With the American Fed raising interest rates, making it harder for people to get loans or mortgages, and the European Central Bank raising interest rates for the first time in more than a decade, there is a sense of a downturn coming up. And when a crisis appears, companies start to control their expenses by cutting off unnecessary spending. One of the first places where cuts happen is in marketing—even though research suggests this is not a profitable practice. Events are somewhat similar to marketing in that companies might probably consider events’ spending as a part of marketing spending. But since event outcomes are hard to monitor, CFOs might cut off event spending first. If a company has events on its agenda, it’s seen as an additional and not as an essential thing. Even though I don’t agree with the mindset, I understand it—an event does not directly contribute to a business’ growth. A typical thought is that events are just for fun and not that important.
When event organizers and planners think about events, more often than not, the focus is on marketing, productivity and knowledge sharing. This is great, but do you know that after about 30 minutes, concentration starts to decrease? So, it isn’t useful to have ambitious event agendas that overstimulate attendees. Instead, it is better to keep in mind why exactly you are hosting the event (to share information, create a sense of camaraderie, open discussions on a new topic, etc.) and then deliver an agenda that drives that purpose home.
There’s a line floating around the internet about the human attention span becoming shorter, but the truth might be simpler. If a task (in the case of events that would be listening, absorbing, synthesizing) is demanding, it will be hard to do it at a stretch without a break. So, the obvious question arises— why create events where listening becomes a strenuous task? Why not create events that are engaging, authentic and from which people leave with positive experiences and learning?
The answer to this may be in that thought that I shared earlier, that events are often viewed as fun and maybe even a good distraction, but not as important. A status I saw a while back really drove this home. James Pickles shared that a CFO of a company had scrapped a talk that the team and James had been preparing for. The reason cited was the sales of that company had been low that month and they were stopping any non-essential spends. That sounds understandable, right? But is it though? If you think of events as opportunities to make genuine connections and share valuable information, it seems absolutely essential to have it as a part of a company’s vision and budget.
Boosting employee morale, facilitating cross-cultural conversations, sharing knowledge, using tech to create genuine and lively social exchanges— these are only a few reasons for focusing on events. It’s not just about fun. It’s about utilizing our resources of social connections, knowledge, and money to build something that maybe transient but has a lasting impact.