Beeler.Brief: Events should Inspire ChangeAug 08, 2021
As we hopefully return to in-real-life events, we have an opportunity to make some much-needed changes. I'd like to start a conversation about what event companies should do, what sponsors should consider and what attendees think about.
First, let's address the fact that as much as we want to get back to normal, this is going to be an awkward transition for many people getting back into the swing of things. For some, it will be particularly challenging. The pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues for some, addiction issues for others.
Event organizers have to be on top of this transition. I don't know what training is available, but people should learn to recognize people in distress or need of assistance. (What training do you recommend?)
Opening receptions I think are particularly tough. Event organizers - focus on bringing people into conversations.
What we really should do is provide more non-drinking opportunities for networking.
Yes, this is coming from a guy who likes to be the life of the party. But even I recognize not everyone is around to hear my telling of the boat on fire story.
Drinking is not an option for everyone and it's a dangerous option for others. Create engaging networking areas that are away from the bar.
I also recommend that people with addiction or who are "sober curious" that they connect and come into events with a plan. The unstoppable force that is Julia Smith, a pillar in the UK advertising community has created Sobalicious and a WhatsApp group to help those who need to move beyond our industry's drinking culture.
Keep in mind that for many, they haven't been in social situations for some time. For some, this means drinking is going to lead potentially to some bad decisions. It's important to keep an eye out for people putting themselves in harm's way as well as those without the best intentions in mind. I particularly call out men to watch out for the behavior of other men. I haven't had a chance to talk to the guys at YESALLMEN and get involved, but the mission is spot-on: educating men on how to be better allies. Conferences are a critical place to be an ally.
For sponsors, you can see where this is going. If your only pitch is to buy the next round, you're leaving business on the table. Consider changing things up.
I know, major buzzkill. Get over it. We can do better AND still have fun.
I haven't touched on diversity which needs its own conversation. I don't want to short-change that discussion. I'll make a few points now, however, just so I can make them again and again.
Events are meant to connect people. That means giving attendees and potential attendees the tools to seek out people that they will be comfortable within a conference setting. More women will attend conferences if they see more women attending conferences for example.
Events are also meant to inspire. That goes beyond the agenda to the whole experience. Start to finish, your event should reflect the world as it should be, not necessarily as it is.
Hey, I'm learning to practice what I preach. What I need is to add your voice to this conversation. What thoughts do you have on what I've shared? Let's come together and make things happen.
Events should be a key agent of change going forward.
As people link to resources and add to the conversation, I'll post here:
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