I don't know about you, but I cringe whenever I hear event managers talking about innovation. "How we could innovate the Q&A session?", "Let’s buy this event app; it will help us improve our interaction process", "Maybe we should innovate?"
Don't get me wrong - I strongly believe in the 'innovate or die' philosophy, yet it hurts to see how unsustainably and incoherently the word 'innovation' is applied in the event industry. Sometimes I get the feeling that planners 'innovate' only for the sake of innovation. And by 'innovate', I mean using fancy event apps, facilitating pointless games to encourage networking at events, or using 'TED'-style talks to entertain the attendees.
If you truly want to innovate and improve your events, you have to develop a more sustainable approach and take certain elements into account, such as smart use of resources, financial means, time framework, and anticipated results. In other words, before innovating, you need to know exactly what your goals are, how you can improve things using the tools you already have, and the estimated impact. If you don't take a sustainable approach to innovation, you run the risk of:
- Losing big amounts of money;
- Wasting your precious time and energy;
- Ignoring the potential of resources you already have.
So here are some ideas on how to innovate your event in a sustainable way.
1. Create an event planning protocol to help your team
As an event manager, your first responsibility is to improve the way your team works.
You can do so by designing an action framework document that will make the planning process easier and quicker. This document should include each planning step in detail and who is assigned to each task.
Although each event is unique and has its own particularities, the management process is mostly the same. An event planning protocol can help you delegate responsibilities and recognize successful action steps you can replicate when designing future events.
- Learn from the previous experiences and find sustainable solutions
If you want to innovate and improve your next event, take a look at your last event. Is there anything you would change? Did you notice some planning mistakes that you can avoid next time? Let's say, for example, that during your last event, attendees manifested zero interest for the Q&A session. This situation can be highly unpleasant and awkward (especially for the speaker), so it's important to find a way to motivate attendees to actively participate in the discussion. In the space between your last and next event, you have time to search for sustainable solutions that would address this problem.
2. Use the resources you already have by giving them a different meaning
As the American entertainment industry executive Tom Freston noted, "Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way." In other words, innovation can have zero costs if you know how to repurpose the means and tools you already have. Let's say, for example, that you use interactive live polls to engage the audience during presentations. You can apply that same technology to improve the learning process of the attendees by organizing knowledge quizzes. As you can see, the same tool can serve different purposes.
3. Focus on benchmarking and learning from others
A good way to sustainably innovate is to observe other planners. Attend different events and take a look, for example, at how organizers motivate their attendees to engage and interact more. Or go to conferences to see how other planners deal with the Q&A session issues. Take note of everything and analyze which good practices you can adapt and use for your events.
- The innovation of an event starts with the way you organize the teamwork.
- Innovate to solve an event challenge, not for the sake of innovation.
- Innovation doesn’t have to be loud and bold. If you want to be sustainable, make small, yet consistent steps to improve your future events.
- Review your previous mistakes and use sustainable innovation to avoid those errors while planning your next event.
- Search for inspiration from others to see how they find solutions and innovate.
- Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Have a smart approach towards innovation and use it to find good solutions to event challenges.
- Sustainable innovation can save you time, money, and resources. Apply it wisely.