Three short months later however, our plans, and the plans and lives of everyone around the globe, were thrown into disarray. We were very quickly thrown in at the deep end and instead of sinking, we learned to swim - fast! Everybody quickly learned new terms like ‘social distancing’, ‘self isolation’, ‘furlough’ and ‘WFH’. But that is not the only thing our team has learned during these unprecedented times. Through hard work, determination and dedication we were able to continue to deliver our services to our clients and delivered that full calendar of events virtually.
Over the course of 2020 we were joined online by over 5,000 attendees from over 30 countries around the world. Each event we held brought new learning opportunities and chances to improve our services for our clients.
So, what are our events team’s top lessons learned in 2020?
1. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
“To be even more prepared and organised than normal and to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse with colleagues, with speakers and session chairs to ensure the online events run as smoothly as they can. Flaws show up more online than they would at an in-person event and are less forgiving. There is always something to learn, whether that is with new technology or a new way of doing business virtually. I will continue to learn in 2021 and adapt to the continually changing landscape.”
Suzanne Robertson, Director
2. Be Flexible
“I think we almost learned too many new things in the past 12 months to be able to pick just one. However, I think we have learned to be more flexible than ever before and adapt to change in ways that have not been required until now. We are planning events without knowing if they will be fully digital or hybrid, and we have learned to go with the flow and be ready to change direction when needed. We are working with clients who have unique objectives for their events, and like to use different online platforms, so we are working with them to find new, exciting, sometimes cost-effective ways of meeting these objectives, despite the ever-changing world we find ourselves in.”
Isla Stewart, Account Manager
3. Look for opportunities
“I have learned that whilst there may be some lost opportunities through the cancellation of physical events, there are now a number of new opportunities that digital events open us up to. We will be in a position where we can offer the benefits of both physical and digital events working together in the future.”
Leanne Sinclair, Sales & Sponsorship Co-Ordinator
4. Be Kind
“One of my main takeaways from 2020 is that it’s OK for things not to seem 100% polished all of the time. What is most important is how you deal with and solve an issue rather than thinking you can avoid them happening altogether. Running webinars and virtual events was new to us as well as being a new experience for the majority of our presenters and attendees. I learned from our trusted partner and webinar administrator Roy Stewart that it is important to let your speakers know they are not alone and encourage them to stop and shout for help if they ever need it. My initial worry was that this would seem a little clunky with presenters asking, ‘can you see my slides?’, but on the contrary, it created a more relaxed environment where problems could be fixed much quicker if they did occur. Nobody was left feeling out there all alone and that was such an important lesson that I will take forward into 2021.”
Sarah Young, Events Executive
“Digital events can have an even quicker pace than usual as you don’t need to factor in the logistics you would normally encounter at a physical event. In that fast-paced environment, I learned that it is essential to prepare your social coverage for the event itself in advance, yet remain flexible.
Writing out social posts from scratch while event proceedings are already underway is a big undertaking and can lead to you losing focus on what's going on right in front of you. So I'd say preparing your posts in advance is key. Either schedule them with software or make them easy to copy and paste from a Word Document or Spreadsheet as well as making sure any images or video you're looking to share are in an easily accessible and organised location. By undertaking this prep in advance, you can stay in the moment and make sure you don’t miss those funny, heart-warming or thought-provoking moments that keep your social media coverage current and relevant for those who are following along.”
Nicola Scott, Content & Marketing Coordinator
Events and conferences, 2021 predictions!
We have learned so much that we can take forward into 2021 and beyond, and are excited about the new opportunities and experiences this year will bring. We asked Suzanne, Director, to give us her predictions for what’s to come.
“Events will likely come back in a physical format in Q3 of 2021. The size and scale of these events will probably not be as they would normally be and will start off smaller so the industry can regain some confidence. The virtual element will not disappear and Hybrid events will start making an appearance. Some travel bans will likely still be in place so offering a virtual alternative will enable a global reach. Networking and doing business will be even more important in 2021. In-person networking, albeit on a smaller scale will be back as we all know that face-to-face contact is more valuable than trying to do business behind a screen.”
If you would like to discuss how our team can help you plan your next digital or hybrid event, please get in touch!