If you have not participated in an #eventprofs (Event Professionals) TweetChat, I suggest you try one! I attended my first session last Thursday, moderated by Tahira Endean (@TahiraCreates), on ways to add ‘freshness and wonder’ to your events. Throughout the chat, there was a recurring theme that kept popping up and generating different insight:
When designing any event, it’s important to consider the personalities of prospective attendees – introverts, extroverts and ambiverts. The goal is to create an environment that offers comfortable settings for all participants, regardless of their personality. Keep in mind that while some people thrive in social events, others are intimated and uncomfortable in such settings. The last thing you want to do is make someone anxious and rehash their fears of junior high… Am I going to be stuck eating alone by myself at a table?
Virtual parallels might be a compelling alternative for those who don’t enjoy the ‘sceney’ atmosphere of in-person events, but still want [or need] to participate in meaningful educational opportunities. More and more associations are beginning to understand and observe [first hand] the benefits of hybrid events. This non-traditional, virtual channel is an excellent vehicle for expanding the reach of in-person events. Several of our clients have enthusiastically expressed that by adding a hybrid component to their meetings, they were able to increase the size of their audience by an average of 20-45%. Who wouldn’t be excited about boosting event attendance, regardless of whether participants were present in-person or online?
For the naysayers who claim that online engagement isn’t the same as connecting in-person…we can’t argue with you. Online programs cannot replace the value of face-to-face interaction…they weren’t built to do that. Rather, web events are excellent mediums to support community interaction between in-person events, as well as for people who can’t make it to in-person programs. Successful virtual programs allow remote attendees to engage in a variety of ways: dynamic chat room discussions, Twitter feeds, virtual hand raising, break-out groups with white board and flip charts, as well as polling and Q&A. The overarching goal is to embrace introverts and empower them with the option of participating on their own terms.