Feelings are facts

This was posted as part of IMEX PlanetIMEX eduMonday series of presentations and interactive sessions, ahead of this year’s much anticipated re-invented- event under the title “What is the new normal in extreme times?”

Curiously, the event delivered more along the lines of this manifesto than I first appreciated, and I applaud them for that. Extreme times demand extreme action and IMEX created dangerously, with bravery and delivered an accessible, sustainable, and likeable first day.

Not everything was perfect, and we are all critics now, but that is ok if you are creative and push the experience to the extreme. We all fall in love with imperfection anyhow – it’s a human thing.
My session was risky, lumpy, and far from perfect. But in the spirit of PlanetIMEX I wanted it to be truly live, spontaneous and let the audience in.

So, what is the new normal in extreme times? Thing is – we do not know yet. It has happened too quickly and right now is just a little too soon. We are somewhere between the known and the unknown. Take a time out, think deeply and speculate how we can carry on and apply a little bit of design thinking to the knowns.

Create dangerously. Lead and re-invent. Because extreme times demand extreme action – less compromise and more leadership require rigour and virtue.
There is risk. To re-imagine is to create dangerously. The name of an essay by writer and philosopher Albert Camus who said, “to create today is to create dangerously… an act that exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing”. He is saying everyone is a critic so to make progress be brave and get on with it. True then and even more so today.

Create bravely. We need a hero, a whole industry of heroes. Accept that a lot of the current mainstream event design practices have reached their sell by date and stock up with new ideas to apply to a new social era of events. Be bold and act fast. The future may look like the events industry, feel familiar, with infrastructure that looks the same, but people will be different. The people of 2020 will exist in a new culture, a new normal.

After an extreme pause, the future will hit the fast-forward button with extreme force. Armed with three simple tests we can deliver “extreme accessibility, extreme sustainability and extreme likeability” to our future events.

Brave is about being bold, it involves risk and that OK – because you are heroes, you are worth it, and your audiences expect it. Extreme event design is the future. Extreme accessibility, sustainability and likeability will shape the new normal.

A strategy to increase audiences by delivering no-compromise extreme accessibility, the virtue of the future by delivering no-compromise extreme sustainability, and the audience wins from a culture of purpose to deliver extreme loyalty and likeability.

Live also means live-online. Extreme means taking your events live-online too – but then you already knew that. Create bravely now – pick the right strategic infrastructure, the right tone on your strategic culture and the “live-online” formats you choose now will live in your “live” plans for bigger and stronger future events.

Extreme accessibility delivers bigger audiences. This works on many levels. Inclusive, burdenless physical or digital attendance and access for all abilities will increase numbers for all the right reasons. Make it uber easy to join in.

Adapt and improve live accessibility by engaging with transport providers. This happens all ready, but refine the interaction, design exceptional ease of use for your delegates. 15% of the EU and 22% of the UK population carry some form of disability. Extend the improvement of live accessibility for all abilities to increase your available audience and burden-less inclusivity into your transport provision.

Guaranteeing accessibility means a digital iteration of your event live online. It means more work and a bigger audience. Think of the model as a 180-degree dial running from live to live-online to visualise your twinned event (Vok Dams referred to this as “eye-level” in an earlier session). Use the dial to visualise in planning and adjust as necessary at any time in the process. Dial up the online for an online first event, dial up the live for a live first meeting – or go full stereo and balance both for a live, live-online-twinned-event.

Extreme accessibility equals bigger audiences. That’s the point. Extreme sustainability means consuming less. We have answers for most of the questions and we have a responsibility to design for a depleted world and procure and provide trace-less-waste-less events. We must do the same with less – being realistic- a lot less.

If we are being extreme (and we are) we are going to need about 4.1 earths if everyone lives like Americans and 5.5 earths if we consume like the population of the UAE. We need to stop the squeeze on our solitary earths single set of depleted resources. Extreme sustainability is within reach if we employ learnings from the circular economy. Port the entire industry to a power neutral position. Clean power, solar and wind exclusive. Water neutral. Grey water system (all water is re-cycled/heated/filtered re-used) that doubles as heating. Extreme sustainability is re-creating event spaces as event gallery spaces. Screens, lighting, power, Wi-Fi, plug and play – like a hotel or gallery experience but with professional lighting and fixtures. Extreme sustainability is re-costing our event food miles. Event menus list food and food miles as standard with everything local or sourced within a 100-mile radius. Extreme sustainability is re-evaluating the delegate-exhibitor cost. Arrivals by car or plane will feature a levy based on carbon expenditure (clean clients pay less). Train over plane deals could make transport cheaper too. Online costs can develop their own sustainable value model and unique sponsor-partner platform. Every client, delegate, exhibitor gets an event infographic index report as they leave, energy consumed, F&B consumed and waste index option on carbon to be offset by their company. Extreme sustainability equals a sustainable business. That’s the point.

Extreme likeability delivers higher performing events. Your audiences are the power, re-distribute with the power of tech and unleash them to amplify your event. If they trust you and your event, they will stand by you through the good, bad and extreme times. Extreme likeability is the new value metric because it documents what your audiences feel about your event and their feelings are facts. Extreme likeability comes from your audience investing beyond content, to your values and virtues. Transparency and accessibility will deliver trust putting care first, designing for people’s rights and platforming their voice to express their community through your event. Extreme likeability creates followers of substance. The issues they and you as an event owner face are intertwined, complex, connected and increasingly extreme. Step forward never settle and re-invent – because extreme times demand extreme action.
Extreme likeability equals extreme longevity for your event. That’s the point.

Because feelings are facts…