As the last printed piece of my presentation came off the printer, I received word the event I was preparing for was postponed. That was in mid-March and the first of many postponements because of the pandemic.
The presentation I was working on surrounded event planning. Since View Newspaper Group began hosting community events, we have been happy to share what we’ve learned. A signature piece of our events is that each one has a nonprofit partner. In just eight years, we’ve raised more than $113,000 for area nonprofits. Events are a part of who we are and who we will be. But if the speaking engagement I was preparing for takes place on its rescheduled date, I’ll be preparing a new presentation. Events as we once knew them are changed. It may not be forever, but it’s for now.
After the initial wave of COVID-19 changed, our team began to think about how we move forward with events. Full disclosure, you aren’t going to find any answers in this column regarding our specific events. We’ve been working behind the scenes, but we don’t know what the future holds yet.
One avenue we’ve explored is virtual events. I’ve attended a couple in the past few weeks and I give major kudos to groups for making it happen.
I recently watched a webinar on the topic. While it was specific to virtual events, I realized a lot of the ideas shared can be applied to any aspect in the business world right now. Here are some things to think about as you move forward:
We still need to network and build connections — Whether it’s via text, email, phone or video conferencing, we have to find ways to get together.
Give yourself time to adapt and embrace the new world — Take the time you need to get your ducks in a row and then go for it.
Acknowledge things are different — A virtual event, a restaurant with less capacity, a town without a summer festival — it’s all different. Go ahead and say it out loud.
Approach everything with empathy — Everyone in the world is dealing with the same challenges. Prove it with empathy.
Be transparent — No one has it all figured out. There are going to be glitches. At one virtual event, the DJ had technical issues but couldn’t leave the platform because we’d lose the music. So, she took a phone call and got the problem fixed while we kept celebrating.
Bring the energy — Speaking of celebrations – this one is easy!
Over communicate — Whatever is changing or staying the same you have to tell everyone. Your customers, your team, your neighbor.
Get back to basics — Why do you do what you do? What do you love about what you do? Ask yourself and then proceed.
The future isn’t clear, but it’s coming. Get ready.
Emily Caswell is the Brand Manager at VIEW Group, the branding division of View Newspaper Group.