As we progress towards the end of this year, we are looking at a very different world than when the year started, both personally and professionally. Our industry is still greatly impacted by situations that are seemingly out of our control, and as we all rush to find our “let’s fix-it” solutions (it’s what we event creators do every day after all), we may miss the opportunities a disruption of this magnitude can provide. As challenging as this has been and will continue to be – there are ways to emerge stronger than before with a more discerning lens as we gather in person once again to craft live experiences.
Where do we start?
“Staging great experiences is around intentional design.”- Joe Pine “Godfather of the Experience Economy” Interview on XM, 2019
When we consider re-imagining what an event could be, here are a few things to keep in mind as we move into the next “new normal”:
- Your online audience and in-person audience are both important and each deserve to be a major component of your attendee experience planning.
- Look for opportunities where the online attendee can literally affect or interact in a meaningful way with the audience that is in-person.
- › Start conversations ahead of time via social media and let them be part of the program building process.
- › Follow-up post event informed by what audiences interacted with digitally, and were most interested in.
- Build in moments of delight for your audience that are unexpected and ephemeral – just like in real life, some moments do not last forever but can make great stories to share with your buddies at the bar later.
- › Develop communication channels to break up the usual flow like combining live-streaming pre-recorded content, entertainment, networking, polls, etc.
- › Strive to break the "fourth wall" between the audience and presenter.
- › Strive to break the “fifth wall” between the in person and online attendees.
- The choice is no longer exclusively virtual or live, find ways to weave the most engaging elements of both into one seamless experience.
- Think of your event like a broadcast platform. For example, the Olympics or “Dick Clarks’ New Year Eve” (I’m dating myself) with content to keep them engaged and curious about what’s next.
- Keep things familiar and keep it simple – everyone interacts with content and technology in their own way, so create parts of your program where the attendee can customize their own experience.
- Right-size the experience to deliver goals most effectively.
- › Create bite-sized content with succinct and to-the-point messaging to keep the viewers interest. Attention spans are shorter, and attendees are used to short-form videos, align content accordingly so they don't prematurely leave the session or overall event.
- › Smaller, more localized events with tailored audiences in a specific region or demographic vs. giant global events.
- › Virtualizing event elements, like registration and sponsorship opportunities, in a new, exciting way with shareable content.