The world of events has changed forever. After a year of lockdown, we’ve all got used to live at a distance. And a wealth of new technology and creative possibility means producing an event doesn’t start with a choice between in-person or virtual — it could be a smart blend of both.
So, as you plan your next live conference, presentation, launch or get together, what do you need to consider?
5 things we’ve learned about how events work now
Throughout lockdown, we’ve produced dozens of live events – in-person, online and hybrid. Here's what we've discovered about the new balance between in-person and virtual communication.
1. Everything’s different now
There’s no turning back. Now we've proven how working and meeting virtually can be productive and cost-effective, events can’t function like they used to.
So an in-person event needs to offer more good reasons than ever to justify booking a train ticket or a hotel room.
And a virtual event needs to work harder to hold our attention in a calendar filled with Teams calls and Zoom meetings.
That means more impactful, shorter run-time content. Sharpening the focus of an event so you’re really clear about what you want to achieve – and communicating it effectively to attendees. Not just tweaking how you worked before, but rethinking the balance and form of your whole event.
2. Embracing the power of now
What makes an event an event? It’s the powerful moments we all share together.
Nothing beats the thrill of a live event unfolding in front of us. Studies report three times the engagement for live over recorded content, even when it's happening online.
So every event needs to be shaped to make the most out of your unmissable live content – creating shared experiences that reward participation, like revealing exclusive information or being the first to know.
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the last two days – the set-up from the team at Linney was outstanding. The content, presentations and group discussions were excellent and will set us up well for a really strong planning cycle again this year.”
3. We love the freedom to choose
Now we've all sat through family Zoom quizzes and endless Teams calls, we know exactly what will hold our attention and what doesn't. And it’s not the same for everyone.
Rethinking how delegates will best experience your event means considering all the ways you can communicate.
Offering a choice of how they consume your content can increase engagement and participation. Try catch-up sessions, on-demand content, or audio and video cut-downs and recaps.
4. It’s time to get personal
It's ironic. The more separated we've become geographically, the easier it's been to create a distinct event for everyone.
Using data about your audience allows you to segment and customise your content to provide a tailor-made event experience. It will also help them connect through digital matchmaking and networking before, during and after the event.
And it doesn’t only work virtually. Clever data-tagging can mean bringing the same hyper-personalised experience when your guests meet face to face.
“A massive thank you to all for making today such an outstanding success as without your creative expertise and council along the way, we wouldn't have been able to land such an incredible event.”
Chief Commercial Officer
5. Not everything’s made for sharing
When you invite in-person and virtual audiences to the same event, one single format won’t work for everyone.
The things that will engage people gathered together in a conference centre or hotel are very different to what will cut through at home or in a busy office. Understanding the difference means you can create the right content for the right environment.
A shared connected experience, based around a central online networking space, makes sense at the heart of your event. But compelling parallel experiences for different audiences will make the best event for both kinds of audience.