build in opportunities for engagement. We cannot simply replace the live event with a virtual event and expect attendees to be engaged from their laptop the same way they would when networking in person.
We have the opportunity, now more than ever, to put ourselves in our attendee’s shoes. What would be engaging to you from home right now? How can you bring this content to life, or does it need to be changed? Being thoughtful about content, how and what to display, whether content is interactive--thinking through the process of creating an engaging virtual event will only help us to improve future live events.
How do we use virtual experiences and in-person experiences as part of the same “conference?” How do we shift in-person experiences to speak to today’s new audience?
To start the brainstorming …
- What if attendance was smaller? More intimate?
- What if it allowed for conversation and less traditional instruction?
- What if events weren’t held in ballrooms and convention centers?
- What if the rooms weren’t square/rectangular?
- What if people didn’t sit in chairs?
- What if attendees were involved and able to interact?
- What if presenters didn’t present in the traditional sense?
If we are going to help our clients change the status quo, it should start with building a better shared experience. We should be reimagining the experience we want our clients and their attendees to have. There isn’t just one answer. There isn’t just one new format. This is truly the transformation of an industry.
As we plan future events, being intentional is critical to bring about change.
- Who is your target market?
- What are the factors impacting them right now?
- Who is your audience?
- How has your audience changed?
- How can we build opportunities for engagement?
- How can we build new revenue streams?
- How do your engagement goals translate to a new "global" audience?
- How can we create a new experience to speak to all of that?
- Technology will be a huge part of the answer and there are so many things that can intentionally facilitate that conversation … but what else?
Now, let’s break the box. Start brainstorming with your teams. Let your minds wander. Don’t think outside of the box--break the box.
This is our chance to truly transform the event world.