Many of us have questions about how speakers are doing and what the future of live events will look like. We are so unsure about what it means to have a conference in an age when you can’t stand within six feet of someone.

Lauren Davis was a marketer, community organizer, and record store owner. Her real claim to fame, though, is that she does social media for conferences speakers like me. She helps speakers really connect with their audiences in a different way.

Lauren also has all kinds of wisdom and smart ideas about the world of connection and community. She is all about community in a virtual world. 

When I asked her about the current uncertain state of conferences, she said, “I think right now, as speakers, it’s a really good time for you to have severe empathy for the people planning the conferences, but it’s also a good time for conference organizers to have severe empathy for the speakers, because all of the speaker’s income is gone.” 

She emphasized that conference organizers have lost everything they’ve put all their hard work into. Speakers have also lost so much in that their entire source of income has been taken away. Each of us must put ourselves in other people’s places and ask what we can do to make it better for them.

I also had the chance to ask her about her predictions for the future of conferences. However, the reason that this season is so hard for us is that we don’t know what’s going to happen. We can predict and plan if we have the foresight, but in reality, none of us know much. What we can do is continue creating content, take things in little chunks at a time, and keep moving forward. 

Because of the unprecedented season the world of live events is in, there has been a push towards virtual events. Many are being put together on the fly just for the sake of having a virtual event. However, the hosts and thought leaders behind these events need to consider what will be highly relevant to their audience in the next few months. The topic doesn’t have to be directly related to COVID-19 but should be relevant to the things people are struggling with right now. There are so many opportunities for innovation and problem solving that need to be harnessed and worked into relevant themes explicitly for the audience we’re serving. 

There are also ways to create a connection with the audience in virtual events. Firstly, the shorter the better. Additionally, try to provide opportunities for the attendees to collaborate with one another and to get involved in the conference.

I’m talking about these topics—and more on the future of business conferences— in my weekly newsletter. I’m also sharing a video to help you think about your week ahead. You can sign up here.