How to Delight Audiences in Uncertain Times

How to Delight Event Audiences in Uncertain Times

10 min read
Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to chart social distancing needs for the near future.
Yet it’s absolutely possible to run fabulous events in this new, uncertain ‘normal.’ The solution? Creative thinking

In response to common questions we’ve had, our team got revved up with creative juices flowing when asked to reimagine business events post-pandemic.

Read on and get ready for a recharge of your own creative thinking!

The Space Issue
Social distancing has thrown a spatial spanner into the works for choosing venues. Extra space means extra cost, and sparsely placed guests in an empty hall can feel disconnected.

Then there’s the question of safe food service, choosing speakers and entertainers that fit restrictions, and deciding the best event format.

Most event planners we know are abundantly creative and good problem solvers. Here’s how to plan some amazing events that reconnect and re-engage audiences while keeping everybody safe.

It IS possible to run fabulous events in the 'new normal'. Here's how Click To Tweet

How Do I Plan Events for an Uncertain Future?

There’s no point wishing restrictions away – it’s just a fact of life for now.

When planning, we can make the following assumptions:
Social distancing and sanitation measures are here to stay

People will have different feelings about whether to attend or not. Many will be itching to get social, while others may be more cautious for health or personal reasons.

Virtual event formats will continue to play a role, whether fully virtual or hybrid virtual/in-person.

These apply to most events, regardless of scale or long lead times without that crystal ball to tell us the state of play in 6, 12 or 18 months times.

There’s already a trend away from planning 1,000+ pax gala fundraisers and awards ceremonies, towards online, hybrid online/in-person events and smaller, staggered events, which are covered in detail below.

How to plan events for an uncertain future Click To Tweet

Which Formats Work Best With Social Distancing?


Online events have been a popular approach since COVID-19 first struck.

They’ve certainly proven their value, with Event Managers, speakers and entertainers adapting quickly to produce some exceptional audience experiences.

The key to success is:

  • Plan for shorter, more tightly curated sessions
  • Choose high-profile talent to attract audiences
  • Talent that has adapted to online delivery with close engagement to topic and audience
  • Design the event running order to cater for online audience attention span
  • Work with your AV crew to ensure optimum sound, lighting and connectivity

How to Succeed Online

Learn more about running successful online events

Show me how

Learn how to run successful online events Click To Tweet


Events that blend in-person and online attendance are proving popular.

In other words, plan for capped numbers at the actual venue and provide online participation for those who can’t attend in person. Ask venue managers about the options available.

For example, Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) offers a flexible Hybrid Event solution.

For events that normally attract a national crowd, the hybrid approach would work well as a smaller gathering per capital city with the addition of virtual.

Hot Tip: The ICC COVID-Safe Events Guide is a helpful resource for safely planning in-person events.

Flexible hybrid solutions are increasing in popularity. Click To Tweet

Smaller, Staggered Events

Running a series of smaller, staggered events is a great way for workplaces to reconnect safely and boost morale after the lockdown phases had everyone separated.

  • Stagger attendance by team or department
  • Opt for shorter sessions
  • Consider virtual options for those unable to attend
  • Ensure professional cleaning in between sessions

Staggered sessions are an option for end of year celebrations, Christmas parties, awards ceremonies, workshops and product launches.

Staggered events are perfect for awards ceremonies as they accommodate the current COVID-related restrictions. Click To Tweet

Cocktail Service

Socially distanced, sparsely seated tables don’t create the best atmosphere.

Cocktail style service may be a wise choice, and fits better with larger, more open spaces.

It also works well with roving and visual entertainment, which we highly recommend for bringing mood and movement to ‘fill’ the empty spaces.

Cocktail style events are a better solution than sparsely seated tables during social distancing measures. Click To Tweet

How Do I ‘Fill’ a Socially-Distanced Event Space?

Depending on the social distancing requirements, you may need to host an event for 50 people in a space that normally holds 400. That’s a lot of empty space to dampen the mood, robbing the connection and engagement we’ve always relied on to create memorable experiences.

Fortunately, our team has exciting ideas to fill the space and amp it back up:
Opt for roving performers instead of singular-stage acts. Movement is dynamic, uses space, and you can create the desired atmosphere with so many different styles of roving performance

Consider several visual acts spaced throughout the venue, rather than one singular act on stage. Think ‘spot’ stages or podiums, which have built-in social distancing around them.

Larger than life entertainers work exceptionally well – such as costumed, illuminated or highly visible stilt walkers.

In summary, performances that move, are highly visual and have built-in social distancing are the way to go.

How to fill a socially-distanced event space Click To Tweet

Which Entertainers Work Best With Social Distancing?

Learn which event entertainment solutions work best during COVID-19 restrictions Click To Tweet

Live Bands

When it comes to live music, steer away from upbeat, boppy bands that bring out the urge to shimmy close. The standard dance floor is out for now, so keep it classy, loungey and chill.

It may be an opportunity to save budget, with lower profile yet highly talented singers being a good option.

By all means, encourage socially distanced dancing with marked spots or soft barriers. It will be that much easier to manage if the tunes are low key!

Need inspiration?

Here are some of our favourite, more chilled singers and musicians.

Inspire me

Encourage socially distanced dancing by using marked spots or soft barriers on the dancefloor. Click To Tweet

Illuminated Entertainers

Many illuminated entertainers are flexible when it comes to theming, and are able to incorporate your company colours, logos and images.

They have several advantages:

  1. Bright and visible from a distance
  2. Work perfectly with cocktail formats
  3. Can be used to direct people and maintain social distancing
  4. Excellent photo ops!
  5. Provide points of interest around darkened areas

Illuminati Uncovered

Have a look at our gallery of Illuminated Entertainers

Show me

Consider using illuminated entertainers during your event: bright & visible, can direct people and maintain distancing, great photo ops. Click To Tweet

Stilt Walkers

Stilt walkers come in an incredible array of larger than life costumes that are often adaptable to your specific theming needs:

– Fun photo ops
– Draw attention away from open, empty spaces
– Can assist with crowd ushering and creating natural barriers – to help maintain social distancing
– Create magical atmosphere without the need for close interaction with guests

Get Attention

Have a look at our fabulous stilt walking talent for ideas

Stilt me

Stilt walkers can attract attention away from open empty spaces at socially-distanced events Click To Tweet

How Do I Handle Food & Beverage Service?

Cocktail service is easier to maintain special distancing than standard table seating. It’s also more engaging than 4 people spread around a table that normally seats 10-12.

Another option is theatre-style seating for presentation components – socially spaced, of course – then moving guests into a celebratory cocktail style event at the end with food, drink and entertainment.

Waiting service has restrictions, so multiple self-service stations for drinks, food and desserts around the space allow guests to easily help themselves.

Self-service stations create opportunities for placing nearby entertainers to create wow factor.

How to handle food & beverage service during limits on social distancing Click To Tweet

Can I Hold a Staff Get-Together?

Our team’s answer to this is a resounding, Yes!

For many, the novelty of working from home wore off quickly.

Management teams want to enable bonding, engagement and reconnection to keep productivity high through tough times. They’re looking to reward teams for their efforts to stay focused through lockdown and beyond.

Stay focused on safety, plan with distancing in mind and, absolutely, you can hold staff get-togethers.

Stay focused on safety, plan with distancing in mind when holding staff get-togethers. Click To Tweet

Should I Hold a Christmas Party This Year?

As you might have guessed, our answer here is again a resounding, Yes!

Think staggered, smaller and hybrid virtual formats, and see the year out safely in style. Christmas themeing works beautifully with exquisitely costumed, illuminated performers that move about the space or perform from mini podiums.

Think staggered, smaller and hybrid virtual formats, and see 2020 out safely and in style. Click To Tweet

The New Normal: Creative Sparks

There are so many unknowns in the post COVID-19 ‘new normal.’ What we do know about the new normal is that it’s here to stay.

As Event Managers, our stereotype is the fast-thinking, self-motivated, super-organised, problem-solving and CREATIVE whizz. Let’s draw upon our skills and make the very most of every production.

May we all rise to the challenges of our times and create the most engaging, memorable and meaningful experiences that rival anything ever done before, even pre-pandemic.

Next steps

About the Author

Gav George

When his school music teacher loaned him a cassette tape (yes, he's that old) of a fusion band, Gav entered the jazz world after years of classical music training. He was lucky enough to play with some of the greatest living jazz musicians and toured key festivals. Then Enhance founder Alison Clarke called on Gav to work on the company's marketing. This led him to his new passion of… marketing! Gav oversees Enhance's marketing initiatives, gets a kick out of connecting with clients and unearthing new talent. Gav still has that cassette tape, so if his music teacher reads this, please get in touch so he can return it.

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