August 6,​ ​2016:​ ​News​ ​&​ ​Views​ ​Roundup​ ​For​ ​Events​ ​Wranglers​

Presented below for keeping you up-to-date, and as August 6th’s potential new occupants of your occupational toolbox, are a selection of recent events wrangling news and views. If any of the items below cause your events wrangler Spidey-sense to tingle, click the headline link and read the article in its entirety.

What Meeting Formats Will Take Off in the Future?

future meeting formats

The German Convention Bureau’s Future Meeting Space research project is looking at all the different needs meetings have to fulfill these days, from a totally unplugged retreat-type getaway for deep thinking to its exact opposite, and four more in between. The GCB released this infographic to help illustrate what’s involved in each of the six scenarios explored in the Future Space project…Here’s a little more verbiage to help clarify some of the scenarios outlined in the infographic, which while great, can be a little confusing to decode:

  1. Unplugged Conference…
  2. Co-Working Conference…
  3. Virtual-to-Physical Conference…
  4. Interactive Forum…
  5. Satellite Conference…
  6. Hybrid Conference. I hope most planners have been able to check out this option, which entails an online component to an in-person event. This format saves time and costs for those who attend via Internet, and everyone can still stay on the same page, learning-wise. The best ones I’ve participated in digitally also provide a separate facilitator for the online audience to ensure their participation is incorporated into the IRL event and to build community among digital participants….”

If you’re tired of trying to make the same old event formats seem new and interesting, consider the eight types of meetings described in this article. I especially like the Hybrid Conference format, which I talked about in my post, “Hybrid Event Participation: In-Person And Online.” In today’s connected world, and even more so in the hyper-connected world we’ll live in a few years from now, providing only the in-person or just the virtual experience is short-changing your potential audience of event goers.

Overwhelmed by Email? 19 Tips to Claim Back Your Inbox

emailEmail is the probably the most important business communication tool, and unavoidable in working life today. In the fast-paced world of events, there seems to be a never ending stream of urgent emails demanding your immediate attention, especially nearing the time of the event. Before you chuck your computer out of the window, here are some easy tricks you can learn to email 2master your inbox, and modern tools to help you do it faster.

  1. Differentiate Professional and Personal..
  2. Filter your Newsletters…
  3. Don’t Use Your Emails as Storage…
  4. Aim for your Inbox to be Always Empty…
  5. Template Emails Should Be Your Friend…
  6. Keep it Formal…
  7. Pick Up the Phone…
  8. Recognize Emails for What They Are…”email 3

Most people over the age of 30 who work for or interact with corporations and traditional businesses have much more email to deal with than they would like. Every professional and every business world communicator has to figure out their own way to deal with too much email. This article gives very reasonable and actionable advice. Not all 19 tips will be appropriate for you, but everyone who hates emails at least a little bit will find one or two items they can use to better deal with a common communication challenge.

[I didn’t list all 19 tips in this post. If you are interested in this topic, you’ll want to read the entire article. If you say “meh” about email, you don’t need to see a long list…]

8 Audiovisual and Production Tips for Stage Presentationseight ball

The Event Leadership Institute kicked off its series of interactive Learning Labs on Technical Meeting & Event Production on July 27 with a hands-on course led by Matthew Saravay, president of New York-based production studio Wizard Studios. Course participants learned about projection technology, the types of different microphones and lighting and when to use them, the logistics of staging, and more. Here are some useful tips that Saravay had for planners and production managers.

  1. Use a dark background and light letters for presentations. For PowerPoint presentations and others that involve speaking with a screen, Saravay said to always use a dark background—such as black or purple—with light letters, so the letters pop off the screen. “For presentations, I want to fool people’s eyes,” said Saravay, who noted that an audience will have trouble viewing a presentation with a light background and darker letters…
  2. Equip speakers with an appropriate microphone…
  3. Consider what’s behind the presenter. “Make sure a podium sign or logo is behind the presenter. What you don’t want directly behind the presenter is the screen,” said Saravay…
  4. Ask clients what their needs are so the right type of stage can be selected…
  5. Use teleprompters effectively…
  6. Set different lighting looks…
  7. Create a show flow…
  8. Be strategic when selecting a venue…”

Another “tips” article. One of the truly practical tips I’d never heard before was to use a dark background with light letters for all projected presentations. Never really thought about that before. I’m going to watch for that at future events to consciously evaluate for myself whether I notice a significant difference. It will also be instructive to discuss that with event goers to find out if they’re aware of the dark text vs light text issue.

Closely related to the “dark background, light letters” is “consider what’s behind the speaker.” This is another tip I need to think about after watching a few presentations. Many well-known speakers have done very effective and memorable talks with only the screen behind them.

Back to School for Trade Show Organizers: Build In More Ways to Learn and Connecttrade show display hall

The way we buy has evolved for both the B2B and B2C sectors. Trade show organizers who have re-imagined their expo floors into a solutions-based destination rather than one of a hard-sell shopping place are winning at delivering attendee value.

Results from a recent CEIR study…encompasses responses from both show organizers and their loyal attendees about the factors that drive attendance. In many instances, the organizers’ perceptions can be quite different from those of the attendees…

When evaluating the factors that are most important learning draws for attendees, both the attendee and the expo organizer agreed on the top two reasons:

  1. To keep up-to-date with industry trends…what’s new or emerging?
  2. Professional networking.

But there was a huge divide on the third factor “to attend conference programs/sessions.” Organizers ranked the importance of this factor at 73%. Yet, only 45% of attendees said it’s important to them…

There was another factor under learning, “attend for continuing education credits, CME, etc.,” which only 21% of loyal attendees rated as important or very important. Shocker to organizers’ perceptions: 47% of them perceived it as an important reason…

CEUs have been on a path toward commoditization for many years. We estimate the value to be somewhere between $5 and $30 per hour…we believe trade show presentationthat CEUs are the Fool’s Gold of Attendance Marketing…”

This item takes a look a event factors that are important for trade shows in 2016 and the immediate future. I don’t get involved with managing trade events, although I would enjoy emerging technology trade events, but I have attended many trade events in the past. I definitely agree with the top two reasons unless the attendee is designing a high capital cost major product and is at the trade show to become familiar with competing products that they may be considering for their project.

The issue of “conference programs/sessions” isn’t so much that attendees aren’t interested in the topics. It’s more that the attendees don’t want to be put to sleep by a boring PowerPoint presentation with no chance to have conversations about the topic which allows them to ask questions, share their experiences, hear from their peers, or discuss the issue with professionals who are more interested in the topic than they are in being a presenter. Most trade show organizers are so busy with all the logistics of the vendors displaying at the event that they don’t have time to figure out genuinely engaging trade show sessions.

What the article author wrote about CEUs says it all. The continuing education credit only has value for a few industry sectors that haven’t yet decided trade show CEUs have minimal value.

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Bonus points, Pokémon GO post of the week:  How to Grab onto the Wildly Popular Pokémon Go Phenomenon

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4th of July & Events Wranglers

For USA citizens, the 4th of July is a widely celebrated holiday, commemorating ratification of the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. For today’s post, it seemed appropriate to take a look at the intersection of July Fourth and events wrangling.

4th of julyWhile very few Americans will be thinking about events wrangling today, it’s worthwhile to take a brief look at five possible patriotic scenarios that could be on events wranglers’ minds on the 4th.

  1. Relax, enjoy, and celebrate.
  2. Events wrangling for celebration with family or friends.
  3. Events wrangling for a local civic or organizational celebration.
  4. Events wrangling for a major regional or national celebration.
  5. Future Fourth ideas.

Relax, Enjoy, Celebrate

american flagOn July 4, 2016, most events wranglers in the good old US of A are likely just enjoying a low-key celebration with family or friends. Making memories. Recalling past Fourths. Looking forward to the fireworks. Wearing, eating, drinking, or just looking at red, white and blue things. Maybe you’re at a BBQ or participating in a potluck.

However…because your job is not a 9-to-5 M-F occupation, I know a few of you are on your smartphones, texting, emailing, and doing other electronic activities related to a future or past event. Getting information, responding to requests for help, promoting your events on social media, and working on a myriad of other job-related issues (for which you are, naturally, not really getting paid…). STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! Turn it off. Unplug. Live in the moment.

That’s all that really needs to be said about the relax-enjoy-celebrate scenario. Experience today as a restful and re-creational holiday! 🙂

Wrangling Celebration With Family Or Friends

Others of you may be at a gathering of extended family or a large group of friends in events wrangler mode because you volunteered or were recruited to lend your particular skills to the informal celebration.

hydra multi head monsterA small percentage of you are regretting getting involved in today’s festivities because the usual stressful aspects of your day-job are rearing their ugly heads… Unrealistic expectations for a limited budget, last minute changes, uncontrollable factors like weather, bugs, personal issues, emotional conflicts, etc.

But most of you wrangling your low-key event with people you like or love are probably enjoying the day just as much as if you weren’t at least partly responsible for how the day turns out. Your July 4th celebration is such a breeze compared to most events that it makes you start remembering all the reasons you love being an events wrangler!

Wrangling Local Civic Or Organizational Celebration

Being a chief wrangler or handling high-visibility aspects of a local civic or organizational July 4th event can be a big boost for your reputation or your local business. If it’s the first time you’ve done something like this, good luck! Spend the rest of the day working hard to ensure your event goes as well as possible. (You can sleep in and recuperate tomorrow. Maybe…)

Waldron 25th and 50th July 4th

Waldron 4th of July Gold/Silver Wedding Anniversary

As I’ve stressed in some of my other Events Wrangling posts, remember to have part of your focus on storytelling and video. Capture as many of the day’s memories as possible in words, in audio and video, in photographs, and on social media. Today’s moments only happen once a year — and some of them may be once in a lifetime. Like the huge family gathering many years ago on the 4th of July when my Mom and Dad celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on the same day as my Dad’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!

Wrangling Major Regional Or National Celebration

uncle sam hat tipColor me red, white and blue-impressed if you’re events wrangling on a major regional or national July Fourth celebration. I tip my Uncle Sam hat to you! You’ll be making the day special for hundreds or thousands of people!

If it’s your first major Fourth, I hope you have several people assigned to documenting the day. Because it will probably all be a blur to you. You’ll be hurrying to and fro, making sure This is taken care of, checking on whether That is all set to start on time, wondering What will go wrong next… It will be important for you to have those pictures, videos, and news accounts of the event so you can see, through others’ eyes, what happened. And tomorrow morning you should make a list of what you remember as the highlights of your day. A year or two from now, you’ll have a blast looking back at what your vision of today was versus what was seen, experienced and captured by others!

Future Fourth Ideas

If you’re not doing much of anything special today and feeling restless or professionally unfulfilled because of that, here are a couple of ideas to consider for next year’s July 4th holiday.

  • photo walkPhoto Walk. — Organize a photo walk for a group of family members, friends, or photographers. Take pictures of people enjoying the Fourth, capture unique decorations or unusual red, white and blue items. Create an online album. Build a pop-up July 4th website. Flood an Instagram account with scenes you see as you walk around. You can make it low key, you can have an informal competition, you can design a structured challenge, or you can create the inaugural instance of a long running tradition. Here are a few tips for your photo walk, and you can find many more resources online to help with your event.
  • Local Multi-site Celebration. — To raise the bar for your event, find out what other July 4th activities are planned in your area. Those could be family festivities, neighborhood happenings, civic celebrations, and whatever other types of July 4th fun you can discover. Contact the organizers of those events and see if a few of them want to coordinate events. I don’t have anything specific in mind here. Just an opportunity to try something new. Something enabled by the internet. An experimental event that might be really cool or an experience you don’t want to repeat. For both this local multi-site celebration and for the next item, a multi-city celebration, I’m thinking one aspect of it would be dreaming up ways to do hybrid events.
  • National Multi-city Celebration. — This is essentially the same concept as the previous multi-site local celebration except that it’s more ambitious, with greater possibility and increased risk. Not to mention a bigger budget. Figure out a good reason for July 4th celebrations in different cities to work together on their holiday activities. An easy starting point would be for two sister cities to do a joint civic celebration. Another straightforward multi-city idea is for an organization with operations in several cities to coordinate organizational Fourth festivities. One example of that would be for the Knight Foundation to have some type of July 4th collaborative journalism event in the 26 communities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. Since they do lots of grants, possibly they could do one for a collaborative Fourth. Maybe Google or another tech / internet company could do a patriotic online extravaganza that connects their various offices or communities around the country.
  • red white blue food4th of July Patriotic Creativity Challenge. — This one’s my favorite Future Fourth idea, I think. Create a new tradition, or at least organize something that could become a tradition. Dream up a creativity challenge for a July 4th gathering, sort of like a chili cook-off or a hackathon competition. Identify categories for the challenge, including food, drinks, decorations, entertainment/games, photos, essays, short stories, artwork, etc. You could do the informal Friends & Family route, or you could go all professional and over-the-top and get sponsors, cash prizes, and media coverage. I’m not aware of anything like this, so either past similar events have been low key and not highlighted by mainstream media, or I just don’t remember hearing about them. If you figure out a unique twist or hook, you could develop this into something you’ll want to do more than once…

Ooops…I just realized I overlooked the opportunity to talk about or include pictures of Wrangler red, white, and blue jeans, RWB Jeep Wranglers, and 4th of July rodeo wranglers. Next year’s post, maybe.

Well, that’s more than enough rambling about today. Enjoy the rest of your day and have a fun Fourth! 🙂

flag and fireworks

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Hybrid Event Participation: In-Person And Online

Attendee Of The Future or Hybrid Events?

Today’s post was supposed to be about “The Attendee of the Future,” an insightful events wrangling post I read yesterday.

That post starts out with a timely question that is worth thoughtful consideration.

“The needs of your event attendees have changed. Are you keeping up with their demands?”welcome to the future

I suspect many events wranglers struggle with meeting the widely varying needs and demands of today’s attendees. In a world of partial continuous attention, blurred lines between work and personal time, and an increasingly connected society with smartphones and tablets, it’s almost impossible to know what the needs of the attendees are and even more difficult to keep up with their (apparent) demands.

So I was going to highlight a few particularly poignant points in that blog post. But then I got thinking about the excerpt below from the post:

hybrid events“…Consider meeting different learning styles of your digitally enabled participants. This may include…an active hybrid event, with facilitators who encourage conversation within your live audience, answer questions and invite comments from your your virtual audience, plus a moderator who facilitates discussion in a virtual chat room and where these two hosts can work to bring the viewpoints of both audiences together…”

Hybrid Events

[Wikipedia defines a hybrid event as onethat combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.”]

hybrid events 2

Hybrid events are a topic that hits four hot buttons for me.

  • Events wrangling.
  • Community building.
  • Relationship building.
  • Emerging technologies.

After I read the “hybrid events” post linked in the excerpt above and started thinking about all the opportunities and challenges that hybrid events offer, I decided today’s post on Events Wrangling just had to be about hybrid events.

My goals for today’s post are:

  1. Highlight the concept of hybrid events, encouraging you to make your events hybrid ones when possible.
  2. Discuss six issues related to hybrid events.
  3. Invite anyone highly interested in discussing hybrid events to contact me.

Goal 1: Highlight Hybrid Events

I’ve been working to incorporate virtual, or remote, participation in my events for over ten years. In the early days it was IRC (internet relay chat) or other chat tools. At our weekly tech meetups, we would also regularly test new video and audio tools as they were released. When tech enthusiasts in our region couldn’t attend the weekly meeting in-person due to weather or personal obligations, we’d experiment with different ways to make remote participants a valuable part of the meetup.

If you don’t already make your events hybrid in some way, consider deciding right now to figure out at least one way to make your next event a hybrid one. If you already have ways for remote participants to benefit from and contribute to your events, look for how you can take those hybrid components to the next level. Come up with a way to make the hybrid benefits of your event a competitive differentiator. Remote participants can’t experience everything that in-person participants can, but there may be hundreds or thousands of people who want to be involved with your event because of the value you provide to remote participants.

Goal 2: Discuss Six Issues For Hybrid Events

Issue 1, Building A Community — In “10 Things I Would Change About The Event Industry,” Kevin Jackson says:

“…I think we create experiences…the difference between an event and an experience for me is an event is a one-off moment in time and an experience is a whole campaign that really builds a community of interest around the subject or topic we’re promoting…

‘People’ don’t love events. They don’t sit at home and think ‘gosh I really want to go to an event tonight’ like you would the movie theatre or restaurant. People want to go and attend the event for the content…And we have to get more serious around developing great stories and great content that brings people into our events…

We have to try and encourage a community to [grow] up around our events. building communityBecause that’s really what we’re doing, growing communities of interest…”

Although not every event has enough value, scope, or impact to support an ongoing community, some of them do. When there is sufficient reason for an event, or series of events, to support or coalesce a community, there’s no need to limit that community to people who are able to physically be at the event. Your community can be much larger if it’s open and welcoming to remote participants. Facilitating the hybrid component may also result in new community members who couldn’t participate in person because of schedule conflicts, cost, mobility issues, or other reasons. Some of your remote participants may turn out to be key members of the community that gets built around a series of events.

storytellerIssue 2, Storytelling and Video — I’m convinced we don’t put enough emphasis on storytelling and video for events. These two event components can be impact multipliers which lead to higher visibility for events, more post-event collaborations and interactions, and more participants for future events. Storytelling and audio/video components of hybrid events will be critical items to make the event worthwhile and engaging for remote participants. So deciding to deliver a high quality hybrid event means focusing on storytelling and providing good video capture and (eventually) editing. Taking storytelling and video to the next level will provide amazing benefits to both remote and in-person participants.

The next two issues are discussed by Communiqué Conferencing in “What is a Hybrid Event?

Issue 3, Content and Format — Concise, compelling and engaging material that tells a relevant story via remote technology is crucial for keeping the interest of virtual event goers. Shorter sessions are generally necessary because the virtual participant isn’t a captive audience and because it’s harder for them to feel like an active participant in the event. Here’s how Communiqué addresses that:

“…Not all the content presented at a live event is suitable for remote audience. Meeting professionals with experience creating hybrid events say that they are adapting the content of their face-to-face events to the needs of the remote audience by, for example, offering shorter sessions. Hybrid event organizers often seek to reduce production costs by live-streaming only the most popular sessions. Others seek to limit what is offered to a remote audience as a way of encouraging more people to attend the face-to-face event. Anecdotal data from survey responses and e-learning experts suggest that broadcast sessions shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes…”

Issue 4, Speakers or Session Leaders — It’s challenging to have every session leader or speaker be a charismatic and polished presenter for an in-person audience. Bringing in the online audience just makes it that much harder for a speaker to do everything right. As Communiqué says in their blog post:

“…It’s even more important to train speakers for hybrid events than for face-to-face because the attention span of remote attendees is shorter, speakers must be more engaging. They must acknowledge remote attendees and look at the camera. The loss of physical connection requires speakers to develop new skills to engage. The camera is your friend. So, you’ve got to attend to that camera, and remember there are people with interest in your event on the other side of it…”

Issue 5, Facilitating Post-Event Interaction — In my mind, part of the job of an events wrangler is to facilitate post-event interaction. I feel that the biggest benefits of events are connecting like-minded and complementary-minded people, building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. The value of an event can be multiplied many times over if those relationships continue to grow and lead to collaboration on work or personal projects and ventures.

Building hybrid components into your event can facilitate post-event interaction in many ways. People participating remotely can connect with in-person participants, whereas those connections would previously only been possible between in-person participants. In-person participants who get excited about a session topic at the event can later review videos of the session and be motivated to reconnect with others who were likewise passionate about that topic.

VRIssue 6, Overhyped-But-It’s-Coming VR — I’m not going to discuss specific details of how VR / AR / MR and the tangentially-related holographic technologies will impact hybrid events. If you’re a fan of VR, you can easily imagine ten or fifteen cool or interesting ways you’d want to remotely participate in hybrid events. Ten or twenty years from now, VR is likely to play a huge role in most events, both real-time and post-event. For events held this year and next, think about connecting with VR tech partners. Research companies developing VR software and hardware, as well as a variety of marketing, video, storytelling, and promotional companies, may be willing to collaborate with you. Your events may be a perfect opportunity for them to experiment with new technology, to develop their VR skills and services, or to create marketing materials in a real-world situation.

Goal 3: Invite Discussion

From my perspective, almost all events five years from now will have a significant hybrid aspect. If you want to keep up, you’ll need to stay informed on developments in this area. If you want to keep ahead, or at least be one of the people riding the wave of emerging technologies and societal trends, you should be experimenting now with ways to make your events hybrid ones.

If you want to discuss hybrid events, ask questions, or share your ideas and experiences, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’d love to collaborate with fellow events wranglers to make events more valuable and engaging for both remote and in-person participants.

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