When I was a child, my mother had my “color matching” evaluated. This is the tedious process of putting color swatches next to your face to determine if you are fall, winter, spring or summer – or rather, if you look best in warm or cool colors. It was determined that I was a fall, as a warmer color palette tends to make my eyes pop more and looks best against my skin tone. When I wear these colors, I feel good about myself.

There’s no denying that the colors you surround yourself with in your day-to–day life can impact how you present yourself, act, and feel. As with the colors that we associate with different seasons, we can also relate them to our mood and how they affect us and those around us; warmer colors may feel welcoming, and bright, bold colors may elicit a sense of excitement and outgoing enthusiasm.

The same is true for an event space. The color used directly impacts the look, feel and the reactions of your attendees as they enter a space. There have been studies done that color also influences cognition and mood. Although the effect of your color choice may be subconscious to your participants, determining color enhancement should be based on what best suits your meeting’s goals.

Choose Your Colors with Purpose

Having your meeting’s message retained is key, and all five of our senses play a big part. However, with sight attributed for 83% for adult learning, color clearly can have a significant impact. Color assists an attendee to remember their environment, which can be very effective in a learning or educational setting.

It is a shift of thinking, since in many cases, companies choose company branding to be displayed during their meetings. Depending on those colors, it may have an adverse impact on their participants’ cognitive skills. You need to make sure color is chosen purposefully and relates to the message intended, rather than solely maintaining company branding.

Ready to Experiment? We Can Help

There are several colors in the rainbow, and with LED Lights, we can create most of them at moment’s notice. For your next meeting, try blue if you are having a brainstorming meeting and want to increase creative thinking. Or maybe, if you are just having a long day of meetings and want to make sure your attendees do not have the after lunch slow down, think yellow. Keeping the room bright will increase attention and optimism as the day comes to an end.

Curious to learn more? Check out my on-demand Professional EDge webinar session for an in-depth discussion on using psychology principles in the event space.

Pride Month celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place more than 50 years ago. On the first anniversary of Stonewall, a peaceful protest was organized that would become an annual event celebrating LGBTQ+ rights, before blossoming into the large-scale Pride events and parades we see globally today.

As with so many events this year, the global pandemic resulted in many postponed or cancelled Pride celebrations. Additionally, the tragic murder of George Floyd has refocused some efforts normally put forth for Pride into protests demanding change, such as the recent march in Los Angeles in support of Trans people of color.

Action creates change

The progress we have made since Stonewall would not have happened without action. The action you are seeing in the anti-racism protests across the globe today, will transform into lasting change, just as they did on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

I’ve witnessed a lot of that change, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, and I look forward to the day that equal rights on every level are simply considered human rights. I’m happy today to work for a company that understands this. PSAV supports four business resource groups (BRGs):

  • Black and African Americans of PSAV
  • Pride at PSAV
  • Veterans at PSAV
  • Women of PSAV

The BRGs serve as internal supportive communities, providing personal connections and affiliation for its member​s who identify with or support others similar to themselves, and providing opportunities for growth and conversations amongst the larger organization.

This was recently echoed by our CEO Mike McIlwain in a statement on Diversity and Inclusion that encouraged our team members to reach out to the BRG heads to ask how they can help and better educate their teams, peers, friends and family. I think asking questions and truly listening as someone tells you about their experiences is an action anyone can take to create lasting change.

As the executive sponsor of the Pride at PSAV BRG, I’m happy to share my coming out story to get the conversation started. When I was younger, I thought, okay, all I have to do is say this once in my life, right?  To my parents, closest friends?  Just once?  Not a chance.  I started with my parents, who were compassionate and supportive, but as it turns out, you must come out over and over and over again. New job? Coming out. New friends? Coming out. New brother-in-law? Coming out.

As I’ve gotten older, my view of those conversations has altered. No longer do I view them as “checking the boxes” conversations, or answers just to fill someone’s curiosity. I view them as a chance to educate, to inform, to help break down a stereotype they might have had about the LGBTQ+ community. Twenty years on, I find those conversations enriching.  I feel proud of the woman I am today, and I feel honored sharing my coming out stories with others who ask.

“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”– Harvey Milk

What I have come to learn, is that as a part of a diverse group in society, it is our responsibility to educate others, in other words, “be out.” If someone has a question about your race, gender identification, religion or sexual orientation, educate them. It might be what they need in that moment to change for the better. Don’t rely on others to do the work.

Get to know your neighbors, co-workers and customers. Talk to them, know their story, and in turn share yours. It will only make us better humans. Now my question to you is, whose story are you going to learn about today?

A Rise in Hybrid Meetings and Events

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges to the event industry. But, with crisis, often comes innovation. As automobile manufacturers have quickly changed their business model from building cars to building ventilators, the events industry is responding with different ways to use technology to connect organizations and people.

One of the impacts of the pandemic is that people everywhere have become more comfortable with virtual technology. Our children and teachers have adapted from classroom instruction to online learning. Our colleagues kept collaboration and teamwork alive using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and a host of other applications. While the Millennial generation has grown up with FaceTime and video chat, now even my 76-year-old mother has become proficient at setting up family Zoom meetings. These new realities are propelling the use of virtual technologies forward.

You may recall after 9/11 and the Great Recession when planners, venues and technology companies expected video conferencing to become a part of the new norm and invested significant capital in that direction. We learned quickly that the industry at large was not ready to make the move to this type of virtual approach. We underestimated the importance of human connection. The ability to read body language and meet face-to-face is important. The opportunity to socialize before and after meetings is crucial. Technology can never fully replace face-to-face communication, but it can become a tool to help us through challenging times, and the answer might just be a combination of in-person meetings connected by technology.

Things are different now than in the aftermath of 9/11 or the Great Recession. Great advances have been made over the past decade in technology, hardware, connection speeds and the use of the Cloud to enable virtual events. Most importantly, meeting and event participants are now more comfortable using technology to connect virtually. COVID-19 has prepared us for a technological pivot in the meeting industry.

Humans, whether Millennials or Baby Boomers, are social people.  We must meet, in-person and often to create true connections.

Hybrid meetings allow us to connect event participants while simultaneously providing piece of mind. In-person meetings will evolve to become more inclusive. While just a few months ago, a venue may have welcomed 500 people into a ballroom for a general session, the opportunity now exists to welcome 50 people into a more intimate setting in 10 rooms that can be spread out around the world. Connecting rooms or venues with virtual technology will allow this to happen. It will also allow options for participants who may be concerned about their health or have a pre-existing condition.

Additionally, as small, mid-sized and even large companies have become accustomed to employees working from home, our role in connecting people will be even more important. Square, Twitter and Nationwide are a sample of some of the organizations who plan to continue to offer remote working arrangements. This will present a new opportunity for venues to sell space so that team members of companies who have left the brick and mortar office behind can come together to meet. Working from home can be isolating and the need for team members to create face-to-face connections will increase.

This has created a tremendous opportunity for planners, venues, and technology companies to work together to meet these needs. It is our job to educate the industry about the possibilities of coupling in-person meetings with virtual technology to create hybrid events. Our role in connecting people is suddenly more important than ever. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that even though we can work virtually we crave social interaction. Our job is working together to make that happen for our clients.

Hint: It’s not about the platform

Over the last two months (though it certainly feels much longer), our industry has frantically been pivoting live events to virtual event formats. For many, this meant rapidly researching a vast array of streaming providers, web conference solutions, and virtual event platforms.

In the process, it’s also meant a lot of trial and error. How many of you quickly launched a web conference for hundreds of participants, only to realize that the platform alone doesn’t address everything you need to achieve your desired meeting outcomes?

In the rush to virtual, many of us have lost track of the most critical step in the process – event design! Here’s a reminder of two critical principles to consider when designing your virtual event.

1. A virtual event is not a direct translation of a live event

Zoom fatigue is real. If it’s not already a diagnosable condition, we’re probably not far off from seeing it in medical textbooks. With unlimited online and at-home distractions, it takes a different kind of focus to engage in virtual events. Coupled with the lack of visual or physical breaks attendees would typically have in a live setting, the ability to overcome these distractions can be overwhelming without the right balance of high-stimulation and lull time.

Second, it’s more challenging to establish emotional and attitudinal connections across cyber space. The networking that typically happens more serendipitously in a live environment must be designed with purpose in a digital environment.

2. You can warp time and space

We all struggle with attention spans in digital environments. But unlike the time or space restrictions you have in a live event setting, you can be more flexible with virtual events.

Engagement doesn’t need to happen at a specific time and can be stretched to meet the needs of your audience. Leverage the freedom of access and community building tools across time zones to meet participants where they are – delivering content when your attendees need it, and how they need it. Content such as on-demand video sessions or simu-live can open new opportunities for engagement with presenters and learning opportunities.

As the global event industry enters the recovery stage, there will be an ongoing need to engage remote audiences – either completely virtually or in a hybrid setting. Put the principles of event design first before considering the delivery platform and consider partnering with someone who can help guide you through the design process and create an experience that will be sure to meet your desired outcomes.

Our team has created virtual and hybrid solutions cultivated from years of experience. Connect with us to see how we can assist with your event design.

A Bit of Clarity in an Uncertain Time

Over the last few years, our production team has had the pleasure of working with our partners to listen to their needs and priorities and develop ways that we could make their lives easier. This collaboration cultivated a simple production process, leveraging our knowledge of their events to focus on ease of engagement. The outcome? More consistent results and event experiences across our network.

In recent months, the whole world has been turned upside down in an unprecedented way, and our events industry in particular is experiencing unprecedented disruption. Our meeting planner community has been forced into new realms out of their comfort zone with requirements to explore many different event solutions – producing hybrid, virtual, smaller live meetings – under a cloud of uncertainty with variables they have never experienced. Cancellations, postponement, rebooking, venue changes, uncertain registration numbers, etc. have all been unchartered challenges.

The main questions we are seeing on the production side revolve around converting live agendas to virtual, and how to vet these options with limited staff. With this in mind, we’ve doubled down on the ease of engagement factor so customers can tap into an integrated solution which can support any iteration of a live, blended or virtual event experience. Our current production group has drawn on their corporate event, theater, touring and broadcast experience to morph into a versatile team that can pivot with your needs and consult to create a variety of solutions.

We can provide one point of contact that understands your preferences, processes, documentation, communication style and do’s and don’ts. One core team to engage the key internal resources that deliver everything from show management to media to creative design all the way through your venue order.

The idea that we’ve kept central is that no matter what it becomes, it’s still an event that requires a great production team. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but ultimately all event concepts have more similarities than differences:

  • The Pre-Production process tracks toward similar milestones
  • Solid documentation and attention to detail required
  • Your presenters need to feel comfortable and confident to deliver their best message
  • The technical solution has to work
  • Media and content need to enhance the experience
  • Your message must be heard
  • The brand must shine
  • Analytics and ROI are critical
  • You must keep the audience engaged

The difference is a matter of how the content is delivered – not why you need to deliver it. It may very well be via a new medium that the audience isn’t unaccustomed to. Our group can assess pros and cons of each method and help deliver the best solution to reach your specific audience. We are structured so the customer has continuity of their core production team regardless of what the final solution may be in a month or year(s) down the road.

We’re in this battle together. The team is eager to help you navigate through this new normal in the event world, however the solutions may evolve. I hope we can be a resource to provide some clarity and help lead you through the fog.

Be safe. Be well.

Necessity is the mother of all invention, and our current environment has introduced more challenges into our personal and professional lives than anyone could have predicted.   

Be it as a planner, partner, or provider in the live events industry, how do we continue to provide value to our customers in a time when we cannot meet face to face? For PSAV, we’ve rallied together through tremendous cross-functional collaboration, commitment and leadership, finding creative ways to adapt and engage in this very fluid environment.  

Professional EDge: Industry Education 

The desire to remain connected has never been stronger, and despite stay-at-home orders, we knew we could share thought leadership content that would provide a lasting benefit to our community by pivoting to virtual. 

As a result, our team is excited to introduce Professional EDge – our permanent platform for industry education! We kicked it off with Global Virtual Events Day on April 2, where we welcomed more than 13,000 unique visitors from 5countries. Our family of companies brought a team of digital experts to share real-life applications and solutions to help professionals plan, produce, and promote virtual events from start to finish.  

On April 7, we continued our interactive sessions with the launch of an eight-week series of webinars running through the end of May. Featuring great content from industry experts, all of these sessions are approved by the Events Industry Council for attendees to earn continuing education hours. 

Launching Professional EDge has been a bright spot for us. It’s a platform we always wanted to create but found difficult to prioritize amidst normal business levels. The sense of accomplishment that comes from finding new ways to evolve and elevate is a benefit we can all derive from great teamwork and creativity in our current environment. 

Chime Live Virtual Events Platform 

In a poll we recently conducted, more than one-third of meeting planners responded that the most daunting aspect of hosting a virtual event was audience engagement. With this in mind, we’re excited to introduce Chime Live, a new platform we’re using to host Professional EDge. Chime Live offers both a live webinar feed and a rich suite of interactive tools such as Polling, Notepad, UpVoter, ForumAsk a Question, Feedback Forms and Networking. It also provides users an engaging forum that lives on after the event. We want to learn what matters most to you, so we can continue to develop fresh content that resonates and brings even more value to Professional EDge.   

See the Possibilities 

Whether it’s through 3-D renderings from our Encore locationsthe use of Vision Templates or virtual site visits, we have aligned resources to help you ‘see’ the possibilities in all our venues. We’re using Microsoft Teams to collaborate and can pull in solution experts as needed to talk through your organization’s objectives and discuss options to create engaging experiences for your attendees – be they inperson, virtual or hybrid. 

By leveraging technology, we have thopportunity to remain connected unlike any generation before us that has gone through dark times. The internet may be our conduit, but our connections are no less genuine or valuable. If anything, we are all learning new ways to create value and engage, which will make those inperson moments even more impactful in the future. 

As a company, PSAV remains steadfast on delivering incredible experiences that ‘connect and inspire’ people in all of our markets and countries throughout the world.

We want to reassure you that our first focus is, and will always be, the health and safety of our customers, venue partners, and team members. Our team is closely monitoring the situation at hand and is working with  industry organizations to stay abreast of the current guidelines.

For the latest updates and industry developments, we have developed a resource page to help guide you throughout health and safety protocols.

For those who wish to speak with us about virtual alternatives to in-person meetings, our team is happy to discuss your needs.

We look forward to serving you as a continued partner along your journey.

Happy International Women’s Day! With women making up nearly 77% of the meeting, convention, and event planning industry in the U.S.,* today is a great day for self-reflection. How did I get where I am? Where am I going? What will my future be? One of the subjects I hear the most about from women I speak about this journey we’re on is confidence:

  • Why are men so much more confident than me?
  • Where do I find the courage to speak up?
  • How do I get confidence in myself?

Confidence! How many of us wish we had more confidence in ourselves? The answer is that confidence is a skill like any other – you have to invest in yourself and learn it. And we also all need to recognize that this is something everyone has to learn, no matter your gender or your background. While it may seem that for some it comes totally naturally, the reality is that they learned it somewhere along the way and you can, too! The most important thing to grasp is that confidence breeds confidence.

What does it take to breed the strength to gird yourself with the armor of confidence?

It’s really just a few simple things:

  1. Be who you dream of being! Challenge your own assumptions of what you can do. Don’t get pulled into others view of what you can do – invest in your own position and where you can go. If I’d let myself be pulled into a narrow view of what women can do, I wouldn’t have done the things I’ve done in my life (which, along with being a business leader, includes taking care of house and home!). Whose assumptions are you carrying along with yourself?
  2. Be yourself! Don’t feel like you need to like sports (or ballet for that matter) if you don’t. If you don’t like golfing, go to the spa – you’ll find that a number of men like the spa better, too! Don’t feel like you need to dress a certain way to fit in – though never underestimate the value of that power outfit that feels like you take on the world!
  3. Speak up! Know what you’re talking about, of course, and never be afraid of letting your voice be heard. This piece is especially rampant in our industry, with women making up less than one-third of conference speakers (2018 Bizzabo Gender and Inclusion Report). You have valuable contributions to make – because only you have your world experiences – and no one else has seen the world through your eyes. Every time you speak up, you build your confidence to speak more – so start today.
  4. You are good enough! Job applicants have been studied – and women follow the rule of “I need to have all the skills in the job posting to apply” where men are more likely to apply if they’re “close enough” (Harvard Business Review, Tara Mohr, August 2014). Guess what – you’re close enough, too! If you don’t get the job, you’ve at least had the experience of speaking up for what you want to do, and honing your interview skills. Well done! More confidence for the next time!

So, there you go – four easy steps to confidence! I read one article that women who have confidence don’t have doubts (“hah!”), don’t have regrets (also “hah!”), and also never miss self-care (omigosh “hah!”). You will likely have doubts, regrets, and not schedule that doctors’ appointment for yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a confident woman, whom people pay attention to when you walk in the room. You are good enough, you speak up, you are yourself, and you don’t buy into the myth that you can’t be the person you dream of being!

Happy International Women’s Day! Throw your shoulders back, hold your head up high – you are a great, confident person who will make the future so much better and brighter by being you.

*According to the U.S. Department of Labor

When unexpected challenges threaten to disrupt meetings and travel plans, having a specialized team that enables you to keep event objectives on track is mission critical.

Virtual events can connect your presenters and attendees online from nearly anywhere in the world. But when most people think of virtual events, they think of it from the attendees’ point of view – where elements of an event are available online for live viewing to those who are unable to participate in person.

It’s a whole different ballgame, however, when presenters are unable to appear at events. Planners spend countless hours securing speakers, agendas, and content for their meetings. So, having an experienced digital solutions partner that can help you connect presenters to attendees, both at the host site and around the globe, is key to keeping your event on track.

Here’s a real-life example. When the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted, it ejected a massive volume of ash into the atmosphere that directly impacted air travel and passengers. The worldwide impact included:

  • 20+ countries affected
  • 6 days of disrupted air traffic
  • 100,000 flight cancellations
  • 10 million passengers affected

With participants and presenters unable to fly to their conferences and meetings, a solution was necessary to ensure impacted meeting planners, who tirelessly designed their events, could carry on without losing presenters or participants.

The PSAV Virtual Events team was able to assist numerous clients by leveraging different video conference and streaming solutions. With our assistance, key presenters who had been unable to attend their events in person were able to connect, present, and interact with attendees. Once afflicted by travel disruptions, attendees were now able to see the presentations through a virtual attendee experience.

From video conferencing and webcasting to live streaming and simultaneous interpretation, PSAV has solutions that can extend the reach of your event. Be it by design or due to unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances, our team can bridge the gap between presenters and participants.

While the volcano example had a broad scale impact, other smaller and personal circumstances can also impact the ability for some to attend events in person. Don’t wait until the last minute to come up with a backup plan. Reach out to our Virtual Events team and find out more about our new package offerings here.

When it’s time to select your venue, a site visit is one of the most critical steps. Not only do you get to physically step in your space and imagine your event coming to life, it’s a chance to ask the most important questions with your potential venue team.

Unfortunately, so many of us are busy with the details of the space contracts and food and beverage minimums, that our time with AV providers is often cut short. On your next site visit, be sure to squeeze in some time with your AV partner and ask these questions to ensure a successful event.

What would you recommend to make a greater impact with my budget?

If you only ask one question, this is it.  As planners, of course we have ideas right out the gate with an inspiration board – but no one knows the space better than an on-site event experience team. During your site visit, discuss your vision and ask what they would do to make it work within your plan and budget.

Because they have worked so many events within the very space you’re standing in, they can take the groundwork of your initial plan and elevate it – whether it’s rigging screens differently for new vantage points or trying new seating levels. This discussion can change the whole direction of your event and catapult it to new heights.

What other services do you offer?

These days, AV companies do so much more than just audio-visual. With teleconferencing, content design, and event internet, the same company will likely be able to provide you with almost everything you need for your event. So, before you start the taxing process of looking around for extra technology quotes, be sure to explore the opportunity of leveraging your in-house partner.

Are there any exciting new technologies I can employ?

It’s the old adage of “if you don’t ask, you don’t know.” Technology changes rapidly, and there may be something new on the horizon offered by your event partner. Maybe it’s a new mobile engagement app that could be a great way to show meeting value to your stakeholders. Your provider will be eager to talk to you about everything they have – you just have to ask!

Who will be my point of contact, and how hands-on will they be?

Don’t wait until you’ve already signed a contract to ask this question (or worse, until there’s a day-of crisis). Ask up-front how big their team is, and who will handle which parts of your meeting. It’s also a good idea to find out if the entire team will be on-site, or if there is an off-site team (for example, in the case of internet), so you know exactly what you’re dealing with going into your meeting and who’s on first.

What information do you need from me?

Communication is a two-way street, and your event partner may have some questions for you as well that will spark some ideas. Be sure to open up the conversation and make sure they have a full understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish up-front to avoid complications later on.

Takeaways

Arming yourself with these questions for your event partner during your site visit can instill confidence in your decision with venue selection, and ensure a seamless event from the start with a team that understands your goals.