Category: Personal Development

Thanksgiving planning like a pro: tried and tested strategies

Family enjoying Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving planning is no mean feat. Like any other occasion, it has its own logistics and practicalities, yet Turkey Day is a banquet of epic proportions, a cornucopia of endless culinary iterations (you’re either Team Apple Pie or Team Pumpkin Pie, OK?) and often — as any gathering of family and friends is wont to be — a feast of deep and rich emotions.

Bearing in mind the complexities of the day — the large and sometimes disparate guest list, your diners’ multiple dietary requirements, the obsession with perfect timing, the endless simmering (of both gravy and feuds) — we at Eventsforce wondered what it would be like if we applied some of the planning tactics familiar to every event professional to organise and pull off a perfect Thanksgiving. So without further ado — and because every Thanksgiving chef is well and truly a planner at heart — this is your perfect Turkey Day, portioned out, plated up and served with efficiency thanks to the power of professional event planning.

  1. Define the Day and Choose the Date — With Care

A thoughtful host and a careful planner begins by naming and defining the purpose of their occasion. For many Americans and those around the globe with a broad awareness of American culture, Thanksgiving speaks for itself. However, there are many for whom the day is entirely foreign; bear this in mind and be prepared to describe the holiday to give context to anyone not familiar with Thanksgiving festivities. In the US and its territories, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, which is a public holiday. As those marking the day overseas well know, Thanksgiving is not observed internationally and so you’ll want to schedule your feast for a weekend and/or a time appropriate to the surrounding culture (i.e., avoiding local days of religious observance, etc.).

  1. Pause and Prep for effective Thanksgiving planning

What’s a planner without a schedule? In terms of overall preparation, a savvy Thanksgiving host begins their initial preparations approximately a month to three weeks out from the big day. Here’s a rough timeline for your Thanksgiving preparations; feel free to add in your own points and adjust, as needed:

  • 1 month to three weeks before: know your budget, select your date, have a rough estimate for guest figures, choose your venue
  • Three to two weeks before: create a WhatsApp group/some kind of platform to communicate with guests, issue invites with RSVPs, set your menu, order turkey, verify freezer space for cooking ahead (see next point)
  • One week before: ensure you have enough seating, cutlery, plates, glasses, mugs etc., for everyone in attendance, cook/freeze side dishes
  • Three days to one day before: defrost turkey/pick-up fresh bird, check that your  roasting tin is large enough and that your turkey and tin can fit in the oven, defrost your sides and create an on-the-day masterlist for cooking timings
  • On the day: Cook and rest turkey, make your mash, bake rolls and heat through sides, gravy and pies
  1. Selecting the Venue, Setting the Time

A professional event planner may have multiple venues up for consideration, but your home — with its familiar kitchen — is absolutely your best bet. There is nothing more disorienting than cooking Thanksgiving for a crowd in an unfamiliar kitchen. On that note, if you decide to use an alternative venue, do as any planner would do and familiarise yourself with the space ahead of time, making a note of where pots, pans, plates, dishes, cutlery and all utensils are stored. Test the oven to ensure that you know both how to adjust the temperature and also if it runs hotter or cooler than your appliance at home.

When you set your time for the occasion, take into account the intricacies of your menu (for example, a whole turkey takes much longer to cook than a crown), the schedules of your guests, the size of your oven and even things such as the nap schedules of smaller diners. HINT: when setting the time, suggest an early afternoon sitting to allow your guests to enjoy a leisurely meal, a point that also enables you to avoid cleaning up late into night.

  1. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

You might already have a reasonable idea of who you want to invite to your Thanksgiving feast, but it’s wise to firm things up with a more formal invite, issued via the platform most convenient to your guests. Unlike a professional planner, you won’t have a bespoke app at your disposal for the occasion, but consider setting up a WhatsApp group specifically for the day. After all, all you really want is a platform that will enable you to communicate with guests directly both in the run up to and on the day of your Thanksgiving feast.

Once you’ve issued invites — preferably with some kind of RSVP to enable you to move forward with a precise number of guests — you can use this forum to provide arrivals with information on points like transport options for getting to your venue and, if needed, details on parking.

  1. Menu Madness with a side of Guest Engagement

Now is the time to plan your feast in earnest. With your platform set up, you can easily gather information on any dietary requirements. In keeping with convention, the traditional Thanksgiving feast is comprised of the following core dishes:

– Turkey

– Stuffing

– Mashed potatoes and gravy

– Cranberry sauce

– Green bean casserole

– Sweet potato casserole

– Dinner rolls

– Pumpkin OR apple pie

Depending on your personal custom, taste, diet and budget, you may not follow this exact menu and instead opt for a variation on these foods. But know that once invited, guests may offer to bring certain menu items. While this level of enthusiastic engagement certainly is the stuff of planners’ dreams, you should — as the person who is ultimately responsible for feeding your guests — consider these offers with care. After all, should someone volunteer to cook one of the above key items and then either forget their offer or be unable to attend on the day, this hole in the menu will create serious last-minute stress for you.

So, to any kind offers of help, you may want to ask volunteers to bring a dish or an item that — while perhaps not traditional to the Thanksgiving table (hello vegan quiche) — if forgotten or not made, won’t ruin your feast. With this diplomatic and discreet tactic, your guests are actively participating in the occasion, but you still have full control over this event in the culinary sense.

  1. Maximise Time and Budget: Shop and Cook with Care

Like any other planner, you need to maximise your time and your budget and so it pays to carefully comb through your freezer, fridge and cupboards to see what you can use to shave both pennies and seconds off your pre-Thanksgiving shop. Take the time to walk back through your menu — down to the individual recipe ingredients — and try to incorporate what you already have in your cupboard into your meal — be it spices, tea or coffee, potatoes, onions or a few bottles of wine for the table. Anything you can find will help lessen the cost of your feast.

If, like many modern hosts, you find yourself cooking for guests with multiple dietary restrictions, you’d be wise to find a recipe that meets all requirements (rather than cooking multiple variations of a single recipe). For example, if you’re catering for vegetarians as well as those who are gluten and dairy-free, you can easily make a vegetarian gravy with cornflour that suits these requirements and still tastes absolutely delicious. Most importantly, if you work ahead, cranberry sauce, sweet potato and green bean casseroles, rolls, gravy, stuffing and pies can all be made in advance, frozen and then defrosted a day or so ahead of Thanksgiving to be heated through on the big day.

  1. Find a (Sober) Second in Command to help with your Thanksgiving planning

Even with the best organisation and preparation, the frank truth of Thanksgiving is that you’ll still be spending a lot of the day in the kitchen. As the chef and chief organiser, you know your timings and what needs to be done exactly when and that’s why it pays to delegate any other tasks — be they cleaning, setting up, decorating, answering queries via your WhatsApp channel or greeting guests (and keeping them out of the kitchen!) to a trusted second in command. But before you do this, talk them through what you need and expect from them on the day because — just as with any other event — communication is absolutely key to the success of your Thanksgiving. Likewise, if you need and expect them to be stone cold sober for the day, be honest with them (and buy them a nice bottle of wine for later).

  1. Handling Disagreements, No-Shows and Leftovers

The gravy’s not always the only thing that simmers on Thanksgiving and so — when it comes to handling familial disagreements and tensions — if you feel an assigned seating chart will help keep things civil, feel free to draw one up. Likewise, if you know that you can rely on your guests and your second in command to resolve any issues that might crop up, don’t worry about assigned seating. But if you are worried about any extra prickly guests or potentially awkward situations, speak to your number two to agree on a strategy to handle these so as not to impact the overall good vibes of your day.

Family tensions aside, the other things you can always rely on at Thanksgiving are no-shows and leftovers. Whether it’s down to illness or a scheduling conflict, it’s frustrating to realise that you may have over-catered your event. But if you are aware of no-shows even just a few hours in advance, you can always ask your guests to come with empty containers in hand, explaining that they’d be doing you a huge favour by taking some extra food home with them. You’ll find that many are only too happy to oblige and — what’s more — that this level of guest participation makes you look extra generous, all while cannily relieving you of the burden of leftovers.

  1. No, Thank You!

Yes, of course your guests should be thanking you for your outstanding culinary efforts. But even if your Thanksgiving planning doesn’t quite go to plan (and what event does?), there’s nothing that adds an extra glow to the day like a gracious host. This is precisely why you need to deploy a final tried-and-trusted planning strategy and offer your thanks to your guests when the day is done. After all, they have given you their time, their attention and — of course — their willingness to eat sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows (hey, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea).

Indeed, by being a grateful host, you’re the living embodiment of everything that this unique day — whether you’ve celebrated it before or not — truly symbolises. And what’s more, by striking a gracious note, you — as the chef, the host and the planner — are setting exactly the right tone for next year’s feast and for all the good things yet to come.


Running live, virtual or hybrid events? Want to maiximise event success like you’ve done with your thanksgiving planning? Give your attendees an event experience they’ll remember with technology you can rely on. Learn how Eventsforce can make your next event fabulous and successful. Book your personalised demo now.

The “Other” New Normal: How Planners Have Adapted to Remote Working


The COVID-19 pandemic has indelibly changed the ways in which we live and work.  For those planning event remotely, the advent and continued popularity of hybrid and remote is undeniably one of the era’s lasting legacies, one which has left a profound mark on the wider industry.  Yet deeper still runs the impact of another new normal: remote working.  As the results of our white paper have revealed, this practice is now firmly entrenched within the sector’s wider working culture.  But for planners — who rely on close interactions and connections to create successful events — the rise of remote working has not come without its challenges. It’s time to explore how this new normal has changed not only how planners undertake their work, but how they have adapted so swiftly and successfully to such radical change.

Planning events remotely? The Before and The After

Prior to 2020, face-to-face personal communication — between planners and colleagues and planners and their audiences — was unquestionably the norm.  Today, our vantage point at the very top of the post-pandemic era makes it easier to stop and look back at both the advantages and disadvantages of what once was.  To be certain, planners thrived on the spontaneous sparks of interaction and inspiration that truly only come when working side-by-side with colleagues in a face-to-face environment.  From a logistical perspective, on-site working offered a forum for direct and instantaneous collaboration and the facility to swiftly clarify questions, problems, and concerns as planners moved forward through the planning process of an event with their colleagues.  Hand in hand with on-site working, of course, came emotional intelligence, something that coloured the working day with shades and tones of emotion and created a rapport of shared interpersonal experiences between colleagues.

For planners — as for professionals in almost every other sector and industry — the transition to remote working has been both a challenge and a revelation.  While that spontaneous spark of person-to-person collaboration and communication may have flickered with the initial introduction of remote working, the enthusiasm shown by planners for their industry has remained undiminished.  In these few years — in a move that attests to their professionalism and passion for their industry — planners have surmounted that initial shock of change to make a true success of a very real challenge.

Adapting to the New Normal

From today’s vantage point, this success looks effortless, but planners have deployed hard graft and incredible agility to meet in real-time the demands made by the sudden move to remote working.  What’s more, successful planners have implemented specific techniques to ensure that this broader shift in the working world has not impacted the quality of their events — even as they’ve had to grapple with fundamental changes within the sector.

First among these tactics is a fundamental awareness of both the benefits and the challenges brought about by this move to remote working. While it certainly offers flexibility and financial benefits for both employers and employees, remote working can be a direct challenge to the kind of spontaneous, collaborative environment in which so many planners thrive.  In fact, it’s fair to say that this is the primary threat posed by remote working to planning teams, but canny planners have sought to head it off by any means.  While it’s true that — at a very basic level — tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Workspace, Asana, and Trello, etc., can be effective platforms for communication and project management, technology itself is not the deciding factor when it comes to successful event planning in a remote environment.

Techniques for Nurturing a Collaborative Culture in the World of Remote Work

That is to say, the most effective and efficient event planners of today have taken the time and effort to establish a culture and context around remote working, setting practical guidance and clear protocols to smooth and ease the flow of communication and collaboration between themselves and their teams.  For today’s remote planners, these simple practices often include clearly indicating their designated platform for communication and/or project management tasks (i.e., Google Workspace, Slack, etc.).  Good planners — especially those in management positions — are also clear about establishing protocols in terms of the expected frequency of virtual team meetings and 1-to-1 check-ins.

Over the last three years, many organisations have made a decisive operational shift to remote working.  Yet, savvy planners recognise the power that in-person collaboration still holds when it comes to sparking inspiration and rapport among their remote teams.  This is why planners still lean on face-to-face meet-ups as a trusted tool for enlivening their work with that all-important spark of spontaneity. They know that these in-person meetings have the potential to bring new perspectives and new knowledge and, from an emotional welfare standpoint, can brighten the day-to-day routine — and even cut the isolation — that sometimes comes along with remote working.  Most importantly, meeting face-to-face offers a forum for remote planners to share and address the tasks and problems that they may struggle to grapple with on their own — challenges that simply cannot be met virtually or individually.

It may now be the new normal, but for event planners — for whom the cut and thrust of close interpersonal communication will always be second nature — the shift to remote working has proven to be a true challenge.  And yet — as with any of the many other obstacles that have emerged over the last three years — this group of professionals has risen to the task to make a true success of this profound change.


Planning events remotely? Running live, virtual or hybrid events? Give your attendees an event experience they’ll remember with technology you can rely on. Learn how Eventsforce can make your next event fabulous and successful. Book your personalized demo now.

4 Key Learnings from MPI’s 2021 EMEC Conference

4 lessons from MPI EMEC

The annual MPI European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) took place in June, and despite it being virtual only, it didn’t disappoint.  As one of Europe’s main conferences for event professionals, the show had a dedicated theme focusing on business development & personal growth and featured a packed selection of inspiring speakers.

The one-day virtual event also focused on creating an attendee experience that was more like a TV production than a Zoom call – with opening titles, a game show, a rap performance before finishing with movie-style closing credits.

From the importance of mental health awareness and collaboration to discussions about sustainability and the changing the role of event data, have a look at our top take-aways from the show:

1) Value Your Life

The opening keynote speaker, Gill Hicks was beamed in live from Adelaide, Australia. Gill Hicks is considered to be one of the most thought provoking, powerful and life affirming speakers in Australia and the UK. She is known globally as a survivor of the London terrorist bombings on July 7, 2005. She survived but suffered severe and permanent injuries, losing both legs from just below the knee.

Gill captivated the virtual audience through her heart-rending memories. A master storyteller, she shared how she defied death and went on to transform her life. The conference’s theme was “Make Your Future” and Gill was the perfect speaker to open it. It wasn’t just her incredible story of survival and transformation that resonated. It was also her perspective on the beauty there is in being alive.

She reminded us that we need to make time for each other, understand our differences and be ready to look at the world in a different way. And then we need to make a contribution that is worthy of our efforts. It was a truly inspirational speech and one that struck a chord with many event professionals, particularly after the year we’ve all just had.

Read: 10 Signs Event Planning is Burning You Out

2) Your Event Data is Invaluable

Ian Webb from Eventsforce delivered a masterclass in the value of data and the insights that can be put to good use. He explained that findings from a new research study showed that more than 1 in 2 event professionals are struggling with the volume of data collected from virtual events.  That there is a multiplicity of data available today, coming in from different directions. And we need strategies to be able to deal with it.

Read: How Covid-19 is Changing the Role of Event Data

He emphasised the importance of event teams having someone (or several people) dedicated to looking at data collected from events and making sense of it. Because whilst planners can collect data from webinars, virtual events, hybrid events, in person events, it all has to be brought together to make it meaningful. You need the insights that come from analysis to help you improve your product, service, or whatever else you provide.

Ian reminded us that it is not just about the live data either. On-demand data is also highly significant. For example, EMEC 2021 has on demand content available to all those who registered, for a further three months. People consume content differently and therefore those sponsors and speakers will be seen time and again from now until the middle of September. And that data is worth measuring at the end of the period. More insights for planners will come as a result.

He also went on to talk about the importance of making sure that the data is secure, because hackers have become ever more sophisticated. Ian spoke about the differences in data protection laws around the globe and how a savvy planner has to be on top of changing requirements. The big change for many event planners is that they now need to be even more on top of sensitive information such as health data. There is of course even more of that now, stemming from the need to be Covid safe.

3) Collaboration is Key to Success

One of the most interactive sessions of the day was the “Collaboration Challenge” where a number of contestants appeared live on screen in a live, interactive game show. The contestants were asked questions by the game show host, Euan Graham, who asked about the world in which we live, about MPI, and about issues within Europe. And all of this was against the clock.

What the audience couldn’t see though were the busy teams of helpers behind each contestant. There were no rules as to how that team could help. There were no rules as to what they should or shouldn’t do. The only rules were that the teams had to submit their answers within 10 minutes of the questions being asked.

Whilst this was a game show, it was a collaboration challenge for Europe’s MPI chapter members. It added a certain sparkle, tension and excitement to the day. Attendees watching virtually, were able to cheer their teams on and it was definitely one of the most innovative parts of an original and interesting event.

Read: 20 reasons You Should Be Planning Events as a Team

4) Take an Objective View

The final learning from EMEC is from the “Outside-In” panel. The panellists were chosen because they have an in-depth understanding and practical experience of events. But they also had a little distance from being involved in day-to-day events. They were drawn from the worlds of insurance, retail, healthcare, and learning and development. A nice mix of perspectives. The session was chaired by EventMB editor, Miguel Neves, who led their discussions around the most important issues affecting event professionals today.

Rather than attempting to solve those massive issues in one session, the panel provided us with a variety of views from the different sectors they represented. It can be too easy for event professionals to only look at what’s going on in their own sector. So the variety of perspectives managed to be both interesting and insightful.

The panel questioned some of the established beliefs that event professionals have. They raised sometimes awkward questions about whether organizers can ever be truly sustainable at the same time as encouraging groups to travel the globe. But the key issue they raised was about how relevant and enticing new in-person events will need to be to attract people in a post-pandemic world. The virtual option was attractive for many attendees there.  And most agreed that what planners did pre-Covid may no longer be as attractive as it once was.

ConclusionA Catalyst for Change

Overall, EMEC 2021 demonstrated a truly fresh way in which a virtual production can be put together. It was thought provoking in terms of content and also displayed some truly innovative methods for delivering such content.

Collaboration was one of the key drivers of the event from its inception. And you could see how the Executive Producer, Paul Cook, collaborated with the sponsors, the speakers, the crew and the delegates to make this production into a powerful experience.

But a key takeaway from the day was something that Paul made clear in his session. This event was a catalyst. No single event can provide all the answers, but this catalyst event lived up to its theme. The design, delivery and content in the EMEC 2021 production will continue to help event professionals make their future.

Enjoyed this round-up?  Why not sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk newsletter for tips, updates and research reports on all the latest technology and marketing trends shaping the events industry today.







10 Most Read Stories on Covid-19 and Virtual Events

10 most popular stories on Covid-19 and meetings and events
Want the lowdown on tech trends and virtual events? In your inbox, every week.

Almost a year has passed since the Covid-19 pandemic turned the world of events upside down.  Many events got cancelled. Many got postponed.  And many more went online.  The dramatic shift to virtual events created all sorts of new challenges for planners.  From rethinking agenda design and managing remote speakers to dealing with new tech and finding interesting ways of keeping people engaged.

eBook: Virtual Events – How to Keep Your Attendees Engaged

Yes, virtual events will never replace the face to face experience and in-person events will slowly make a return in some form or another.  But if there’s one take-away from 2020, it’s that virtual events can be incredibly valuable.  You can still create a sense of community with audiences.  You can reach out to more people who typically don’t attend in-person events.   You can still provide education and learning and give attendees the tools that help them engage and make valuable connections – much in the same way you would for your in-person events.  And you can still generate revenue too.

With all this in mind, we thought we’d share our top stories from 2020 covering different aspects of virtual event trends.   These were ten articles on our blog that really hit the mark with our readers and give a good indication of the kind of topics that organisers seem most concerned about too.

Based on unique page views and social media shares, have a look at our most popular event management stories from 2020:

#1 Seven Ways Events Will Change in a Post Covid-19 World

No one really knows what events will look like in a post COVID-19 world. Even when in-person events resume, the reality is likely to be that for a significant amount of time, attendees will be split between those willing and able to attend physically and those who will not. We have seen a number of interesting articles across industry sites which give organisers a lot of good information on what live events may look like in the ‘new normal’ and some of the things they need to think about for their future planning. Demonstrating different approaches and advice, have a look at some of the key things to consider when encouraging attendees to come to your in-person events. Read more.

#2 How to Manage Sponsor and Exhibitor Expectations Around Virtual Events

The new virtual event environment has made the whole process of securing sponsors and exhibitors a lot more difficult for organisers – both in terms of providing value and managing expectations.  But the reality is that virtual events can be incredibly valuable for these important stakeholders.  They can help them reach out to more people.  They can engage with them in more creative and memorable ways.  And more importantly, they have more opportunities to extend this engagement long after the event is over.  Take a look at some of the key things you need to do to get the buy-in you need from your sponsors and exhibitors around virtual events. Read more.

#3 Infographic: The Impact of Covid-19 on Meetings and Events

As the Covid-19 situation spread across the world, our industry faced an unprecedented time of risk and uncertainty.  This infographic looks at the results of a research study conducted at the beginning of the pandemic with 550+ event planners investigating what impact it has had on meetings and events.  It also looks at how organisers are making critical decisions around cancellations, the uptake of virtual events, what challenges they’re facing – and how they’re spending their time working from home.  Read more.

#4 Ask the Experts: Virtual Events – What Can We Do Better in 2021?

If we look back at the year and assess how things went, what would we change? How did organisers deal with the new challenges they faced? What were the biggest lessons learnt?  And what can we do better in 2021? EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well-known virtual event experts to find out more about their views on the event landscape this year – including what went well, what didn’t and what they think will be the biggest trends over the coming year. Read more.

#5 Key Skills for Running Successful Virtual Events

Managing virtual events requires a different set of skills from event planners – from filming and broadcasting to writing scripts and dealing with new tech. But according to a recent poll from Eventsforce, 53% of event planners don’t feel they have the skills or experience in running successful online events. This could be very worrying, especially as these events are going to be around for a while.  Have a look at some of the key traits and skills organisers can focus on to run more successful virtual events. Read more.

#6 Events and Covid-19: How to Manage Your Delegate Expectations

Research shows that 1 in 4 event planners see managing delegate expectations as one of the biggest challenges of the job in the last year. Organisers want to be doing everything they can to protect their delegates. They want to make things easier for them, continue educating them, whilst minimising disruption and anxiety.  But it’s not easy. Have a look at the best ways of communicating with attendees in the three most likely scenarios – cancelling or postponing an event, going ahead with an event and making the move to virtual.  Read more.

#7 Covid-19 and Event Insurance – What You Need to Know

Event planners all around the world are having to make difficult decisions in a constantly changing environment.  Many are also having to deal with the financial consequences of cancelling and rescheduling events – which adds another level of burden especially when it comes to dealing with insurance cover. So what are some of the critical things organisers need to understand about event insurance in the current climate?  What should you realistically expect from your insurance provider if you’re cancelling an event and how can you prepare for the future? Read more.

#8 Nine Most Commons Mistakes with Virtual Events

In a short period of time, organisers have had to quickly adapt their skills set to a virtual setting.  They’ve had to understand the increasing expectations of delegates that require more and more from a virtual experience.  They’ve also had to deal with many issues that typically come about in an online setting. Have a look at dome of the most common mistakes that appear time and again in the creation and delivery of virtual events – along with some best practice advice on how to avoid them. Read more.

#9 How to Make Money from Your Virtual Events

Although a lot of online events these days are paid-for affairs – the majority remain free to attend.  And this is partly because many organisers become a bit stuck when it comes to thinking how they can charge for virtual events – a recent poll showed that 40% of event planners are concerned about charging people for their online events. The reality is that virtual and hybrid events both present a perfect opportunity for event organisations to increase their revenue – whether it’s through ticket sales, bookable items, exhibitors or sponsorship.  And it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. Read more.

#10 How to Choose a Virtual Event Platform

Virtual event platforms can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What might seem like a good solution for one event may not work for another.  So how do you choose the right one? Based on recent discussions we’ve had with clients and other organisations pivoting to virtual events, have a look at some of the key things all virtual event platforms need to do to help organisers make the most of their technology investment. Read more.

Want to stay up to date?  Why not sign up to our EventTech Talk newsletter for weekly tips, updates and research reports on all the latest event planning, marketing and technology trends shaping our industry today.






Top Event Planning Skills You Need in a Post Covid-19 World

event planning skills post covid-19

Change in our industry is nothing new. It’s something event planners have been dealing with in every aspect of their job. But 2020, we saw some truly significant changes due to the dramatic impact of the Covid-19. Event design has changed, venue operations have changed and how attendees consume content has changed. It is a lot to deal with for event professionals. And we have no idea what’s coming next.

But as we take a step into 2021, it’s important that organizers step back, evaluate and prepare to ensure success in these unpredictable times.  With that in mind, we have put together seven post- pandemic skills that event planners should focus on today. Let’s take a look.

1) Sales, Persuasion and Negotiation 

The ability to sell is within each one of us. It’s not just for the people that have the job title of Sales. We are all persuading and negotiating with each other throughout our day to day activities. Most of the time we don’t realize we are doing it.

And it’s a good thing, because whatever your role is, you are going to need your inherent ‘sales’ skills more than ever before. With clients, with stakeholders, with delegates. Selling, negotiating and persuading skills are crucial in a world where the events landscape has changed beyond recognition. Even selling in-person events will be different. For attendees to want to come to your event, it really needs to stand out, meet hygiene standards and focus on in-person experiences. And then there is the business of selling the virtual. Talking to clients about virtual and hybrid events will soon become part of the everyday language of all event professionals.

Related read: Ask the Experts: Virtual events – what can we do better in 2021

2) Social Distancing Design and Management

Social distancing and its importance in helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19 has been uppermost in the minds of venue managers and event planners for many months now. Even when a vaccine to combat the virus has been rolled out across the globe there will be a need for social distancing to continue.

Therefore, at least in 2021 social distancing management needs to be in place. And in-person events have to be more carefully and creatively designed with safety and sanitation measures in place.  Event design is about to become more complex for planners. But, it also provides an opportunity for savvy event professionals to make a bigger impact.

Related read: 7 ways events will change in a post-Covid 19 world

3) Community Manager Mindset

As virtual events bring event audiences more online – embracing the mind-set of a community manager is also going to be a key post pandemic skill. Whilst you do not need to have the role of a community manager, understanding what they do and how you can help them will be very beneficial.

Community managers are all about engaging with the community that is important to the organization. It could be a community of staff or the community could be subscribers or viewers or potential buyers. However, understanding the communities that your organization needs to engage with and then being able to assist with ideas on content and social media activity will certainly help.

4) Risk Taking

In 2021 more risk taking will definitely be required. We are not talking about big make or break risks, but experimentation is needed. No longer is there any set approach for events. Yes, the principles remain similar but making in-person, virtual and hybrid events become real successes will involve trying new approaches, testing what works and learning as you go. In many ways, risk taking can be quite refreshing. And as the events sector is known for its creativity, problem solving and entrepreneurial spirit there will be many people that embrace it. To succeed you will have to take risks. How else will you stand out from your competition?

Related read: How event planners can use this time to stay competitive

5. Seeing the Virtue in Virtual

According to a recent poll from Eventsforce, 53% of event planners don’t feel they have the necessary skills nor experience in running successful online events. This could be very worrying, especially as these events are going to be around for a while.

The good news is that many of the skills needed by event planners have already been gained by delivering live events. These skills can be easily transferred across to help deliver virtual productions.

However, whether you are a planner or have a different role, all event sector professionals need to understand what goes into creating and delivering virtual events. This is essential as virtual events form such an important way in which all organizations can keep in front of their customers and stakeholders.

On-Demand Webinar: How to become a tech-savvy event planner

6) Helping Develop Hybrid Events

Closely following on the heels of virtual events are hybrid events. Hybrid events are combination events that enable in-person delegates to meet at a physical venue and for virtual delegates to attend via a web-link.

These events are perfect for providing attendees with real choice as to how they can participate. And whilst many countries have lockdowns going on, hybrid events offer local in-person hubs to be created whilst at the same time they enable organizations to reach out across the miles to welcome virtual delegates. Hybrid events are important in helping organizations stay in front of their customers.

Therefore, they need to be understood and included in the event strategy mix. Critically all event professionals involved in hybrid events must make their programs work for both the in-person and virtual delegates.

7) Data-Led Decision Making 

As the events sector has been dramatically impacted by Covid-19 any old assumptions that were relied on to make business decisions are now of no value. Everything has changed and continues to change. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that organizations study their data. Not their old data but the new data. The data that will give them clues and insights about what their customers actually want.

Whilst ‘gut instinct’ as a means of making decisions will never disappear (and neither should it), analyzing data will become even more important. And that analysis needs to be deeper than before. It cannot simply be a cursory glance at some analytics. It needs to get to the root of understanding what is going on in different sectors and in different regions across the globe. People that understand how to analyze data and bring it to life in a way that the C-Suite understands are going to be in big demand.

Where to Find These Skills    

Some of the skills highlighted may feel overwhelming. Or you may already have them in abundance. But, whatever your situation, it’s a good idea to be honest about what you and your team members are good at. For example, some people are much better at risk taking than others. The good news is that many of the key skills can be developed through your own efforts. There are numerous blog posts, eBooks, videos and podcasts that can assist.

And in addition, there are many options for developing skills through learning programs and courses developed by industry associations, film schools and commercial companies. Many of these are available online which means you can learn in your own time. If you need to call in external consultants and training providers, then do so. It will be an invaluable investment

The post pandemic skills we have highlighted are quite specialist. You could decide that you want to become an expert in all of them and that would take a considerable investment in time. But that may not be totally necessary. What is necessary is that you understand that these key skills are the ones to develop across the organization that you are part of.

Conclusion – Time for Action is Now

Event professionals had to deal with a lot of change and disruption in 2020. The events that we have come to know and love have been impacted. The reverberations of the changes can still be heard and felt. But, whilst it is hard for those professionals that wish for the sector to remain as it was, those times are gone.

Covid-19 pressed the pause button on many industries and allowed time for reflection. As we lean into 2021 that time is over. Now it is time to move forward and get as many of the new post pandemic skills as possible. It’s time to embrace the change and come up with new event formats for clients. After all, one thing is for sure they will be looking to you for new initiatives and new developments to help their business succeed. How much you help by becoming their go-to resource will in large part be down to how you adapt and develop.

Your journey may not be an easy one but it’s time to act now.  Grab the post pandemic skills you need and delight your clients in 2021.

Running virtual events?  Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Watch video, book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!
















Ask the Experts: Virtual Events – What Can We Do Better in 2021?

virtual event trends 2021

There is no doubt that virtual events are here to stay. Even when consumer confidence comes back, vaccines are rolled out and people start travelling around again, having a virtual element to a live in-person event will become the norm. But if we look back at the year and assess how things went, what would we change?

How did organisers deal with the new challenges they faced? What were the biggest lessons learnt?  And what can we do better in 2021?

EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well-known virtual event experts to find out more about their views on the event landscape this year – including what went well, what didn’t and what they think will be the biggest trends over the coming year.

Let’s take a look.

Brandt Krueger – Technical Producer, Consultant, and Educator for the Meeting & Events Industry

Those organisations that are going to be the most successful in 2021 are going to be those that used this time not to stand still, not to replicate our in-person events online, but to push the boundaries and try new things.  Attendees have been more than forgiving these last 10 months, and while some saw online events as a stopgap before returning back to “real” events, others chose to use it as an opportunity to flex their muscles about what a quality online experience could look like.

As we return to in-person events, hybrid is going to be the model of the day. I’m sorry to the naysayers, but I just really believe that no matter how fast we get the world vaccinated, there’s going to be a population that’s going to be less likely to pull the in-person trigger, wishing to stay at home or in the office.

I call it the ‘Netflixification of Events’ (should come up with something shorter and not trademarked, but it works). People already make the choice. Is it worth it to pack up the whole family for a movie, paying a gazillion dollars for tickets and popcorn? Or maybe we should just wait for it to come out on Disney Plus? People are going to start behaving the same way with events. Is this event worth it to me to take 4 days out of the office to fly 6 hours and live out of a hotel for 3 days? Or will I just watch it online? Are you going to leave these people behind? Much like the blockbuster movies make you go, “Oh, man I wish I was seeing this in the theater!”, so must our blockbuster online and hybrid events drive interest in our in-person events!

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Miguel Neves – Online/Virtual Events Producer and Chief Social Strategist

I believe we are currently just scratching the surface of what is possible with virtual events. In 2020 they were forced upon us and we went from having an eager appetite for content in the spring to the loathing of almost all virtual event by fall, in particular those falling under the category of webinars.

In 2021, we are sure to have more advanced tools at our disposal and AV partners with increasingly better solutions. All this is good news, but where we can make the biggest stride forward is in developing new concepts for virtual events. This is crucial for virtual events to thrive because attendees are rarely excited by one-hour-long webinars that feature bullet point filled presentations and have only the dying minutes allocated to questions and answers.

Virtual events can take so many diverse formats with different durations, different ways to deliver or discuss content and different participation styles. I firmly believe that we will see the emergence of different concepts and we will draw a line between another “webinar” and virtual events that we can get excited about. What they will be called is for us to define, but that is what I am going to invest my time in 2021.

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Tahira Endean – Head of Events – SITE Global, Writer, Speaker, Connector, Collaborator

Virtual events need to be people-centric, purpose-driven. This is the basis for Intentional Event Design and it has never been more important that now. It is about designing for the experience vs. designing for the platform. Using the basic principles of human engagement and how memorable experiences are created through our various senses – we can learn, connect, reflect, apply learnings, and build relationships through dialogue, discord and laughter. And this often leads to creative ideas and innovations.

If we deliver virtual events like a weak, one-way broadcast to an audience already suffering from digital fatigue in a time when billions of hours of content are being developed, we are failing our participants.

Think about it from the perspective of the guest who is inviting you into their space every time they choose to watch your content. Or even better, interact with our content and others who are sharing this same experience. Deliver interesting content using the best practices of storytelling. Ask them to engage with the content and each other. Challenge their assumptions and invite their opinions – and provide stimulus they cannot get elsewhere, in digestible bites. And have some fun along the way too!

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Paul Cook – Hybrid & Virtual Events Specialist, Content Writer & Speaker

What can we do better when it comes to virtual events in 2021? It’s a great question and there are a number of different responses that come to mind. But for me the key is that we treat virtual events with respect – and this applies on many levels. They help organisations conduct business, they encourage more inclusivity of attendees and they help reduce the carbon pollution from events. These are just three thoughts that spring to my mind.

Do we need to respect an event format? Yes, because only then will we take them seriously enough to unleash the creative thinking of event professionals that will enable virtual events to fully evolve. If we don’t respect them, they will always be second class and a poor substitute. What a waste that would be. In 2021, as we come out of the eye of the Covid-19 storm we need every asset in our tool box to help our clients. And virtual events are very much a part of that.

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Abi Cannons – Global Innovation Success Manager, Reed Exhibitions Ltd

Virtual events in 2020 have given us a lot to think about and there has been much to learn along the way. One of the biggest lessons has been to effectively review the learnings after each event and sharing knowledge internally across brands and teams.

After an initial rush to move at speed, slowing down the planning process is leading to more bravery, skill and therefore more creative ideas. This in turn has led to more excitement about the possibilities that come from virtual events, but it would be a waste if all the experiences and wisdom just walked out the door because it wasn’t passed along.

That’s why we have a focus on recording everything and sharing it widely – we all want to learn and want to do the best for all our customers. Our lesson is to never stop learning when it comes to virtual events. Somebody somewhere is always looking at a new way of doing things and the tech keeps developing to support that. You cannot sit still. You need to keep learning from the lessons that virtual events provide. Sharing is not only caring but can truly help us evolve.

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James Morgan – Principal Lecturer in Events, University of Westminster

When it comes to the future of virtual events, my opinion is that we need to adopt a much more ‘virtual experiencescape’ approach. In other words, it is not just about viewing a screen with talking heads with an attractive backdrop, but rather it is about designing a multifunctional experience that offers interactivity to attendees. By adding physical elements that can be posted out to attendees prior to the event, we can also activate more than two or three senses.

The virtual event experience is not just about the experience of the user on the day of the event or just about the tech platform either. Yet, these seem to be the predominant drivers for organisations putting virtual events on. I think we need to be looking at the whole experience journey – basically pre-event, during the event and post-event. And we have to look at an interconnected experience and really ask whether it is good enough.

We should also explore potential negative experience impacts and design these out. There are many friction points in a number of virtual events right now. We need to really look at them and ask if the friction of registration and required data, the friction of interacting on the event day as well as friction in post experience is at a minimum, to help ensure we get more people attending and engaging.

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Conclusion – The Road Ahead

Everyone has a view on virtual events. Some people like them and some people don’t. But, what’s clear and highlighted by our ‘experts’ is that virtual events offer massive opportunities to organisations that want to make the most of this form of event delivery.

As our experts pointed out, we are really just touching the surface of what is possible. That in itself is both scary and exciting.

Virtual events are here to stay. And with the shock waves of Covid-19 still resounding and a bumpy global economy ahead, the event planners that do well will be those that help their clients stand out. And virtual events certainly help in that. Having them as a permanent fixture of the future events landscape can only be a good thing.

Running virtual events?  Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors.  Book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!

7 Key Skills for Running Successful Virtual Events

7 Key Skills for Running Successful Virtual Events

Managing virtual events requires a different set of skills from event planners – from filming and broadcasting to writing scripts and dealing with new tech. But according to a new poll from Eventsforce this month, 53% of event planners do not feel they have the necessary skills nor experience in running successful online events. This could be very worrying, especially as these events are going to be around for a while.

Is delivering successful virtual events just about having good broadcast production skills?  Is it more about IT or audience psychology? And is it as overwhelming as many seem to think?

The good news is that many of the skills needed by event planners have already been gained by delivering live events. So these can be easily transferred across to help deliver a virtual production. However, there are a number of other key traits and skills that would also help in running successful virtual events.  Let’s take a look.

NEW WEBINAR: Choosing Virtual Event Platforms – How to Get it Right!

1) TV Production Mindset  

Event planners need to transition their thinking. No longer are they effectively stage-managing live events, they are now producing a virtual one. The planner has become a producer, making a programme – not running an event.

This approach highlights some key differences that need to be addressed. For example, at a live event, delegates may not worry too much if the schedule slips and runs late. After all, there are other delegates they can talk to. However, that is not the case with virtual productions. When things don’t run on time, you risk the chance of delegates leaving.

The mindset trait for successful virtual events is that the planner has to be production focused. Watching a news programme or an online talk show enables you to see the techniques used to keep viewers. You can adopt some of their tricks and tips and replicate for your virtual event.

Read: 9 most common mistakes when running virtual events

2) Listening and Data Analysis Skills      

Listening and analysing data skills have long been needed for live events, so using these for a virtual production should not present experienced planner with any issues. You always need to be looking at the analytics, listening to what your audience want and improving the ROI of your event.

In your fact finding: establish how long attendees are prepared to stay online, find out how they like content to be delivered and ascertain any nuances such as whether they really want to do group networking. There are numerous clues in how to produce a great virtual event when you take the time and trouble to understand what your audience and the data is telling you.

3) Visualising Skills

Visualising what an event will look like is a skill that event planners already have. And it’s this skill which then needs to be used for your virtual production. You will be a long way ahead of your competition just by understanding that not all content is capable of being delivered virtually. Some activities just do not work.

Let’s say you are going to produce a virtual conference and one of your speakers wants to deliver group team building. Your job as the virtual event producer is to decide whether the idea is practical or not and whether it will enhance the delegate experience. Only recently, a speaker was arguing with technology companies about the fact that they hadn’t come up with a solution he needed for his group exercise. Whilst his exercise works well in a physical format, it wasn’t going to work in the virtual world.

Being able to visualise how activities could work virtually is super important. If they are not going to work, then alternatives need to be found.

4) Design Skills     

Design is another key skill needed for your virtual production to be a success. You need to consider session length, maximising audience engagement tools and most importantly how your audience will benefit.  All of these skills are already known to event planners. However, the challenge that trips up a lot of people is the speed with which time evaporates with virtual events.

NEW EBOOK: Virtual Events – How to Keep Your Attendees Engaged!

Once you have decided on the main elements of content, you need to drill into each specific session and design appropriately. For example, you have a 30-minute slot for a session. The session needs to include: an introduction from your host, time for the speaker to deliver their presentation, time for questions and polling and time for the host to close. Suddenly that 30-minute slot looks quite tight. This is when you need to decide whether to expand the time or re-design the session.

You need to design virtual events from the ground up. They are not something you can instantly throw together.

5) Attention to Detail      

Whilst event planners are pretty good at dealing with detail, this skill becomes accentuated to a whole new level when producing virtual events. There is a lot more testing to be done.

With virtual events you can never do too much testing. The user experience has to be checked on different devices, different web browsers and of course the right versions of any apps have to be interrogated. Web links and audience interaction software must also be thoroughly checked out. If you are not 100% comfortable with how the polling works, don’t expect your delegates to figure it out.

Whilst attention to detail is not the most glamorous element in the life of a virtual producer, it is absolutely essential. One of the easiest ways to work out whether you are providing a great experience for your delegates is to sit in their seat. Try it out before going live and make improvements. Your event will be a whole lot better for taking time and getting the detail right.

6) Speaker Management     

Directing speakers is a new skill for some, but a vital one for virtual productions. Usually at live events, a planner may allow speakers to do their thing, without much involvement. After all the speaker is the expert and that’s what the planner wants. The planner will have briefed the speaker and that’s the end of it. However, sometimes things can go wrong. For example, speakers run over time, ignore the audience or spend too long talking about themselves. For a virtual production, you cannot afford for any of those things to happen.

You need to direct your speakers. You need to produce thorough speaker briefing notes. You need your presenters to do rehearsals with you. There is a lot more to go through: checking their presentation capabilities, how they look on camera, if the sound quality is good and where they are positioned are just a few of the things that planners need to direct speakers on.

7) Responsiveness and Proactivity

Having a ‘Plan B’ is useful for any event but even more so for a virtual production. What will you do if one of the speakers can’t be seen or heard? What if they cannot turn up because they have a personal tragedy to deal with? You need a solution and you need it quickly. One of the answers is to have them send in their pre-recorded presentation in advance. If you engage the services of a ‘virtual host’ you can solve other issues as they crop up.

Getting ahead of potential issues is well advised. However, not everything can be predicted. At a live event you may have more time to consider and deal with issues. But, for a virtual production you have to be able to problem solve much quicker and in the moment. You need to be making decisive decisions or else your viewers will log off.  Don’t forget that TV production mind-set we talked about at the start.

Next Steps – Where to Find Skills and Resources  

Some of the skills and traits highlighted may feel overwhelming. Or you may already have them in abundance. But, whatever your situation, it’s a good idea to be honest about what you and your team members are good at.

There are many options for developing skills through learning programmes and courses developed by associations, film schools and other providers. Many of these are available on-line which means you can learn in your own time.

If you need to call in external expertise, then do so. It will be an invaluable investment especially if you are short on people and time. And at the same time, you can be taking courses to develop your own virtual credentials.

Whether your organisation should acquire the skills or outsource will be determined by many factors. But it’s worth bearing in mind that the answer to this depends on the overall production values needed for your event. If your stakeholders or clients are happy with a home-grown approach, you may be able to do without the need for extra help.


Running a virtual event requires a very particular set of skills. Many event planners will have some of these skills and some will need to be acquired. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 a lot of organisations have been willing to accept less than perfect virtual experiences, but as time goes on that will change and they will expect better and more polished virtual events that demonstrate a strong ROI.

Need help with your virtual events?   Eventsforce can help you deliver all your event content online and engage with remote audiences much in the same way you would for your in-person events. Click here for more information or get in touch for a chat.