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Why The Method For a Excessive-Attendance Occasion Should Embody Creativity, In response to SXSW’s Co-President

Based in 1987 in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual convention that brings collectively greater than 300,000 professionals within the movie, TV, music, schooling, and tech industries.

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In 2024 alone, featured audio system embody embody Jane Fonda, Dwyane Wade, Alex Cooper, and Daisy Ridley.

All of which is to say: It‘s a large occasion centered round numerous inventive verticals. So who higher to talk on creativity than SXSW’s Co-President, Hugh Forrest?

As Forrest places it, “Our north star has all the time been creativity. I have been with the occasion for over 30 years, and the occasion has modified lots over that point interval … However what hasn’t modified is our deal with creativity.”

Let‘s dive into a few of Hugh’s high ideas for injecting creativity into any occasion planning course of. Fascinated with listening to the total interview? Test it out on the Hustle Day by day present.

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How you can Inject Creativity Into Your Subsequent Excessive-Attendance Occasion

1. Permit creatives to be taught from different creatives.

One of many largest advantages of large-scale occasions is the chance to community with professionals outdoors of your vertical.

As a marketer, I‘m not all the time fascinated by studying from different entrepreneurs. Typically, I’ve discovered probably the most inspiration in conversations with script-writers, educators, or social media creators.

Hugh Forrest believes wholeheartedly within the energy of interdisciplinary networking.

He says, “Particularly, we have seen how completely different sorts of inventive individuals can be taught from one another. In the event you’re a musician, you’ll be able to be taught lots from connecting with different musicians … However you’ll be able to be taught much more from connecting with an innovator within the meals area, or an athlete, or somebody who’s doing a tech startup.”

In case your occasion is overly-siloed, it will likely be troublesome to foster the kind of collaboration and creativity that your attendees crave. As a substitute, contemplate the way you would possibly merge seemingly-opposite teams of execs to work together and be taught from one another.

2. Keep targeted in your group and what issues to them.

Forrest says that SXSW has all the time mirrored the creativity in Austin, Texas.

When SXSW first started in 1987, they fully targeted on music — after which, in 1994 when Austin turned a burgeoning movie scene, SXSW tailored and added movie and multimedia.

Extra not too long ago, when the College of Texas added a medical faculty, SXSW launched well being and medical expertise into their content material lineup.

As Austin expands and shifts its pursuits, so does SXSW. Finally, Forrest has found one vital part of long-term success within the occasion trade: Keep on-top of what issues to your viewers, and discover methods to pivot when acceptable.

Click on right here to hearken to the full podcast episode right here.

As he places it, “I imply, if we’re related, if we’re compelling, if we’re enhancing, a lot of that’s as a result of we’re very in contact with our group or the assorted communities we serve—whether or not that is bands and filmmakers for the movie and TV competition, or entrepreneurs, innovators, and creators. The occasion has thrived for 35 years due to this deal with huge creativity in all its many varieties.”

He provides, “If Austin continues to push into AI and turns into this world heart for AI innovation, we’ll push much more into AI at South by Southwest. If Austin turns into the sneaker capital of the world, then we’ll see much more sneaker stuff in Austin.”

Equally, when you think about testing out new content material at your subsequent occasion, maintain your group on the forefront.

AI is a trending matter proper now, however are you positive your group cares about it? Or are they extra fascinated by studying the way to increase their TikTok following? Leaning into the content material that applies to your group will likely be key to creating a satisfying and high-attended occasion.

3. AI is more and more essential … however do not under-appreciate the face-to-face part that lets creativity shine.

“One of many themes that we all the time rediscover at SXSW is on the one hand, we’re an occasion about expertise and rejoice new methods for individuals to attach,” Forrest says.

He provides, “However however, an important expertise is face-to-face interplay. And that hasn’t modified. Bringing individuals with numerous concepts collectively in a metropolis that has all the time cultivated and celebrated creativity — in a time of 12 months when you have got the manifestation of rebirth and creativity (i.e. springtime) — has turned out to be a really robust method for good issues to occur.”

AI is all the fashion proper now. However probably the most compelling cause individuals buy tickets to conferences and occasions is the in-person providing. With 65% of staff preferring a very distant setup, face-to-face interactions are uncommon.

When given the possibility, individuals need to leap on the chance to attach in-person.

So, whereas it may be tempting (and cost-effective) to create a completely digital occasion, you would possibly need to contemplate providing attendees the chance to interact in actual life — even when that simply means an optionally available meet-and-greet after the principle occasion.

As Forrest places it, “Creativity is what makes us human. And in 2024, as we see increasingly machines taking up, we actually must lean into our humanity.”

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