Six things we learnt from Blitz Connection 2019

This week saw event organisers and producers head to The Brewery, London for our annual Blitz Connection event and to help us celebrate our 30th anniversary. It was a fantastic day packed full of ideas and great panel discussions from live event industry legends to educate and inspire our clients and help them plan amazing events for the future.

Here are just a few of our key takeaways from the day…

  1. The stage is a place to communicate a message

The opening keynote speech of Blitz Connection saw Caryn Franklin MBE, tell the audience just how important technology can be to support the storytelling of a live event.

The BBC broadcaster commentator, activist, fashion editor and former presenter of The Clothes Show noted that the visuals can be a trigger for creating an emotional connection with your audience and that will create an experience that will stay with attendees’ post event.

Franklyn explained: “When it comes to live events, everyone is storytelling and the stage is a place to communicate that message.”

  1. The future is now

Event trends are often a popular topic at industry conferences - at Blitz Connection it was all about technology and how it will impact the future of live events.

Interestingly, the panel, hosted by Adam Parry, editor of Event Industry News and made up of Richard Padun, director of Arcstream, Blitz technical director John Steele and Mike Piddock, CEO of Glisser, agreed that swapping between high-tech and low-tech options can be the best blend to unlock different parts of your audiences’ brain – with the left brain being analytical and the right, being more creative.

Event tech really is showing no signs of slowing either; a staggering two million events will have live polling by 2020 – an event technology that has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, along with live Q&As.  

  1. What about budgets?

The topic of budget is always going to be at the forefront of planning a live event, and quite often described as the biggest barrier for organisers who are wanting to be more ‘creative’ and adding technology to their events.

John Steele believes organisers should build the technology costs in right at the beginning of the event project process, rather than down the line when the budgets are set in stone. He added though that while he thinks budgets have remained quite similar, there needs to more value in that budget which comes from careful consideration on what technology is fit-for-purpose.

Glisser’s Mike Piddock agreed and said that there should be budget dedicated to collecting data and understanding from the audience on how well the event ran. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a big investment though; you could even have some tennis balls and two buckets, one with smiley face on and one with a sad face. Easy and very low-tech!

  1. You’re in the business of theatre

According to Will Glendinning, veteran live event producer, director and author, most people working in the event industry have forgotten the industry that they’re in or have never fully understood the industry they work in the first place and that is the business of theatre. 

He explained: “You’ve got a performance space, you’ve an audience. If you’re not going to move your audiences, what is the point? To create the most impact from an event starts at the genesis of the event.”

He added that theatre is a craft and a discipline in its own right and to create the right event you need to ensure you have a correct team structure and procurement processes in place from the outset.

  1. We all choose to work long hours

Long working hours in the event industry has become the norm, but is just not necessary, claims event industry guru Will Glendinning.

He explained that there are four key roles that are fundamental in running any event project that if in place streamline the decision-making and procurement process. Each team must include an Overall Lead, Content or Creative Director, Production and Technical Lead, Logistics and Operations Lead – get these roles right and they rest will fall into place. 

  1. Justify your creativity

When it comes to the initial planning of an event, it all starts with a strong brief. So often, organisers don’t engage and consult with their suppliers early enough in the event planning process and as a result, miss out on the opportunity to glean ideas from their suppliers’ experience.

A panel made up of Blitz creative director, Mark Watson, Zak Roby, Blitz commercial director and Rosie Ham, course director at the Event Academy, discussed how organisers can improve their briefing process to maximise the creativity of a project.

Roby explained: “We have some clients who have had us involved in planning and we have helped design the brief, and this ensures it gives a true ROI to their company strategy.

The debate however came when changes to the brief are needed. Ham said: “Start small, don’t go into the meeting and say you’re going to change everything – tie it back to the objective, and why it will achieve it.

Watson agreed that creative changes can be intimidating at times and “it’s a careful journey to go on.” Roby however said if you’re going to make a dynamic change; ensure you always have a justification of why.

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