As we approach a future where gatherings become safer and more frequent, DevGlobal Partners, an international development company that specializes in event production, believes that it is vital to invest in continued connection through hybrid events.
The way we think about events will never be the same. Embracing new and emerging technologies has become imperative as they allow for an increase in equitable opportunities for larger groups of attendees and a broader reach for companies investing in events. Prior to the pandemic, in-person events were often cost-prohibitive and fostered a near-exclusive atmosphere for many potential attendees. Our virtual reality over the last several years forced us to adopt new practices and protocols. For the global development industry, virtual and hybrid events offer a way to offset costs and are also, typically, more environmentally sustainable. Some events may require and be enhanced by in-person attendance but allowing participation from guests who would otherwise not be able to attend should always be considered given the technological leaps that have been made in recent years.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies that produced or hosted events had to become very agile to tackle the issue of restricted gatherings. Nearly every industry across the globe was affected by the diminished ability to produce events to build rapport with clients and employees, sponsor fundraising, provide educational services, and offer and increase sales opportunities. Many companies hired event production specialists, like DevGlobal Partners, to produce their virtual, and later, hybrid events. Chief among the challenges companies faced going virtual was the endless battle in choosing the best-suited virtual platform for each event. Companies had to weigh cost, required features, and user experience to find a solution that was appropriate for a variety of events, clients, and attendees. Many platforms that were already in circulation prior to the pandemic were not robust enough to sustain the influx of business and the number of attendees. Many others were inflexible and incompatible with interaction and enhanced technological components, further compounding the issue of finding the right fit.
In addition to the challenges presented in finding and acclimating to an event platform, it was quickly apparent that it had become exceedingly difficult to engage the audience in the same way that an in-person event could. Many attendees spent their days working virtually and were experiencing virtual fatigue, making them less likely to engage. In response to the rapid decline in participation and engagement, event producers found that the programming and technical requirements for each event needed to be completely individualized per client. No matter the preferred technology, each event producer learned that the key to making this new world of virtual and hybrid events successful was to become masters of many in order to cater to each individual client’s needs. Taking into consideration the technical proficiency of each client, speaker and entertainer became paramount for planning and producing a successful event. Surprisingly, many event producers also have found that it is essential to allow ample time for clients and vendors to prepare for the event from a production standpoint. Just because you are not securing a venue, travel, and catering does not mean that a virtual event production timeline should be significantly reduced. Just as with in-person events, developing clear expectations, the scope of work, and required participation for all is still considered a best practice as we continue to hover over the lines of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events.
Endeavor to Continue Connection
While the pandemic presented an unfathomable amount of overnight change for everyone, DevGlobal realized the necessity for continued connection. When it came to finding new ways to produce events, they pivoted by innovating and developing their own event and technical support solutions. While they still aim to be entirely tech neutral to increase flexibility and better adapt to client needs, the addition of their custom events platform will focus on offering a variety of unique experiences rather than forcing clients into a narrow project plan that may not be appropriate for their desired outcomes.
Welcoming Change and Reshaping Norms
After a platform is chosen, what’s next? With the average person becoming more tech savvy, we can no longer rely on a one-to-many, lecture-style format for a virtual or hybrid event. Event specialists should consider taking advantage of opportunities to incorporate interesting and creative ways to enhance the attendee experience such as direct verbal communication between speakers and attendees. As opposed to just a chat feature, consider incorporating virtual photo booths, virtual breakout rooms, social feeds, polls, or surveys. There is a continued influx of incredible options to level up your virtual presence and offer branding for your company, clients, or the event itself. The absence of an audience is no longer an excuse for gaps in activity and an absence of shared energy. Adopting clever engagement tools and integrating technological advances should be utilized in every case to help harness that energy and increase involvement.
Navigating this new and ever-changing events landscape can be daunting, but event production specialists have mastered the art of agility and adaptation. Investments made in event production support will positively impact your return on investment and amplify event success. Now more than ever, connecting with your audience is imperative. Hybrid is here to stay, and it is up to you to adapt.
DevGlobal Partners spans across Africa, India, and the United States supporting the world’s leading non-profits, companies, philanthropies, multilateral agencies, and government agencies on their innovation and sustainability initiatives. To learn more about how the team can facilitate event production and project management for your organization, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.