In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, health, science, and psychology writer Markham Heid explained some of the earliest origins of fear and uncertainty.
“The legendary horror author H.P. Lovecraft wrote that ‘the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’
What Lovecraft recognized — and decades of psychological research has borne out — is that the human brain is uniquely vulnerable to uncertainty… Some researchers have even argued that fear of the unknown is the bedrock fear that human beings experience — the one that gives rise to all other fears — and that a person’s ability to weather periods of uncertainty is a fundamental characteristic of a healthy, resilient mind.”
While event planning has always come with its fair share of the unknowns, the process of planning, organizing, promoting, and executing events has been dramatically transformed over the last two years.
Looking ahead to another year of uncertainty, how can planners and organizers manage whatever may come with their 2022 event strategy? We recommend you to start by asking these seven questions.
1. What is the why?
Event planning always starts with the why – what goals and objectives does the company want to achieve?
But beyond answering that question, add this variation of the “why” question to your planning discussion: why should a guest attend?
The pandemic has caused attendees to re-prioritize and be more selective about where to spend their time. And while many industry surveys indicate people want to meet, and we’ve heard about revenge travel, there is still a need to show a solid reason to attend.
This concept of “what’s in it for me?” applies to In-Person (IRL), hybrid and virtual events. Attendees expect to see exceptional engagement and real ROI for the time they spend with your organization. Without these compelling factors, there are countless other options competing for attendees’ time.
2. What is your virtual event strategy?
While conversations over the last few months have been focused on Delta and now Omicron, both are examples of the continuing uncertainty that may put F2F event plans on hold. As a result, it’s critical to have a strategy to engage audiences who may not be able (or want) to attend in-person.
Whether event plans will continue to be entirely virtual or trying out a new hybrid approach, having an event technology platform in place can provide flexibility if plans change. For example, an audience engagement platform like ConnexMe that can be accessed from any browser or device without installing any additional software makes it easy for attendees to participate no matter where they end up joining from.
3. How are you planning to engage with your audience?
As we’ve learned from nearly two years of non-stop, back-to-back virtual events, it’s easier for online audiences to get more distracted than they do when participating in-person.
To compete and thrive in a screen fatigue environment where everyone is juggling multiple priorities and is a click away from being disengaged, create an audience engagement plan. A few tips for raising your audience interaction game:
- If you haven’t already incorporated polls, it’s one of the easiest ways to get started.
- Tap into attendees’ competitive nature and try quizzes to drive interaction.
- Try collaborative brainstorming with voting
And as engagement preferences, best practices, and opportunities continue to evolve in virtual events, extend those learnings to virtual and hybrid formats too.
4. How will you WOW your audience?
With the loss of connections over the last several years, audiences are looking for events to provide them with an experience – something they can’t get from traditional digital content on YouTube.
Whether it’s helping participants connect and network in meaningful ways, the ability to hear from new voices, delivering compelling storytelling or better production quality, or another “wow” factor, it’s critical to leave attendees with a long-lasting impression – no matter if it’s a virtual or hybrid experience.
5. Does your technology platform streamline your planning processes?
Managing the details of any event takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources. But even as planners have been pushed to the limit these last two years, roles and responsibilities are continually being added to already lengthy to-do lists.
Look for integrated event technology solutions that support goals and objectives but aren’t complicated to incorporate or require intensive time and energy to learn another new technology. Technology that is easy to use, simple, and intuitive will streamline the planning process.
6. Do you need help to execute your event vision?
There are a lot of misconceptions about hosting virtual and hybrid events. There are many new components and challenges connected to creating an excellent experience for attendees, speakers, and key stakeholders.
Rather than stretching already stressed teams even further, identify early in the planning process if help is needed to support your vision – especially on the technology front.
Don’t be afraid to leverage your supporting partners’ customer success teams for the best success.
7. What does your data tell you?
As American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie wrote, “The past is where you learned the lesson. The future is where you apply the lesson.”
With all of the data available through virtual and hybrid events, leverage this valuable information during the planning process to better understand your audiences’ needs and wants and deliver a standout event.
For example, review past data like the content driving the most engagement or interaction, length and level of participation, responses to polls and surveys, and more to inform future event plans.
The pandemic has driven significant shifts to the event planning process and will continue to do so moving forward. Incorporating these questions into the event planning process can help manage the likely uncertainty ahead.
Let’s chat for more information about how Evenium can support you with your virtual, hybrid, and in-person goals in 2022!