After a year without live events and the necessary pivot to virtual, the value of face-to-face meetings has never been clearer. Participants are much more likely to experience meaningful engagements when physically together. On site social interaction enhances human connections, reinforces trust, and strengthen alliances. But technology has reshaped attendee expectations. As travel slowly returns to normal, planners are considering new dimensions for future live events.
During the pandemic we learned that digital could enlarge audiences and improve opportunities for participant interaction in one-to-one meetings with speakers, exhibitors, and colleagues. Clearly, virtual meeting technology should continue to be embraced. Going forward virtual will allow audience participation to remain strong as live attendance normalizes eventually creating greater engagement and overall growth.
Post pandemic, the approach to program development must be wholistic and requires restating your organizations communication objectives and ROI goals. You may decide to produce fewer live events than you did pre-pandemic and focus on how to maximize your stakeholder’s live face to face time. A year of virtual meetings also reminded us of the critical importance of relevant and compelling content in promoting engagement. The challenge of delivering engaging content for both virtual and live audiences simultaneously is summed up in the axiom: 20 minutes of Live is equivalent to 10 minutes of Virtual.
To meet this challenge, trade associations must formulate a new 365 engagement strategy. Broadly, the path forward to Live is to create more meaningful face to face experiences in parallel with a digital channel. To accomplish this, meeting planners will need to function more as community builders than event organizers and collaborate closely with virtual technology companies.
In their book, “Reinventing Live”, Denzil Rankine and Marco Giberti have defined the future of events as “Always On”. Conventions and major conferences becomes the Live center piece of your communication strategy with follow on events, live or digital, as supporting pieces to strengthen your messaging and promote more engagement between all stakeholders.
Thus, your Live events are connected seamlessly with your organizations digital outreach working in tandem to achieve your overarching communication goals and building your community. Relevant content flows continuously offering participation, engagement, and social interaction. In this way your Live events continue virtually 365 and are in effect, “Always On.”