Fueled by the Corona crisis, digital communication and virtual events have instantly become must-haves. Conveniently, many different software tools are available as quick solutions. However, it's a fallacy to believe that an analog event automatically "translates" to an equivalent virtual experience once you've chosen the right tool, explains Maximilian Souchay in the latest installment of his "Rethink" series of articles.
If you start with the origin of the word "tool", you quickly have a suitable comparison in mind: Imagine you want to build a built-in wardrobe for a friend. You get wood and screws, a saw and a cordless screwdriver. Basically, you have the right tools and basic materials at hand. Nevertheless, most people would probably not just start carpentering. Even the most beautiful built-in cupboard is useless if it does not fit into the intended position. Only with the right dimensions and requirements in mind, a concept can be designed. Only in the next step does the carpenter make a plan and select his tools.
Conceptlessly missing the target
What seems logical to us with a real piece of furniture is often forgotten in the whirl of turbo-digitization: According to the guiding principle "Form follows Function" or "Form follows Content", a design is known to work best when the form is derived from the purpose, the form from the content. When applied to virtual and hybrid event forms, I am of the opinion that software alone does not make an event; event tools are no more than a means to an end.
If you start your event planning with the software selection, you force yourself into a creative corset - one possible reason why hybrid events are currently regarded as a medium of still remain far below their potential. In the worst case, the event remains without personal connection and is quickly forgotten, just as my colleague Jonathan last week described. The desired emotional activation fails to materialize, the event has forfeited its greatest marketing advantage.
The story sets the tone
To maximize the impact, virtual experiences should also be tailored. Even on a digital level, an event first needs clear goals, strategies and a story - in short: a communication concept. And by all means a different one than its analog counterpart. If all tools are put at the service of communication, it is easier to create fluid transitions between different event media. From the participant's point of view, a continuous arc of tension is created with a consistently recognisable look and feel.
For an emotional activation of the participants, we start with the personal encounter. This encounter is dramatized and staged, because storytelling and customer journey are elementary parts of well thought-out concepts, whether analog, virtual or hybrid. The software becomes a communication channel, where the different requirements for software design and live communication are thought through together from start to finish. This allows us to create a seamless user experience in which all touchpoints are a harmonious part of the overall story.
And so the software follows the requirements of the communication concept, because in the end it is not the cordless screwdriver and the saw that build the cabinet - but the carpenter.
* Maximilian Souchay is Founder and Managing Partner at Live Lab. He studied marketing in Bern and cultural management and acting in Liverpool. Before founding Live Lab in 2015, he worked in various management positions in the event industry.