June 10, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

The questions from participants representing national associations kept coming and coming in the inaugural Masterclass about navigating the new event organising landscape for members of the Associations Forum.

The body, which represents around 600 associations, joined forces with Connected Event Group for the virtual program that unpacked the latest lessons for operating in the virtual, hybrid and live event landscape this week.

The Q&A session revealed plenty of questions about the processes and challenges for with the “new normal” for events. Associations taking represented the medical sector and surgeons, the toy industry, insurance and a plethora of other industry sectors.

Libbie Ray, co-founder of Connected Event Group and a board member of two peak industry bodies, produced the event from the company’s studios in Chippendale, Sydney and sat on the presenter panel.

She said it was clear from the large number of questions that there is a huge appetite for learning about how to do events and all the options available to organisers.

She told micenet that the disruption caused by COVID provided a chance to rethink the whole approach to creating events.

“If you move away from the old ways and develop new strategies – the opportunities will be endless,” she said.

In opening the Masterclass, Associations Forum CEO John Peacock said his organisation was committed to providing education opportunities to its vast network of members.

He said COVID-19 had changed the landscape for event organisers and the Masterclass was an ideal opportunity for participants to learn and share their experiences.

Panel member and professional speaker, MC and trainer, Andrew Klein delivered compelling content in his inimitable engaging manner.

“Always strive for authenticity over perfection when doing virtual presentations. As long as the tech is good, and the content is short, sharp and relevant, it’s fine if the presentation is a little rough around the edges. Make it a conversation not a presentation,” he said.

“When delivering hybrid events, make it enticing for both audiences, ensuring there are benefits and add-ons for both experiences. For example, if you choose to watch a sporting match, you could watch it live in the stadium or back at home in your living room.

“There are advantages and disadvantages to both viewing experiences, but as the audience, we should be allowed to choose our own adventure, to suit our lifestyle or viewing preference.

“It’s exactly the same for hybrid conferences.”

Klein’s fellow panel member Arianne Bath delivers around 50 events a year for the National Insurance Brokers Association. Her content was absolutely “real” as she had faced all the challenges with which her audience is grappling.

“As an event manager in the association space, I understand the amount collaboration and information sharing needed currently as the events evolve. I’m happy to have partnered today with Connected Event Group to share the success story of the 2020 NIBA Virtual Convention.”

She welcomed the open conversation with the industry as it navigates the options for live, virtual and hybrid events.

For his part on the panel, marketing guru James Lawrence focussed on marketing trends, content and its repurposing and a wide range of challenges facing marketers.

He cautioned marketers not to spread their efforts across too many channels – he advised it’s best to go “deeper” into the channels that are most relevant to the audience sector rather than spread the effort across a multitude of channels.

“The Masterclass was a winner! There were so many practical takeaways to help organisations better plan, market and run events in today’s interesting landscape,” he said.

“Even as a marketing professional I was taking notes on the types of content that should be curated during an event and clever ways to reuse event content after the fact.”