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Purposeful Abandonment

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Purposeful Abandonment Amid the Pandemic

With uncertain times, the need to strategize pushes its way to the front of the line. But just how much risk can we tolerate as we move forward with events? Even now, we are still dealing with an invisible enemy (COVID-19), but the good news is that, for most businesses, the lights are fully back on. However, we are still coming to terms with the fact that our business, our events, and our lives will be forever changed. “The new normal” seems to be a constant term these days.

Is there a silver lining? Absolutely! Changes to the events arena can be a very good thing. 

Abandon the “Way We’ve Always Done It”

Not ready to go fully live? No problem, you can take that step when the stars line up again for your company, your customers, your team, and your industry. However, this might not be an “all-or-nothing” decision. Should you consider a blended event, where attendees can choose between participating virtually from the comfort of their homes/offices, or where they can join you in person? This depends of course on their level of comfort. Be sure you use an event production partner that can produce both live and virtual events in a seamless and professional manner. When your live events have returned in full swing, a virtual solution may turn out to be a permanent offering for those that aren’t able to attend in person, pandemic or not.

Abandon Frustration

How can you eliminate frustrations and disappointments because of the speed bumps (and walls) thrown into the path to your event projects? What has left you focused on the wrong things? There really is a rainbow at the end of this torrential downpour, so you really do have the option to come out winning! 

Abandon Email Abuse

The endless string of time consuming, back-and-forth, verbose emails are the downfall of many. Although members of your staff may still be working remotely, this is not the way to collaborate planning of such an important and complex project! Check in with the team on a regular and consistent schedule, going over the details of the project and each upcoming deliverable. For ongoing communication, rather than send a single or group text, utilize tools such as Notion, Basecamp or Slack for a solution to keeping communication moving along swiftly throughout the day. 

Abandon the Old Greeting

For a while at least, the handshake has gone the way of blowing out candles on a cake. So many people are still uneasy about it, and who knows if or when we’ll ever get back to normal. Abandon this greeting for now. Non-contact greetings can be replaced with a smile and a nod, hand over the heart or a friendly wave. During the height of the pandemic, I had a colleague gesture an “air handshake” recently, and the recipient did it back, complaining about his associate’s “strong grip”, and they both laughed. It was a great ice breaker!

Abandon the Security Blanket

That voluminous event binder or folder does little for your professionalism. It’s not very efficient and no one really knows why you’re carrying it around. Take the time now to consolidate all relevant event files and apps onto your tablet or lightweight laptop. Be sure you have meticulously organized your files for quick access – and quick recovery if needed. If list-making on a piece of paper is a crutch you’re not ready to abandon, consider making those notes online, in an app such as Evernote or Microsoft OneNote.

Abandon Post-Event Surveys

Trust me, no one wants to fill out that survey you’re about to hand out after the event. They also don’t want to fill out the one you emailed them, especially if you sent it more than once. They have little patience to answer your “brief” text survey. Respect their time. Instead, monitor your social media channels, read the buzz, talk to people. Have fun with live polling like Slido or Mentimeter during your event. Take advantage of all networking opportunities to ask questions. If groups of attendees are joining you virtually (such as remotely from a conference room), make a conference call during a break to check in and have a brief discussion with the group about their experience so far. If you have done a good job of connecting with your attendees, you should already have an excellent feel for what your successes and shortcomings were.

Abandon Superfluous Slides

We constantly hear the mantras: 

Less is more.

A picture tells a thousand words.

KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid – (though I prefer: “Keep it Short & Sweet”!)

As author Wilferd Peterson said, “See it big and keep it simple.” Have you ever been to a presentation where the presenter pulls up a slide so busy that you can’t read it, and he/she says: “I know this is a lot of info, and you can’t really read this so…” and then they turn their back to the audience as they start reading? Or they bring the audience’s attention to the various key items on the screen (that they can’t read)? Friends, if I see one more useless slide like that, I may just shoot spit wads through a straw at the projection screen. 

Keep these 3 rules in mind:

(1) Hand out more than you say: There’s your “busy” page – have at it!)

(2) Say more than you show: Know your material – don’t read slides to your audience.

(3) Show it simply: With a few simple words or images on the screen, you can weave in an interesting and informative story that will keep their attention.

Abandon White-Knuckle Control

Any event production company worth their salt will have a project manager dedicated to you and your event, focused on your objectives, and making your life easier. Find an experienced one you trust and let go of the death grip on your event. You’ll still be in control, just not juggling all of the balls yourself. Your production project manager should communicate with you regularly, pulling your event and technology together while watching over your objectives, budget, and all of the small details that create big results. No one wants to deal with a frazzled or distracted host (especially your attendees)! Leave it to your producers to deal with any crises that may come up – they’ve seen it before and are experienced at keeping their cool in these situations while they quickly resolve the issue! You will have better, more efficient control, and therefore addressing more important issues. You’ll be focused on the right tasks, so that you can enjoy the show – whether live, virtual or both. 

Trim the Fat

With the goal of a healthy, streamlined event, take the time now to reinvigorate your processes. Cut redundancy, eliminate what isn’t effective, and make good use of your production team – this is essential for the survival of your event! Good luck!