I get asked all the time how we “got here”.
While “here” is kind of relative, and always changing, I do my best to share the story.
EXP Events was an offshoot of another production company (Benchmark Production) with a focus on our larger stages and multi-day events. It was a different talent pool that we pulled our team from. These events generally had us helping a client deliver a message with extremely high-impact to the audience, which requires you to be a student of human behavior. You must know what captures and holds the attention of an audience and how to pace things. You’ve got to build something that is entertaining, creating an experience... a SHOW! There was a lot of “WOW!” that came with these shows.
If you haven’t been around it before, the world of Live Events is fascinating. It’s a place where imagination and creativity get brought to life by some amazing builders. You could literally have a dream tonight, tomorrow have a design team create a digital rendering of it, the next day have a quote for the build, and a week or two later be standing in the real life version of that dream. Super awesome!
That’s what EXP Events focuses on.
As I write this, we are about eight months into the first wave of COVID here in Seattle. I don’t know how long we will be in this stage, but I do know what has come from it.
When the world of big stages, concerts, and live events came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic, we were faced with the same issue every production company in the world had: What do we do now? With the ability to gather taken away, we were shook to the core. Not just from the loss of work like you would expect, but there was something much deeper that we just couldn’t get past.
During this time, now more than ever, people still need to be able create spaces to gather their people and deliver their messages. Now more than ever, corporations need to keep their people united and motivated. Non-profit organizations need to continue bringing in funding and support for their causes. Educators still need to reach their students and families. These things STILL need to happen.
During this time we had an awakening.
This was the moment we realized that although we knew how to build epic stages and create some killer events, that wasn’t really the core of what we do.
The stages and ballrooms were just locations for us to work from. Our clients have always been the voice, while we have always been the microphone. A real change in our mindset has happened.
When Shakespeare said “All the world's a stage,” he probably didn't realize he created the ultimate quote for virtual events. Virtual events allow you to connect with your audience in ways that haven't been done or fully explored yet. This presents a whole world of exciting opportunity, however, some things are different in this new space.
In a live event we can fully immerse the crowd. We have control of what they are seeing, hearing and feeling. In a virtual experience this all changes. Achieving immersion becomes a huge hurdle. It’s very difficult to know that your audience is totally consumed by the presentation or message. So difficult, in fact, that asking them to be fully engaged in their 15 inch laptop screen isn’t fair to anyone involved.
To overcome this hurdle we have found the best approach is repetition and a concentrated version of the message. The Strategy has emerged more critical than ever, as we begin to consider how to make real impact with our audience. When it comes to trying to get your point across in the virtual world… Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often.
As we crawl back to some version of normalcy in the future, things will be different. While humans will naturally want to gather again, there is now an opportunity to share messages that transcend geographical boundaries. Those that couldn’t make it to the event no longer need to feel that they are missing out or disconnected. We will even be able to create ways for them to participate and interact.
The production quality of Live Events will also have to step up to meet the demand of an attention deficit audience. Moving forward, creatives will have a much larger role to play in the strategy behind it all. People will come to expect higher-quality content that is concise and streamlined. Plus, we’re going to have to make the live experience significantly more awesome and engaging, otherwise why wouldn’t everyone just stay home and watch from their couch? Audiences of the future are going to need a reason to attend the live event.
On top of that, Strategy will become a new benchmark for the success of every event. Events will be more than just one-off gatherings. They’ll be viewed as one pillar in a cohesive experience.
Our shop will be forever changed by what we are learning, experiencing and overcoming today. I sense a renaissance on the horizon of the experience industry, and it’s going to be awesome.
Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often.
I love this stuff.