It is obvious that things are feeling out of our control recently, which can often leave us feeling fearful in the face of immense change. Because of the social changes we must make in our lives due to COVID-19, the events industry in particular must pivot in a unique and unprecedented way. 

However, there is one thing we do have control over: how we choose to frame the discussion around issues relating to the Coronavirus. The manner in which we discuss (and therefore comprehend) these current events can also lend a hand in shaping how it is impacting our industry. 

Here are some suggestions for re-framing common thoughts and discussion points relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the events industry—because words matter, especially in uncertain times.

Instead of: “The impact of virtual events will never match the impact of real-life presentations” 

Try: “Virtual events are an invaluable tool which can reach audiences in a uniquely impactful  way.”

Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, online presentations actually provide a unique opportunity to connect with a speaker on a very personal level. For example, in a Zoom presentation, audience members can interact with one another and post questions in the chatroom feature. Online events typically lend themselves to being great for Q&A formats. Questions can be asked and reviewed by a moderator in real-time, then presented to the speaker for their candid comments directly to the attendee who asked.

Plus, there are also some clear financial and logistical benefits to hosting virtual events. For one, speakers are generally quite willing to adapt their fee structures for events that take place online, making virtual presentations an extremely cost-effective option to boost morale, inform, and entertain attendees during social distancing. Is there a speaker you’ve had your eye on for a while but can’t accommodate the large fee? Now is the time to reach out to see what can be accommodated.  There will also be no need to pay for speaker travel buyouts which typically range from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on location and speaker requirements. In addition to being cost-effective, virtual events are also time-effective, requiring less effort and manpower to organize, set up, and clean up. Finally, receiving feedback on a speaker in the form of event surveys is also easier and instantaneous, as participants are already online and submitting virtual surveys is simple.  

Instead of: “I miss meeting new people and the opportunity to network and form new connections at in-person events”

Try: “Isn’t it amazing that because of technology we can still enjoy human connection, even when we are apart for a short while?”

We are so lucky that through technology we can adapt to meet the needs of our industry and our human need to connect with one another. Our work is deeply rooted in person-to-person communication, which now more than ever is incredibly important. Even though this communication may look and feel different, we still are able to connect with one another and enjoy the and develop the bonds that make us human. 

And… Something great has come from all of this: ONLINE HAPPY HOURS. In lieu of events which have been cancelled or postponed, create an online video chat space for your attendees to connect with those they would have met at your gathering. Drinks are cheaper too. 

Just think of how amazing that first in-person event will feel when we are all together once again– because without a doubt, the live event experience will come back stronger than ever as a result of peoples’ intrinsic need to connect with others.

This will be all of us when this is over:  

Instead of: “Our industry will never be the same—and that is worrisome.”

Try: “Our industry will never be the same—and that give us the creative freedom to define our future; we can use this to grow and innovate.”

The skills we acquire through this situation, like finding ways to engage online audiences and staying agile no matter what, are invaluable to professional development. The greatest reward to reap once we emerge from this fog will be our ability to move forward into the world, stronger together as an industry and as people.  

Because it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to realize the value our thoughts and words hold on our perceptions.

We will get through this together.