How events changed in 2020
Living with Covid-19 in 2020, we learnt to adapt, moving over to the virtual world of video calls from our makeshift offices at home.
Large public events including the Olympics, football matches and music festivals were cancelled and we don’t know when we will be able to attend these events again.
Watching TV, we have seen so many live shows have moved over to hosting with virtual audiences, allowing them to continue to entertain us.
So we have all learnt to adapt to this new normal. Not knowing when it will end or how will it affect us in 2021?
Moving to Virtual
We are lucky to have the technology available today to support the move to the virtual world. We have been able to stay in touch using video conferencing software like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. Hosting our team meetings from home, we have still had that touch point with our colleagues, so our businesses have been able to carry on working as close to normal as possible. Schools have been able to host online lessons to school children at home, and we have been able to stay in contact with our relatives using apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
We can’t imagine how much different this pandemic would have affected us back in the 1980’s, with no virtual meetings or social media. The ability to communicate is so much faster these days and we all learn to adapt very quickly.
The availability of online meeting platforms has allowed us to continue to network. However, the look and feel of the events, are much different to what we are used to. It feels so natural to walk into a room and greet someone with a handshake and we also enjoy the small talk. But with the virtual meeting, we have got used to a wave and taking it in turns to speak, using group and private chats to replace small talk.
Networking groups have in some cases become more organised with curated networking. This provides the opportunity to help members find the right people they are looking to network with. These can often be more bespoke, with a more structured approach to the session.
Also, with the demand for online networking groups increasing, many have moved towards talks through webinars. This allows the speaker to present to a much larger group, whilst giving the delegates the opportunity to ask questions, but with the option of being physically seen.
Managing a Virtual event
With the increase in demand for virtual networking and webinars, there can be as much to organise and manage as a live event. A virtual event is much more than just a virtual meeting.
As with any event, you need to plan and organise. Creating a plan for the virtual event; inviting a guest speaker, promoting your event and organising your attendees.
When you are hosting an event, it can become overwhelming to undertake all the admin too. So by delegating a co-host, you can focus on being the host whilst all the admin is carried out in the background for you.
By setting up the event and managing the attendees. Your co-host can also organise your presentation, set up your breakout rooms, whilst keeping an eye on the chat room to highlight any questions. Your co-host can also click that all important record button, so you can share your event recording with the attendees afterwards and upload your webinars to your YouTube account.
The future impacts of Covid-19 on public events
No-one knows what it will look like post Covid-19, as there are so many restrictions to the normal expectations of a public event.
- Reduced capacity
With the social distancing rules, we are unable to gather in large numbers. Providing enough space to maintain the 2m distance from others, provides problems in hosting networking events.
There will be much more focus on the hygiene standards to maintain our safety. Providing more space, hand sanitiser stations and more regular cleaning regimes.
We have all already got used to the ticketless attendance of events, using our QR codes to sign in at events. But we need to consider how we identify each other, will we be able to use lanyards or badges supplied by the hosts? Those handy pocket guides to events, will now move over to an event app.
- Food and beverages
How much catering can be provided at events? We are used to queuing up to get a cup of coffee, or to sample food from the catering stalls. How will this be managed in maintaining social distance at events? We also need to consider the impact of needing to use environmentally friendly products if we are looking to use disposable cups and containers.
- Business cards and company information
We have always been proud to be asked for our business card, which by physical appearance and design says a lot about us. But we will move more towards the digital business card, which many of us have used via our QR code on LinkedIn.
The future of events management – Hybrid events
Hybrid events are a combination of physical and digital events, enabling a percentage of people to attend the live event, with other people attending virtually. This brings the benefits of much larger numbers attending the events, with the people that are able and comfortable to attend the live event the opportunity to do so. Also by creating digital content in the form of an app, attendees can all experience the same event.
So, whilst we have not been able to attend public events during 2020 and now again leading into 2021. This has not stopped us hosting or attending events. With more people attending online events, it has opened many more opportunities for people who might not have previously attended.
The ability to stream on the internet has opened up many doors for people who might not be physically able to attend, and it has also reduced the need to travel to and from the events. This can potentially save businesses a lot of time and money, which will in turn help them become more productive.
Once we are able to open up public events again, having the option to physically attend or use a digital platform will actually help event managers reach a much larger audience than before.
The changes in 2020 have forced us to move to a more digital events environment. But in 5 years’ time, would we have naturally progressed to this? One thing the pandemic has taught us, is our ability to learn to adapt.