EventMB is the world’s most respected online resource for event professionals. Our CEO, had the pleasure to speak for a second time at an EventMB event. Event App Bible LIVE was a 3-hour event where industry experts had rapid fire discussions around the latest event technology trends, sharing advice for discovering, selecting, and making mobile apps the backbone of your event tech stack. Taylor presented on the strategy and innovation needed around connection and thoughtful networking opportunities for virtual and hybrid events!
Here’s an abbreviated recap of the 10 minute Q&A session. Be sure to check out all the awesome sessions from the event on-demand!
“What a great question Dylan. Listen, I’m an event producer. So the majority of my job is focused on the storytelling components of a particular program and the production quality of the broadcast, but I’ll be the first to tell my clients that proper engagement and offering thoughtful networking opportunities are the biggest differentiator between an on-demand webinar or a series of youtube videos, and a living breathing needle-moving event.
The Great Virtual Pivot of 2020 has been incredible because its blurred the lines of what an event can and should be, and I’m HERE FOR IT for sustainability efforts alone, but as we move forward we as event professionals need to demand innovation from the event platform and event app tech companies out there around this very component.
Easy to use platforms, UX, reliable engagement tools like Q&A, polling was the expectations or bar we set in 2020. But now we need innovation with relationship building. Because this is where the power of our events truly comes from in the first place.
There will inevitably be some form of knowledge transfer at an event. Some type of content and information conveyed that the attendees will need to put into action Whether they are required or inspired to do this varies… but It’s really all about the PEOPLE that help us DO something with all of this info we received. This may be in the form of an accountability partner, a cheerleader, a buyer, a supplier, a friend.
I love the saying — Motivation is what gets us started. Habits are what keep us going.
Well the great keynotes are the motivation. Community is what helps us change and form the habits that make a difference.
And I know you asked about is there an appetite for connecting these audiences together? Well to me, there should be. Because we now as an industry are FULLY aware that virtual events are powerful because they help us widen the tent in terms of presenter reach and audience size, so WHY NOT empower conversations between audience types? But this is why I say we need to demand innovation and curate meaningful experiences because it can’t simply be “Book your One-on-one with a virtual attendee now” and then ask our in-person audience to do this on their phones as they meander around the convention center. There’s no motivation for them to do so. That’s going to be a miss.”
“What I’m hearing from clients during the ideation phase now that we all have virtual event experience under our belts, the biggest challenge, is not the LACK of tech or tools available to them that’s the problem, but the rather the ADOPTION of them.
They are having trouble with attendees using the networking, or opting into these speed dating experiences, taking the time to fill out the AI matchmaking prompts that make it all worth it, and I think we can combat/overcome these uptake issues in a few ways.
1. Better understanding our audience.
Not just their technical capability, preference for a 2 device or mobile first experience, but also their underlying motivations. What’s the win they are searching for that made them sign up for the event in the first place that you as the event curator can grant them like the great Wizard that you are…
2. Designing the program with intentionality for maximizing the use of these tools at the start.
These organic conversations we’re trying to replace from in-person often literally came from people waiting in line for food or for the bathrooms. THIS DOES NOT TRANSLATE TO ONLINE. There’s no line for a bathroom for our online audience, except for maybe at our house where we’ve all been stuck at home as a family of five.
So how can we be intentional with our design online? For example, I love the Hopin platform’s speed dating component pairing attendees at random if you simply navigate to the networking tab.
I had a client host two events just a few months apart on Hopin. And this networking tool had insanely high attendee survey scores the SECOND time around because we sculpted the program to have shortened keynotes, and then a time of response and reflection after each keynote where we asked attendees to go share takeaways and have discussions IN the networking area.
I think this tool will work in a hybrid model with the help of healthy competition, gamification and some tech kiosks where you can have the virtual delegates larger than relying on a mobile device.”
“I dont think we should confine our thinking to social media as the end all be all example.
I think we as event curators should be collecting inspiration from ANYWHERE we feel we’ve had a personal, emotional connection with someone that was not in the same room as us.
That can even be in the form of a virtual movie viewing party, listening to your favorite podcast the same week as your sister and calling eachother talk about it,
and certainly Social Media is a great example of how can feel seen and connected to people digitally, but it should also be a sobering example of how toxic it can be when not managed well.
There has not been a single industry untouched from this pandemic in terms of having to quickly learn to how to engage a Work-From-Home remote workforce so we are going to continue to see global innovation on this front. But again, I’ll go back to my answer to your first question, that you need to first understand and become hyper-aware of your audience, know HOW they like to engage online, WHAT solutions they are in need of, and then provide them with that ongoing support.
Will an event app be the solution for this? I will remain a skeptic, but also an optimistic digital native and entrepreneur because the world is full of smarter people than you and me that are ready to solve these big problems for us.
I read a statistic in your (EventMB’s) Event App Bible report, where SpotMe’s CEO suggested that 80% of engagement is happening on demand and that we’ve turned a page in attendee behavior, so with that in mind — event apps are uniquely poised to take advantage of this. Also, Learning Management Systems have been using comment threads, support boards, weekly meetups for quite some time very successfully — but is that really considered an event any longer? Idk — it’s the blurred lines I keep referring to.
I think the approach can be that your event is the starting line of engagement, and that it can morph into a thriving online community of ongoing knowledge sharing, networking, peer-to-peer problem solving, and product and service awareness, IF you keep the attendee at the center of all your planning efforts.
Live Scribe Illustration and Photo Credit: Live Illustration UK