Best Practices

5 tips to tackle your event strategy in 2021

Whether it’s virtual, hybrid, or in-person, your audience will expect more from your event this year than they ever did before 2020. Pressure is ON!

But don’t stress. Since the crisis hit, our teams have been reimagining approaches, test-driving new ideas and tech, gathering data, and developing best practices to help you slide into this new world, cool, calm, and collected.

All of this juicy intel helped us develop our recent workshop From Digital to Dazzling: Redefining Live Events for Today’s World at this year’s Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS). Whether you were able to join or not, we’ve boiled down the top takeaways.

Keep these 5 tips in mind as you plan, prepare, and propel your events this year and beyond:

1. Expectations are high, attention spans are short

We’ve heard about the goldfish attention span theory and whether it’s truly accurate or not, the point is well taken:

Everyone is swimming around distracted, so messages need to grab attention fast to sink in.

This doesn’t mean your audience is under water literally, but it does mean that they’re under water figuratively, so you must do more with less to hook attention (see what we did there?).

Moving forward, successful events will depend heavily on your ability to engage and entertain people in short bursts.

2. Production value isn’t just for movies and large, live events anymore

Planning a virtual or hybrid event? Production value plays a key role in how your audience will perceive the quality of your event. Picture quality, audio quality, back lighting, accent lighting, and LED walls are just a few ways to make sure your event content stands out.

The tech is crucial, but having the right partner to design, plan, test, troubleshoot, and produce your event flawlessly makes all the difference.

3. Hybrid isn’t new, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy

From award shows and the Super Bowl to global singing competitions, your audience has likely attended more hybrid events than they may realize. That doesn’t mean hybrid is always the right choice.

Align on your objectives before choosing how you’ll execute your event. Do you have multiple audiences? If yes, what does each group expect and how do their needs differ?

Hybrid is more than just broadcasting a live stream in addition to an in-person experience. It’s about creating the right experience for each medium and audience.

The most important part of those dual experiences? Relevant and engaging content.

4. Talent matters, both on-stage and off

Your team: Some of your crew may be out of their comfort zone as you innovate and digitize your event strategy. That’s okay. Lead with empathy by offering support and help as they navigate these new approaches. And if your speakers are still uncertain, support them with speaker training!

Encourage everyone involved to be flexible — we’re in a transition period so things change all the time. And make sure you’re communicating and checking in with them often.

Your partners: Nothing can make or break your event faster than the technology partners. Event platform, A/V, content production, logistics — the list goes on.

When choosing your partners, be sure to confirm their technical capabilities and experience, testing and QA processes, and how they handle on-the-fly change, because there will always be surprises and hiccups! The best way to tackle the unexpected is having the right partners by your side (and supporting you behind the scenes).

Your host(s): Hosts and emcees literally open your event and set the tone. Virtual or in person, attendees are looking for human connection. Prioritize casting friendly and energetic on-stage talent to complement your content strategy. Often those friendly, energetic types are in your own organization, which gives a human, authentic vibe.

5. Safety first

As you approach the return to hybrid and in-person events, remember your audience is excited — and apprehensive.

Design your event through the eyes of your attendees and get multiple perspectives along the way. Let your stakeholders review and poke holes in your plan before it’s finalized, then communicate those details thoroughly ahead of your event.

No event is perfect, but a thoughtful approach that prioritizes safety and the comfort of attendees will go a long way with your audience.

2020 may have thrown us a bunch of crazy curveballs, but it also gave us an opportunity to step back (as we dodged yet another ball) to rethink and innovate. We had some space to answer some big questions.

How has your event strategy changed in the last year?

How will you evolve moving forward?

How do you plan to introduce or reintroduce your brand to your audience?

Rest assured that you’ve asked the right questions and have the answers you need to meet and exceed those returning attendee expectations. And now you’ll be ready to welcome back audiences with any live in-person, virtual, or hybrid event.

Need some helpful hybrid guidance?

Our new workbook can help you make a plan for the best of both worlds!

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