his article is part of our new Future of Events 2021 Series which will interview a mix of event organizers, consultants, thought leaders, and other event professionals responsible for overseeing events put on by their organization. Our goal with this series is to help event organizers best prepare for the future of events.
The following is an interview we had recently with Courtney Stanley, Keynote Speaker & Event Emcee, Courtney Stanley Consulting, LLC
What are the top trends that will shape the events space in 2021?
CS: Empathy, empathy, empathy! More than ever, our industry is focused on not just satisfying customers, partners and attendees, but truly serving them. As a community, we have been gifted with an opportunity – in the form of a silver lining – to take a step back and get to the heart of why we do the work we do: to connect, empower, inspire, and support our people. In 2021, event professionals will continue to collaborate creatively and design experiences that push boundaries beyond business and meet the holistic needs of their audiences.
What are the top mistakes you see organizations make with events?
CS: One area of improvement for our industry is the willingness to take risks. Too often, organizations use an annual template for their conferences, where we see the same agenda, many of the same speakers, similar networking events, and possibly a new technology integrated into the experience. This past year has forced us to do things differently, and though it has been stressful for many event professionals, it has provided us with opportunities to think outside our typical box and reimagine how we bring people together. Moving forward, I’d like to see more organizations shake things up and really push the boundaries on designing exceptionally memorable experiences.
What are the keys to a successful event?
CS: Many times we jump into the tactics too quickly, without taking the time to make space for meaningful strategy. To have a truly successful event, it’s important to identify your “why” or your organization’s overall objectives. What is the end goal of your event? Who are you serving? What are their needs? How will you be able to measure whether the experience you’re designing meets your strategic goals? Your strategy should inform your tactics, not the other way around.
What makes events such an important channel?
CS: The power of events lies with the people. No other form of marketing can measure up to real, meaningful, authentic human connection. Change begins with conversation; events are the catalyst.
In your own words, what will the future of events look like?
CS: I believe that we will continue to leverage some of the virtual strategies and technologies we’ve adopted this year, but I also think that future in-person events will have tremendous energy, impact, and power. I believe that planners will heed the call for more women and BIPOC speakers to use their voices on stage, and I think that there will be a greater focus on overall sustainability. We have an opportunity to go right back to the way things were prior to the pandemic, or to take the best of what we’ve learned and apply it to the way we empower people to learn, connect, and grow. I’m betting on the latter.
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