Return to live events in a post-COVID world

By Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner.

On 21st June all COVID-19 restrictions are supposedly coming to an end. This means businesses will be excitedly looking to welcome their teams back into the office and can start to look further afield to holding in-person events, conferences and meetings again.

However, there is no precedent for how society should come out of a national lockdown caused by a pandemic. Therefore, details about what will come next and how it will work in practice raise several questions, including health and safety around large-scale events, the ethics around covid-19 pass ports and which regulations will be here to stay.

Here are the things businesses need to consider as we return to live events and the opportunities it creates as it allows people to reconnect with their teams, create a common purpose, and energise the company as the UK economy begins to re-open.

It seems with each week that passes, the freedoms and pastimes that we took for granted pre-COVID are slowly coming back. The cautious approach taken by the Government is eminently the sensible one while we eagerly wait June 21st to roll around.

Test events have been taking place over the past few weeks and will provide scientific data to support the return to live events en masse, including the prestigious FA Cup Final at Wembley. Pub gardens and restaurants have been full to the brim, even as Britain basked in typical spring rainstorms and cold.

The gradual restrictions of course are helping to build confidence that events, particularly indoor gatherings, are a safe and secure place to congregate. We’ve become conditioned over the past 12-months not to socially mix, so event organisers do need to outline via their pre-event communications how they intend to keep the event COVID-secure.

A key Government strategy appears to be testing, so encouraging lateral flow tests for example could be a good way to give confidence to attendees that a) they aren’t infectious and b) anyone who has tested positive will be isolating, and thus not in the room.

There’s also an ethical dilemma surrounding COVID passports and how this information is used. But, if COVID passports do become part of our lives, for example used to go on holidays or gain entry to bars/restaurants, then the social compliance will increase.

Regardless, if the attendee is desperate to meet in-person, or hesitant to travel to the office, event organisers and meeting planners therefore still need to consider the event experience itself.

So. perhaps it’s not a surprise that event venues outside London, with plenty of green space and outdoor facilities, have become popular. This not only complies with Government advice regarding meeting in the open air, but provides a welcome change of scenery from dining rooms and spare bedrooms.

Even as we head into Autumn and Winter, provided attendees have plenty of notice to bring appropriate clothing, organisers can create breakout meetings and networking opportunities in the open air.

Imagine going for an Autumnal walk, strategizing, imagining, bonding as a team, followed by a mulled glass of wine and hog roast!

The challenge event organisers and meeting planners have is to leave their attendees wanting more. They need to feel reassured the event was safe, be reminded of all the great qualities that come with meeting peers and colleagues, and leave feeling inspired to tackle the next days, weeks and months. Therefore selecting the right external speaker is crucial.

We all know the World has changed. There are new challenges to face, and opportunities to seize. Business have adapted and evolved, in some cases dramatically, within a relatively short space of time.

As we come out the other side of the pandemic, event organisers and meeting planners need to consider the short to medium term objectives of the business and use the speaker booking process to create an impact that reverberates long after the event has taken place.

Photo by Luigi Pozzoli on Unsplash

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