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5 min read

Re-thinking event engagement in 2021

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Virtual events are here to stay.  A staggering 93% of event marketers plan to incorporate virtual events in their strategy moving forwards and whilst this is an exciting time for the events landscape, we have experienced a steep learning curve in 2020 around what great experiences look like ranging from ‘here is what we used to do… now on Zoom” to re-creating the engagement and participation that we mastered prior to COVID-19 disruption.

“Attendee engagement remains the number one hurdle that marketers face as they navigate the virtual events landscape.”

Below are 5 reasons that we believe to be central to re-thinking event engagement in 2021 from our experience as a technology partner with events teams over the past 3 years.

Impact and participation are more important than ever

As teams start to dig into the attendance data of their 2020 events there have been a few surprises that have emerged.  Firstly, what was a 5k attendee list prior to 2020 disruption suddenly exploded to lists of 5x this previous number.  However, when digging into the data a little further, what emerged was that the profile of attendees had become more junior and senior leaders (tasked with executing the strategy activation) were not present.  

Insight: Not all participation metrics are equal and we need to be more intentional about the experience itself.  This could be running smaller cohorts of leaders of up to 200 where the event itself has a more interactive dimension to it to stimulate discussion and networking. Excitement and engagement are still the overarching aim across all cohorts.  

Meaningful connection - meet teams where they are

Our experience of 2020/21 has taught us that creating a meaningful connection to the strategy during events is a must have.  In other words, zoom presentations or a one way dialogue of presentations simply no longer fits the bill for participants who face a radically different business environment.  Events teams instead need to think about activating the following elements into their events;

  1. Achieving Alignment: Do your participants understand the what and the why of the strategy and are you giving them the opportunity to experience it during your event?
  2. Igniting the right Mindset: Do your participants hold the right mindsets to lead a growth business and to generate enterprise value creation?  At see6 we see the right mindset as the catalyst for change so during your events in 2021, stimulating the right mindset is a must win for your events team.
  3. Creating the right Capability: Do your participants have the key capabilities needed to make better business choices? An event can be an excellent opportunity to work with wider client stakeholder groups to engage participants to what is being asked of them.  We see this as a force multiplier for virtual events in 2021.

Rethinking event measurement - insights in-the-moment

The majority of events teams are more than aware that post event survey responses have been on a downward trend for 5+ years. You can ask fewer questions to participants of course, but this moves the problem rather than solves it.

Our experience has taught us to re-think event measurement and capture in-the-moment insights to feed back to the business and capture ROI.  The opportunity here lies in finding the right technology partner who can support the connection between your events objectives and outcomes and the participant experience itself.  

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Embrace hybrid - it's here to stay

An overwhelming 97% of marketers are confident that Hybrid events will become more prominent going forward.

Events teams need to mirror the new hybrid work environment in their events in 2021 and beyond.  This means engaging participants to multiple platforms through the experience.

For example, you could run an event for 200 participants of which 50 are in person and 150 are virtual.  Events teams need to design experiences that engage with all 200 participants and create a ‘level playing field’ within the experience.  A business simulation is an example of this where teams can be set a challenge and configured in this hybrid format that leads to re-creating the moments that matter and making lasting change.  They also get to practice executing the strategy during the event in a realistic but safe environment.

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Technology partnerships - winning formula

Events teams can create winning relationships with technology partners who have the cloud based platforms and experiences to bring their events to life and achieve what we have discussed here.  Great technology partners align to the following;

  1. Focus on the technology and flawless execution during your event
  2. Embed your content and narrative into the technology experience
  3. Are a good partner to your delivery team - adapting to change with ease and imagination

Technology partners can really bring a new and exciting dimension to your event.

Why business simulation? 

At see6 we are passionate about cloud based simulation as a lever here to successful virtual events in 2021.  In our experience this can trigger the following with your participants at your events;

  • Stimulating Leadership with a mature business perspective through gamification of their strategy
  • People learn best with other people.  We still need to create those learning moments in our 2021 events
  • Practice and see what good looks like whilst having some fun!

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see6 is a web-based simulation platform where your teams engage with what matters most to your business.

Drop us a call and we'd love to work with you on your next event.