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Animals to Avatars: It's All About the Attendee

Keeping attendees safe but part of the process makes for better presentations and performances.

For planners, the way to make clients happy is to make attendees happy.

During the last few months, meetings and events have been rethought to accommodate the needs of attendees who can’t travel or assemble in large groups but still need information, education, and input in the discussion. Planners have scrambled to implement and improve virtual presentations and interactive panels, but some interesting developments have been happening in the evolution of how attendees and audiences experience them.

It began when an animal sanctuary in California launched a “Goat 2 Meetings” program where organizers could invite a farm animal to a Zoom meeting, and has now reached the stage where events can happen within a live, multi-player computer game where participants can attend as their gaming avatar.

Attendees need to feel part of the experience with others, and presenters and performers do better with an audience. When the lockdown began earlier this year, the TV show “American Idol” toyed with using virtual reality Disney characters as audience members to maintain the performance atmosphere, although that format was eventually rejected. Judging by sports’ fans willingness to pay for a cardboard surrogate to attend games and the uptake of zoom backgrounds and face filters, people want their presence noted in online events.

Here are some of the options for a new attendee presence.

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