April 28, 2021 | By Warwick Merry

In Australia, we are rapidly getting back to face-to-face events. Even with the possibility of snap state lockdowns looming over us, there is enough confidence to organise small to medium sized live events.

There are so many fantastic elements of online events that we can bring back to face-to-face events. Elements that make the event more valuable, more engaging and more enjoyable. Here are five tips you should consider for your next face to face event.

Shorter Presentations

90-minute presentations – even 60-minute presentations – are too long. Power sessions of 30 minutes (of 45 if you really have to) enable the core ideas to get across without the waffle. There is far less “fill” and far more valuable information.

If you need more detailed sessions, add a workshop where delegates can get hands on. Professional speakers may be able to engage for a longer period but many industry speakers simply can’t keep delegates engaged that long. We need to take this into account.

More Interaction with the Presenter

Don’t just dump information on us, find out more about us. Polls, word clouds, and online apps are great ways to instantly get information from the delegates about what is going on in THEIR businesses and what THEIR immediate needs are. Getting delegates involved with the session means their engagement and their perceived value of the session will be higher.

More Interaction with the Delegates

Delegates will miss the chat box. The ability to add value to the conversation, connect with colleagues with similar issues, make new connections with similar solutions or just simply network as the event progresses is so important.

In Events BC (Before COVID) we were starting to use Twitter and even the event apps, but going online has shown the real power and value of this. Make sure your event has some formalised and encouraged way to have a conference back channel. If possible, enable the presenter to see it – or at least get fed the highlights.

Well Facilitated Panels

This was also a problem with Events BC. Too many panels were poorly moderated. The same question was put to every panelist, audience members would give a four-minute diatribe when they got the microphone and some panelists wanted to comment on everything.

Panels can be powerful. But they MUST be well facilitated. Short and snappy responses are of far more value than a sponsor taking the opportunity to spruik their new product. Please get a professional or get training for your inhouse facilitators.

Actively Enjoy Yourself

By going into people’s homes on virtual events, our delegates seemed to relax. Maybe this was caused by having their pets around, the ability to dress more casually or even a dress to the desk policy. For whatever reason, the increased relaxation led to more fun and people enjoying themselves more.

How can you bring this to your face-to-face events?

I strongly suggest you stay away from the dress to the desk policy! But maybe a more relaxed dress code, activities designed purely for fun, sessions focussed on the individual rather than the business, whatever you can do to add the fun.

Online and hybrid events are here to stay. Our geography, the global situation with COVID and their economics will ensure that. But there is plenty to learn from online best practices that we can use for our face-to-face events.

What practices have you brought across?

Image: A return to live events appears to be gathering pace with around 900 people attending the Victorian Tourism Conference last week