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LIVE Is Now: Design the time with depth and reach

By Bob Priest-Heck

We’ve been talking a lot about how the pandemic, although devastating, has uncovered countless opportunities to improve our lives and our businesses for the better. To say it’s been eye-opening is an understatement.

We know that live events are forever changed — looking back we can see many things we took for granted and assumed would never change. But here we are.

The time to redesign our approach is now. It’s an opportunity to redefine live, both in place and time.

But what does live really mean? And how will it exist in our new reality?

To answer these questions and explore future opportunities, we gathered some of today’s most creative minds for a series of enlightening roundtable discussions. These visionary thinkers come from a variety of backgrounds, from the creative agency world to immersive art, Imagineering to education, with a shared interest in and enthusiasm for the medium of live.

Focusing on the here and now

Freeman’s chief creative officer Bruce Mau kicked off the series by discussing the here-and-now aspect of live. He mentioned how the crisis has changed countless aspects of events, but the power of live — connecting with others in-person and digitally — remains steadfast.

So what makes live so powerful?

Bruce pointed out that live is a real-time experience. It’s happening now. There’s something special and also a little edgy about those moments — no editing, no do-overs. Live is authentic.

In the old days, we often overlooked the potential to design experiences with that real-time potential in mind. Planning events is a frenetic process with endless moving parts, so it made sense to focus on designing the space to attract and accommodate crowds. But since those shoulder-to-shoulder days are over for now, we have a chance to step back and rethink our approach.

Bringing events into the present moment

We need to focus on live as a time-based medium, no matter where it lives. By better designing that shared time, we propel the desired outcome. Consider Disneyland (how it used to be anyway) and how each moment, even standing in a long line, is designed for optimal joy and wonder. “Guests” (Imagineering speak for “visitors”) leave delighted and fulfilled, which means they’ll likely return again and again.

We are master planners and producers, but we’ve been focusing on the place — and square footage — instead of the moments. Moving forward we need to produce the best possible time for the highest value.

That means designing every moment of the experience, whether in person or online, to be both enjoyable and valuable.

We initially leaned into digital events and convening digitally to keep meaningful connections going, but we’ve learned that its limitless scope goes far beyond a one-off approach. Our ongoing research has revealed what works, what doesn’t, and why. The findings also reveal the shift to digital is more important than ever and will continue to be an integral part of tomorrow’s integrated events.

Taking a step back we can see that meeting face-to-face offers depth. It's a real-time connection in the same room. And now that we’ve been doing more online experiences, it’s clear that digital offers reach — not only gathering people from around the world, but continuing the connection year-round.

Together, depth and reach form the new medium of live going forward. The version of live that is now is evolving to an integrated mix of face-to-face and digital experiences that elevate year-round engagement, global reach, and meaningful value.

Ready to dive deeper into the evolving aspects of live?
Read our latest insights paper to explore new ideas now!
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