Eventbrite recently ran research that revealed 78% of millennials would rather spend money on live experiences than material things. And with millennials becoming the most populous part of society, and obviously of audiences too, this represents an optimistic outlook for event planners.
But it’s not that easy. Audiences are getting more and more demanding.
For this reason, event planners are in constant search of new ideas that will awe clients and create powerful experiences for delegates.
With this in mind, I’ve scoured the internet to find the event concepts that have succeeded in orchestrating meaningful experiences. I’ll stop rambling here. You’ve come for inspiration, not theorizing. Enjoy.
Radically Inclusive Events
No other event revolutionized active participation as much as Burning Man did. The radical inclusion of participants is deeply embedded in its DNA; there are no passive observers, only active participants. Festival goers co-create their experience by participating in constructing gigantic art statues and engaging in live acts.
It’s exciting to see the events industry building some of these principles into its design. One of the examples is the FRESH conference dedicated to meeting designers. It’s a lab, an incubator where participants can take a dive into new formats, co-create art, test the latest technology and co-design sessions in real time.
Devised in Tokyo in 2003 by local creatives, PechaKucha is a simple presentation format where speakers show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and speakers talk along to the images.
- PechaKucha events involve a series of short five-minute stand-up talks, usually 8-15 sessions in total.
- It’s an opportunity to see “elevator pitches” by the creatives, students, researchers or start-ups who want to spread their new innovative ideas.
- The event concept is quite egalitarian and can be preceded by an open call for presentations.
- Audiences can get exposed to a large number of inspiring ideas in a very short time.
- PechaKucha nights are now held in over 700 cities around the world.
These two events work on a very similar basis: Ignite Talks, Lightning Talks
The tech scene doesn’t bring innovation only in its own field; project-orientated software engineers like to get things done, and they inject this mantra into their events too.
Startup Weekends are 54-hour long events where developers, designers, marketers and product managers come together to share ideas, form teams, build prototypes and ultimately launch startups.
During this weekend-long event, attendees have a chance to learn through the act of creation; they come up with a strategy, build a prototype and test it on the go.
Startup Weekends attract the local tech and entrepreneurial companies. By working in teams, attendees can start building strong relationships with potential co-workers or investors.
These coding, brainstorming, editing marathons bring together people from the same field or internal teams to work collaboratively on a specific project.
They last from one day to a whole week.
They have a tangible goal that they strive to achieve, such as to develop a usable software, brainstorm a list of innovative ideas, or edit a specific topic or type of content.
Hackathons are gradually penetrating the events industry too. The FRESH conference in Barcelona concluded with the first hackathon on the sea where participants brainstormed how to implement innovative, creative and artistic solutions to pharma meetings on a boat.
A Knowledge Café or World Café is a type of business meeting or organizational workshop that taps into the collective knowledge of participants and helps them share ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the subject and issues involved.
One of the pioneers, David Gurteen, explains how it works:
Knowledge Cafe usually kicks off with a facilitator spending 10-15 minutes outlining the subject or theme of the Café and then poses a single open-ended question.
The group then breaks up into small groups of about five each and discusses the questions for about 45 minutes. Then everyone comes back together for the final 45 minutes where each group shares its thoughts.
Optionally in the small group sessions, people change tables every 15 minutes to increase the number of people they get to interact with and thus gain knowledge of the differing perspectives of groups.
This is not an event in itself, but rather a super-engaging meeting concept that deserves to be listed here nonetheless. Fishbowl conversations are usually used in participatory events like Unconferences and Open Space Technology (see point 5)
A fishbowl panel discussion is derived from a popular open fishbowl conversation format. In a fishbowl panel, two-three chairs are filled with guest panelists and one chair is left empty for audience members. The moderator introduces the topic, and the panelists start discussing it.
Any member of the audience can, at any time, occupy the empty chair and join the fishbowl panel. When this happens, an existing member of the fishbowl must voluntarily leave the fishbowl and free a chair.
The discussion continues with participants frequently entering and leaving the fishbowl panel until the time is up. Then the moderator summarizes the discussion.
Find other 5 event concepts here!
Marketing Manager at sli.do/ Writing sli.do blog / Speaker and Event Enthusiast/ Passionate about copywritting, photography and philosophy Follow him on Twitter @Juraj_Holub