Black History Month is celebrated around the world, at different points in the year, by a number of countries. As we look forward to Black History Month celebrations, let’s begin with two countries who have their observances throughout the month of February – the United States and Canada.
February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Many of us fail to ask ourselves, “When did this start?” In the U.S., many people believe it was in 1976 when then United States President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month. In Canada, a similar thought process exists but surrounding two different dates. In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month. The motion to do so was introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian elected to Parliament. In March 2008, the Senate completed Canada’s parliamentary position to February being celebrated as Black History Month by unanimous approval of a motion introduced by Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Canadian Senate. However, the origin of Black History Month is quite earlier than the official celebratory dates of Canada and the United States.
In 1926, a week to honor African American history, which has evolved into Black History Month, was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson, known as the ‘Father of Black History’, was the second African American (after W.E.B Du Bois) to receive a doctorate from Harvard. Dr. Woodson, a noted historian, author, and journalist was devoted to the preservation and celebration of African American history. Today, the evolution of Dr. Woodson’s foresight allows for the recognition of contributions from not only African Americans, but Black people throughout the history of the world.
As Black History Month begins, I challenge you to learn a new historical fact each week during February, concerning contributions by Blacks and African Americans. To get things started, search Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. You might not know it, but he probably makes your life a little easier every day!
In November of 2020, we surveyed 2,000 of our customers and asked various questions about hybrid events. When we asked them to give a general forecast of their 2021 events, our survey respondents shared that they plan to allocate nearly 80% of their total spend on virtual and hybrid solutions. To maximize your total spend, create a plan that prioritizes the experience of each participant type. In the design phase, you can measure each experience against your event objectives and make adjustments as you go. To help, here’s a framework for designing a hybrid event based on traditional planning strategies and methods, with updated considerations for hybrid.
Hybrid events allow people to choose their experience based on how they want to take in information and engage with one another. As a result, planning is more experience-driven and customer-led than ever before. This consumer-led strategy will set the future for events, innovating how we deliver and how we engage in these experiences.
The transitions within the events industry have designated hybrid events not just as of-the-moment alternatives to in-person events but instead as key pieces within an integrated portfolio of event offerings. While the shift to a virtual and hybrid focus feels abrupt, the planning of these experiences is still deeply rooted within the familiar elements of event design.
Hybrid events offer highly-scalable experiences with dynamic design possibilities, removing the barriers to allow for community growth and connection. With options for live, recorded, and on-demand content, global attendees, can join experiences that may have previously been limited. This geographic flexibility minimizes financial, time zone, and physical location blockers. The increased reach and personalization of these events lead to improved ROI and MTV (Money and Time Value.) The success of hybrid experiences directly correlates to the strategic framework behind designing an experience that speaks to all audiences, whether physically present or virtually engaged.
Strategic Framework of Hybrid Event Design
To create a strategy for your hybrid event, start by establishing experience goals based on each participant type and their unique journey. As with in-person events, it is critical to set benchmarks, objectives and define KPIs. Setting these KPIs and objectives positions you to create a content and engagement strategy that’s built to meet them.
Human-centered design principles provide the insights necessary to develop creative that inspires and engages, no matter where your audience is. The creative content is directly informed by these insights, equally personalizing experiences for virtual and in-person audiences. The personalization of engagement methods drives the collaboration between virtual, in-person, or dual attendees. How will the experiences intersect, and how can participants engage with one another? Selecting a platform that supports these levels of customization has proven to be a key driver in customer decision making. While Encore utilizes the Chime Live platform, we remain solution agnostic. Our ultimate goal is to provide creative, production, and technology solutions best suited to each event.
Platforms and Content for Hybrid
Event platforms should scale for audience size, the number of hosted events, and the live component’s eventual expansion into other forms of content and delivery. With the time and resources you spend to create your live event, your technology and produced content should serve current and future experience needs.
Creating content with intention allows it to serve its present purpose and audience while also having the longevity to be relevant beyond the principal event. Core content should be concise, engaging, and accessible, with a tiered strategy that clearly distinguishes and connects to all attendees. Delivering a quality hybrid event involves all the care and planning of live events, with some specific nuances to ensure a seamless and high impact experience for all. Rehearsal time should be utilized to acknowledge the particulars of live and virtual audience interactions, while branded content and custom graphics can help to achieve a professional and polished look. This high level of personalization will make for a transformative and impactful event experience for audiences near and far.
Everything and Nothing has Changed
With live, virtual, and hybrid events, the central tenets of event design still stand. It will always be critical to know the audience, set benchmarks, and determine which experience will best resonate with those objectives. While there are two experiences with hybrid, the core elements remain the same. Leverage the commonality but be mindful of the unique audience perspectives. Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, the event design’s strategic framework keeps attendee engagement front and center, actualizing the intended objectives through inspired creative and intentional content. Hybrid experiences are not a 1:1 comparison to in-person, but the design process and considerations are analogous.
Event framework, creative, engagement methods, content, and delivery quality remain the key elements when designing a successful hybrid experience that connects and captivates all audiences.