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It’s been a great year for events. Every week, we’re receiving photos from our clients of talented speakers taking actual, physical stages and event attendees gathering together (sometimes, for the first time in years) for unforgettable shared experiences. While virtual events aren’t going anywhere, in-person events are steadily making their comeback in 2022, and we’re here for it.

In addition to being “here for it,” we are also here for you. If you’re like many of our clients, you may be eyeing your first in-person event since the initial pandemic shutdown. But even if you’ve already taken the leap, we’ve got a few valuable tips that can help you get the most out of your next in-person or hybrid event.

Katie Carson, Experienced Talent Booking Agent, All American Entertainment

Bonus tip (Katie Carson, Senior Account Executive): “While we always strive to provide a quick turn around for clients, demands have increased, as event planners and audiences are excited to get back to in-person events. You’ll want to leave enough time for handling contracts, payment, booking travel, and all that goes into making an event come together. So book early! Also, keynote speakers’ schedules are more packed than ever, so booking earlier helps to ensure you have the best chance to secure your ideal speaker.”

First up, let’s talk COVID-19 and safety precautions.

While there seems to be an air of optimism surrounding the pandemic at the moment, and the rising number of in-person events is evidence of easing public fears around COVID-19, you should still do your due diligence. This all begins with building a health safety plan, so you are prepared no matter what happens.

According to the latest guidance from public health officials, that means considering the use of pre-event testing and on-site health checks. It means having conversations with your team about mask requirements, hand sanitizer stations, air filtration systems, and social distancing. As you are thinking about the situation on the ground at your location, consider whether any of these practices are right for your event. Once you’ve come up with a game plan, it’s important to communicate any rules or guidelines to your attendees as soon as possible so they know what to expect and can make the proper arrangements.

Edie Boan, Event Logistics Manager, All American Entertainment

Bonus tip (Edie Boan, Director of Event Logistics): “Go Hybrid! Audiences are used to virtual events, and love getting back to in-person events, so why not give them the best of both? Use dynamic stage setups that share space for both in-person and virtual speakers presenting to audiences from the same platform. The interactivity of both formats and your amazing content keeps your audience’s attention.”

Welcoming attendees back in person also means ensuring they don’t go hungry, assuming your event runs through any regular meal times. If you feel extra precautions are necessary for your situation, masked and screened servers to hand out food, or prepackaged items can offer extra layers of protection against the spread of germs.

You may also want to consider talking with your event venue provider to see if they have a force majeure clause and what COVID-related incidents could be covered by it.

Nova Coker, Contract Specialist, All American Entertainment

Bonus tip (Nova Coker, Contract Specialist): “It’s helpful to have a clear understanding going into the contract process of a force majeure clause as it relates to COVID. Will you need to postpone your event if there is a local surge or only if the venue is closed and the event can no longer take place? Will you instead want a virtual contingency clause that automatically switches the speaker’s performance to a virtual presentation, or do you prefer to reschedule the in-person event? Having a clear plan laid out in the contracts stage makes your event preparations much smoother should these options become necessary as the event date approaches.”

Once you’ve covered safety, focus on making it an experience they’ll never forget.

Especially if this is your first in-person or hybrid event in years, you’ll want it to reflect the significance of the moment. Think about everything your audience has been missing the most during the time when in-person events were unthinkable — the travel to a fun destination, the networking, the swag, the palpable excitement of a keynote session, the human interaction — and make sure you incorporate these familiar comforts.

When you’re booking a keynote speaker, be sure to scope out a talented presenter with a great stage presence (we can help with that), and make every effort to have them there physically. For many attendees, this will be their first time back in person, and seeing another face up on a screen could be a bit of a letdown.

Annie Joshua, Event Logistics Manager, All American Entertainment

Bonus tip (Annie Joshua, Logistics Manager): “Always have a backup plan, as there are still some unpredictable elements to in-person events. Plan B for you could involve going hybrid — with the speaker in person and your guests attending virtually. If you are planning a hybrid event, be sure to make use of all of the wonderful tools available on virtual event platforms that can make virtual attendees still get that feeling of connection that in-person events provide.”

Consider pairing your headlining keynote speaker or speakers with some entertainment. A live comedian, musician, magician, or other performer can elevate the excitement and give your attendees a chance to feel the electricity in a room full of people for perhaps the first time in quite a while.

Last but not least, acknowledge the difficulties of events in the post-pandemic world and make sure attendees feel safe, supported, and comfortable.

We love getting to see the smiling faces of university students, employees, and organization members as they gather back together to forge connections and hear from inspiring keynote speakers.

These past two years have been difficult for all of us. As our industry welcomes physical audiences back to events, we have a chance to break down barriers of isolation and help attendees connect with one another in meaningful ways. When you’re ready to book your next in-person keynote speaker, emcee, or fireside chat, our booking agents can help you find the perfect fit.