As an active participant in UNTETHERED, a group created by and for event industry professionals, I was among the disappointed when the COVID-19 Delta variant blew up plans for our fall hybrid gathering.
With just two weeks to go before I’d planned to reconnect and recharge with my peers in-person, I can’t lie: while my rational side knew it was the right (safe!) thing to do, it wasn’t news I wanted to hear!
So when the event organizers decided to do a 180 from a 3-day hybrid to a 1-day virtual event, I was glad to jump in and help them kick off the UNTETHERED Studio Tours. Because we streamed key parts of the event live from our Portland studio, I was there as an AV production expert, not an attendee — but when I watched the footage later, I found so many great discussions around how we can co-create the future of events.
Below, we’re sharing five takeaways that struck us as we listened to Allie Magyar (Chief Product Officer, Intrado and the force behind UNTETHERED) interview the day’s keynote speaker, Will Curran (Chief Event Einstein, Endless Events).
Event Industry Pros Share 5 Ways to Prep for 2022
Act on what event data tells you — and try not to take it personally.
Allie advocated for reframing event data that’s hard to take. “We argue with the data because we feel like we’re failing. Flip the script — see it as telling you what people are really caring about.” Will agreed, adding, “Let ego go; let technology help drive ways to make events better.”
Don’t fall into the trap of wishful thinking.
The industry’s changed: we’ll never be back to how things were. Our community needs to continue to experiment and build resilience; that means accepting failure, regrouping, and trying again.
Take in new ideas, but know when to say no.
What works for others may not work for you, your clients, or your attendees. Don’t compare yourself to what or how others are doing. Allie encourages maintaining pandemic-era changes that elevate your event, stating, “Before COVID-19, I would never have produced an event and said let’s bring speakers in remotely.” Now, she sees how it expands inclusivity.
Build in time to think — schedule it like any other task.
Emails, meetings, and constant decisions all put you in reactive mode. Block out a chunk of time, preferably while “off the grid,” to mull over strategic or creative options. It’s a tactic that supports both your business and your personal wellness.
Remember that our pandemic-era reactions are more universal than unique.
We need to remember that our prospective attendees may be feeling overscheduled, uncertain, frustrated, scared, and overwhelmed just like us — which means tailoring our programming to reflect that. Will noted that traditionally, meeting planners have had expectations about how attendees would behave. Now, it’s time to “focus on attendees and how you’re going to do something differently for them.” Providing on-demand content and longer breaks between sessions are just two ways to address new realities.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I’m grateful for this sense of community, which feels like a safety net underneath the tightrope of uncertainty.
We enjoyed running the technical side of an event that celebrated event planners’ continued resilience and ability to rise to today’s complex challenges and look forward to more UNTETHERED events!
If producing a hybrid event is something you are planning, you might also enjoy these segments from my recent Untethered “Production in the Age of Hybrid Events” webinar: