Visual, social, interactive: Live event trends for 2018

With each new year comes new predictions for what we’re all likely to be eating, drinking, wearing, and downloading in the year ahead. When it comes to most fashion, it doesn’t much matter whether you go with the flow or stick with the status quo. But in the world of event management, the ability to offer innovative and memorable experiences remains key to keeping clients, year after year, and staying ahead of the competition.

Following another successful year, scribing, sketchnoting and delivering workshops at live events of all sorts and sizes (some 313 live events in 2017!), our team have some unique insights into the emerging trends likely to make their mark on events in the coming months.

What seems clear to us at the kick off of 2018, is that the visual, the social and the interactive have a huge and exciting role to play.

Events THAT bring certainty in an uncertain world

With little over a year to go before Britain's scheduled departure from the EU, British businesses face a daunting to-do list. But, amid the continuing uncertainty over trade, customs, transition deals and plenty more besides, one thing, at least, does seem sure: A growing need to counter the prevailing unease with events that build teams, boost morale, improve planning and communication. And, at Scriberia, we've noticed this theme emerging strongly in live events of recent months. 

Creative director, Dan Porter, notes: 'In the current political climate it seems the only certainty is uncertainty. And while I wouldn’t be so bold as to claim that scribing is the key to untangling the convolutions and ramifications of Brexit, I would say that clarity often emerges from confusion when we attempt to map issues spatially and make them more visual.

'Scribing for a group helps align everyone behind one version of the conversation. It creates a shared language, a collective vision, and enables people to spot links and common interests that can turn complexity into opportunity.'

In recent conversation with Eventbrite, Lizzie Dring, Director at Right Angle Events, recognised the need: 'As businesses are planning ahead, especially in light of the looming Brexit, companies are focusing harder on team development as well as team building, both of which are crucial. Looking at team dynamics and individual personality types, managers are aiming to improve not only the productivity of employees and teams but also the interactions between people, to support greater mental wellbeing.'

It's often said that a day with one of our scribes can feel like a day of group therapy - and perhaps, adds Dan, that is, without doubt, what organisations and their employees, need at a time like this.

'The seismic political events of the last couple of years has made many feel disempowered and unrepresented, and similarly, when organisations are under pressure there’s perhaps a tendency for some voices not to be heard,' he says. 'But one of the fundamental qualities of any scribe we send on a job is that they’re great listeners. Whatever the conversation, if someone has the courage and conviction to speak up, we can give their ideas careful consideration, and, through visualisation, give them prominence and permanence.

'Seeing their idea captured by a scribe often gives people the confidence to contribute more. And as a democratically collected wall of ideas and insights, scribing can really help turn a group of individuals into a team.'

End-to-end event design

From pre-event banner ads and print brochures to post-event emails, the key to impressing your audience in 2018 is sleek and stylish end-to-end design.

Ahead of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in 2017, we created over 100 illustrated assets - including presenter portraits, reportage drawings and street scenes - for use in print and digital marketing, and adorning what seemed like every square inch of Cannes - from its billboards to its bottled water - once the week-long event was in full swing.

In addition, we digitally sketchnoted panel sessions, and scribed a full schedule of 'night school' sessions led by a host of leading creatives. As a result, the Cannes marketing team had a rich seam of visual assets - with a coherent visual style - to share during and after the event.

And it pays to think ahead to the post-event dialogue with your audience, from the very start. As Melissa, Saunders, Event Marketing Consultant, told Eventbrite: ‘I [hope] organisations will continue the dialogue with visitor audiences between events. It’s something I recommend to all my clients rather than popping up in someone’s inbox three months out from a show because you want them to buy your tickets.’

Hands-on learning and serious fun

It's 2018, and, as we may have said once or twice before, a passive PowerPoint presentation simply doesn't cut it anymore. Audiences expect more; they demand to be surprised, engaged and involved. And, what works particularly well, in the age of the virtual and the digital, is to get hands-on.

‘Hands-on learning encourages people to explore their own questions and approach a workshop event with curiosity,' says Scriberia’s Head of Academy, Cathy Haynes.

'It's a far deeper way of learning than learning by verbatim. What’s brilliant about our workshops, in particular, is that the skills you learn through visual thinking – from storytelling to clarity of thinking - can be applied not just to the challenges we may face at work, but to many other aspects of your life, too.’

We find practical learning exercises also encourage participants to tap into a more creative, explorative way of thinking - allowing them to see their ideas from all angles, and share them more easily with others. And, with thanks to clients as eager to explore new means and methods as we are, we've had the chance to create some (possibly) weird, but definitely wonderfully successful workshops in recent months.

At one, participants designed comics in which to tell the stories of their organisation. Tackling real-life challenges in a fictional universe, where heroes vanquished villains, pushed participants to think more creatively about how solutions could be found. At another workshop, for software and services provider, Amdocs, participants spent their own stack of poker chips, in a game we designed to foster critical and strategic thinking around their decision-making processes.

We've long believed that play has a serious purpose, but MIT Professor Mitchel Resnick's recent book, Lifelong Kindergarten, puts forth a thesis that solidly backs our own observations.

'When children build a tower with blocks, they learn about structure and stability.…When they create pictures with finger paint, they learn how colours mix together', he explained in an MIT Press podcast. 'But most important, is that they’re learning about the creative process — how to start with an idea and turn it into a project.' He advocates that hands-on, playful activities used in many kindergarten classrooms not only encourage creative thinking among children, but can, and should, be applied to do the same amongst adults. 

It's an idea central to our own book, How to Draw Anything (download the first chapter here), and our workshops, too. In fact, at every opportunity, we encourage serious grown-ups with serious jobs to roll up their sleeves and have some fun. And, we can't wait to see it receiving a higher billing in the ever-evolving event space.


Check out our definitive guide to enhancing your event with visuals, or contact our live event team to find out more.