March 19, 2020June 11, 2020Planning4 Min ReadSurviving the Next 8 Weeks and BeyondMike LaFolletteIt was only a couple of weeks ago when the event world started scrambling for solutions to carry on with our live events.“Maybe we just need more hand sanitizing stations,” we told ourselves, while the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases spread across the globe. The thought of literally every major event and trade show cancelling or postponing seemed inconceivable, not to mention professional sports, and now in many cities, in-person dining. Most of us have never experienced anything like it in our lifetimes.The sobering reality hit on home on March 15 when the CDC released its latest advisory, recommending the cancellation or postponement of all events with 50 people or more for the next 8 weeks. It was the defining moment when it became crystal clear that virtual events are the only path forward in the foreseeable future.This is our new norm, at least for the next 8 weeks. But it could be longer.And since nobody knows how this will play out, we need to support each other however we can, whether it’s sharing ideas and strategies, social distancing, or simply calling to check on a colleague, client, or friend. The next 8 weeks will be tough—and uncertain. We’ll learn a lot about our industry, and come out stronger in the end. In the meantime, let’s work together.We All Need to Do Our Part and Social DistanceSocial distancing is extremely important for slowing the spread of COVID-19. That’s why multiple states have required bars and restaurants to close for the foreseeable future, events are postponing or moving online, and companies are mandating work-from-home policies. All of this is necessary in keeping COVID-19 from spreading and overwhelming the healthcare system.It’s just plain irresponsible at this point to host a live event (and likely illegal). We can’t ignore how devastating COVID-19 truly is, and how dangerous it may become if we don’t work together to stop its spread and flatten the curve.Standing Together As a CommunityTaking things day by day is necessary right now as new information becomes available by the minute. And with all the uncertainty floating around, we’re all stressed. It’s perfectly normal to feel this way.But, you’re not alone. We’re going to stick together, support each other, and make sure that no matter what, we’ve got each other’s backs.Find Support in Online CommunitiesStaying connected during this time of self-quarantine and social distancing is critical for maintaining physical and mental health.Fortunately, event professionals are more than willing to support others in the industry. Need to vent about all the stress you’re dealing with? Looking for tips and tricks on throwing a virtual event? Join an online community. Here are a couple of options. Bizbash’s Online Community Event Industry News’ Online CommunityEvent Planning and Event Management Online CommunityMake some new connections, check in on each other, and remember: you’re not alone.How to Financially Support the IndustryThere’s no doubt COVID-19 will have a lasting financial impact on the industry. Fortunately, there’s now a petition in the U.S. asking for federal aid to support the events industry.According to the petition, the aid would support:Emergency Medicaid health insurance for uninsured business owners, contractors and laid-off employees$200 billion in in low interest federally backed liquidity loans$100 billion in employee retention grantsIt takes less than a minute to sign, and offers yet another way to support each other and the industry as a whole. Create a Successful Virtual Event Experience Pivoting to a virtual experience is another way you can support the industry and help people connect without meeting in person. In the age of working from home and self-isolation, people still need community and social interactions — your virtual event can help fulfill those needs. Switching to an online event doesn’t have to be a frustrating process, just make sure you do the following: Update attendees about the change and keep them informed of any further updates or news about your eventWork with your speakers to move their presentations to an online platform (Q&A is still possible if you use tech that allows for chats and other means of communication, such as answering polls) Choose the right tech to connect attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitorsUnderstand the capacity of your virtual event (how many people can be online in the same place at once?) Continue to help people meet If there’s one takeaway from COVID-19, it’s that a single incident can impact a multi-billion dollar industry in a matter of weeks. Adding a virtual component to any event going forward may be the best insurance policy.Keep Pushing On – No Matter WhatJulius Solaris, editor of Event Manager Blog, said it best. “It’s tough out there. We will prevail and become a stronger, more united industry.” That’s true, and what we do over these next eight weeks will shape our future. Social distance. Continue to help people meet. Stay resilient and move forward. And remember that no matter what, we are all in this together.If you have any questions about how to use an event app in virtual events, who can share best practices.Mike LaFolletteWriter @ Red Pen Content. Master Gardener. Dad to an enormous Alaskan Malamute!