Event management is for scaleable human interactions.  But let’s start with simple human connections.  I remember complete strangers on planes talking to me about the book I was reading at the time – Harry Potter releases were hard to get and sure conversation starters. Nowadays on flights people – including me –  are glued to their devices and will not engage with a stranger. Hard to tell what content they are consuming too! 50 Shades of Grey was published directly on Kindle and became a bestseller, helped no doubt by the anonymity of the dark screen.

Nostalgic Memories

I grew up in the dark ages when you had to wait for the radio to play your favourite song. When entire hostels gathered round to watch the one watchable program on prime time television. Or all your colleagues went as a group to watch a movie with black market tickets. And we ate what was on offer in the cafeteria and had the luxury of choosing between milky sweet coffee or milky sweet tea. Going to IIM Calcutta meant 36 hours on a train with strangers and friends and eating whatever showed up at the stations or what these strangers offered.

The Digital Cage

In the digital age we live in a preference bubble. It is very rare that you have to hobnob with strangers, listen to content you don’t like or even eat someone else’s choice of food. We choose to live this way as it smooths out the little inconveniences and uncertainties. It’s safe, predictable and nice.

Embracing Randomness in Event Management

We also miss out on the joys of randomness. Of a break from the blandness of predictability. How will we meet a person who sparks a change in our preferences? How do we find people not like us? Oh not the criminally-inclined but interesting in an edgy way.

Personalisation is important and of course brands have to scale – yet deliver an individual sparkle to each consumer.

Virtual Connections & Inclusive Perspectives

In the past week I’ve had this experience in two settings. In the first one you co-work online with strangers in a virtual conference room. The idea being that stating your goals to a few people makes you feel more accountable. Strangely it works, at least for a bit. What was more interesting for me is that I can chat with my temporary co-workers and look up their LinkedIn profiles. Sort of like a short bus ride with interesting people.

On the second occasion, I moderated a panel discussion for Virtusa’s International Women’s Day celebration at the Park Royal in Singapore. (Disclosure:  My company, Paul Writer, did the event management). It was with a group of amazing people and I got so many new perspectives on the topic of inclusivity. I got to meet people I’ve been connected to on LinkedIn and email and found much in common. The audience was engaged and enjoyed meeting their peers. When people come together and connect there is a positive energy in the room, and you leave strengthened.

The Power of Human Connections

This is why we go to gatherings of any sort – conferences, concerts, community get togethers, parties. The more they bring together a diverse group of people the more likely that you’ll catch a spark.

AI is awesome. I’m a believer! And it is going to get better and better. What it cannot do is create a human connection. Help you get that surprise, a-ha element of true serendipity. For that you, dear human, need to go out and experience the world. And that favourite tool from the pre-digital marketing tool kit – events – is one way to do that!

Me, I love events. Always have. Lots of improvements in event management in the area of experience design are possible but I do believe they are an art form. And way more tricky than ads because there are so many variables you can’t control. Yet, when it comes together you can feel the electricity in the room. Nothing beats that!

Also read: Is Humaning the New Marketing Trend? 

Be a human!

So go on. Beat the meh. Be a human. Shake some hands!

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