Eventbrite hosted the first-ever RECONVENE summit in May. The virtual networking and skillsharing event featured more than 20 talks and workshops from some of the most dynamic thinkers in the event world. We’re recapping the two-day event’s key takeaways on the blog. Watch recordings of every session here.

Last year, when the coronavirus pandemic shattered all notions of what a live event looked like, Priya Parker saw opportunity.

“Overnight, what we did and the way we did it — the way we gathered — was paused,” she said during Eventbrite’s RECONVENE summit. “Just to remind us all, this word that basically meant meaning and connection and excitement changed overnight to danger and death and public health. All of a sudden there was this moment where we got to pause and ask, ‘Well, how do we do this now?’”

Parker, the author of “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters,” joined Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz for a fireside chat about reevaluating what events will look like going forward.

Here are four takeaways for event creators. 

1. Find the purpose of your event before beginning planning

Begin the event-planning process by asking yourself: Why are we doing this? What is the need in this community? And who should be there? “I think the biggest mistake we make when we gather is that we assume the purpose is shared and obvious,” Parker said. “We can forget to ask, ‘What is the function?’”

Once that information is crystallized, creators can begin to shape an event that will truly be meaningful for its attendees. “We can be the torchbearers to ask — and ask and ask again, every time — why are we doing this?” Parker said. “And then create meaning from there.”

2. Practice generous authority

“Generous authority is using your power as a host for the good of the group,” Parker said, particularly when it comes to protecting, equalizing, and connecting guests.

One way to practice generous authority is to prime your guests for what to expect ahead of time. When you send an invitation, for example, make sure prospective attendees are completely aware of what will be required of them, like wearing a costume or giving a speech.

Parker recalled once receiving an invite that instructed guests to “park [their] strollers at home.” That let her know the event would be a no-kids affair full of dancing. It was “kind of a fun, playful way of signaling what the intention of the host is,” she said.

3. End events with a bang

When wrapping up an event, it’s important to “look backward and say, ‘What transpired here together?’” Parker said. “And then part of it is to look forward and say, ‘What is it we want to take with us? What it is that we want to go and tell other people about?’”

Instead of saying a casual goodbye to conference attendees, for example, conclude by opening up the platform’s chat room. Ask attendees to write down one “aha!” moment they had during the event. That will help people reflect, and the answers will also offer lots of data on their insights. Then, ask guests to look forward by sharing one takeaway they plan on implementing in the future.

4. Embrace the awkwardness of live events

Internet issues interrupted the conversation between Parker and Hartz, but they weren’t fazed. Reflecting on the snafu later, Hartz noted that “perfection is not all that it’s cracked up to be.” During the glitch, the chat feature came alive, and attendees rallied. The community’s support, encouragement, and conversation helped Hartz feel that “all was well.”

Rather than get flustered or write the event off as a disaster, there’s joy to be found in those little moments that remind us we are, after all, gathering live. 

Watch the full video of Priya and Julia’s RECONVENE talk below:

Already know your event’s purpose? Start planning your next event here.

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