For our new Q&A series, Ask the Experts, we asked our event planner clients to share their priorities, areas of interest and biggest questions. To find the answers, we're talking to the top minds in the industry, including bloggers, planners, editors, marketers, consultants and event industry influencers.
Will Curran is Chief Event Einstein at Endless Events, an AV company unlike any other. Will has an immense passion for humanizing the AV industry, making it less confusing and removing the stigma of it being unhelpful and expensive. He's tireless in his efforts in the industry, and runs a weekly video podcast EventIcons, where industry experts sit down with event professionals to answer questions. Seemingly everyone in the event industry knows and respects Will, and many have been on his show! We caught up with Will to get answers to some of our client's common questions.
How can planners have more “wow” moments at their next event?
For me, what makes it a “wow” moment is when nobody can tell that an event has been planned so well. So for example, in a really smooth event, you're wondering, "why isn't anything going wrong?" That to me is a “wow” moment. While really subtle and really simple, you've done a really good job of planning your event and putting together all of the logistics, from load-in plans to rigging.
From the A/V side, bringing a client's vision to life when they don't have the budget for it is always exciting. If you take a look at some of the case studies on our site, under the Our Work page, there's a lot of times our clients say, "we didn't have the budget, but they figured out a way to make something cool and unique." That's always exciting and "wow-ing."
Have you seen any extraordinary arrival experiences or conference check-in formats that are innovative but also efficient?
At C2 Montreal they actually had check-in at the airport terminal. When I landed, I walked to a desk and they gave me my badge and everything I needed from there. That was really cool. There was zero line...it made my life much easier.
Have you seen any dynamic speakers recently you would recommend?
I'll twist this question into what I think planners need to think about when they're planning their speakers. They need to just ax the idea of bringing speakers who use PowerPoints. I'm so over the speakers who say, "I'll tell a story through these PowerPoints." We need to start booking speakers who don't have a PowerPoint, but instead have an engaging story to tell. A speaker can have great video content, or even a PowerPoint running in the background. I'm just sick of all the clicking through slides!
What one piece of advice would you give event professionals?
Event professionals need to know that A/V and event production doesn't have to be stressful and doesn't have to be hard. There are partners out there that you'll love to work with. Life is too short to spend it with people that you don't want to work with. We need to focus on building quality relationships with vendors that we love to work with every single day.
We need to push clients outside their comfort zones on things like budgets, to spend money on things that make the attendee experience better, and make things better for the planner as well.
Have you seen any new meeting formats that help planners avoid conference fatigue and encourage interaction?
Try not to make the keynote the center of your event, and not make breakouts the center either. Make the interaction and the places where people can meet the center of the event, physically, but also in terms of the agenda as well. Don't make it this thing where people feel bad if they don't go to the keynote or the breakout. If everything is recorded, and everyone has access to the recordings afterward, there's opportunities for encore sessions. That encourages interaction, because it encourages people to go to longer lunch meetings, to bump into each other in the hallway and not feel bad about missing a session. Also, being open to making events shorter and more intense. That avoids a lot of conference fatigue.
Have you seen any useful ways planners have been sharing and discovering best practices or tips?
Finding a community on a platform you love is important. If you don’t like Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups, don't use them. If you prefer email, set up a listserv. That's where I've seen a ton of engagement.
Also, there are publications out there, like our blog at Endless Events, or our weekly Event Tech Podcast. We also launched a weekly A/V live audit, where we take client's budgets and quotes and we break it down live on the air so everyone can learn from it. (Tip: the next audit is taking place on April 16th at 1 EST, check it out here.)
What are the best industry events for meeting planners to attend?
Go West, in Edmonton Canada. I spoke there this past year, and it's a seriously well-run event, as a speaker, as an attendee and as an event professional. I highly recommend it. Also, don't just go to industry events. Go to Coachella. Go to TechCrunch Disrupt. Go to CES. Go to the shows that aren't just in your comfort zone and aren't directly tied to the events industry. That will help you pull different ideas in and think differently about your events.
Thanks to Will for taking the time to share his unique perspective from the A/V side of things. We’re also grateful for Endless Events, which produces a lot of content and spreads all kinds of great knowledge for the event community, in addition to being a nationwide A/V company.
Founder of Endless Events & host of the events industry podcast, #EventIcons, Will is an expert in making event AV less complex and reducing stress in the event planning process. Now producing events across the country for clients like Emerald City Comicon, Anheuser-Busch, Color Run, Morton Salt & Uber. Will will fit more knowledge bombs in an hour presentation than most will have in a 3 day seminar.
For more in the Ask the Experts series, check out our interview with Trade Show Expert Rachel Wimberly! Coming next in the Ask the Experts series: We talk to Dave Lutz, founder of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. Subscribe to the MeetingPlay blog and stay tuned to the blog for more event planning tips and insights.