paul_cook

Kongres Magazine interviewed Paul Cook, whose name has become synonymous with hybrid and virtual events. A past president of the UK Chapter, Paul is known as a thought-provoking expert speaker and facilitator who likes to challenge the events sector to constantly improve. He is also the Director of the Hybrid Event Centre. Paul is an experienced content writer, author of two books, and is the Executive Producer of EMEC 2021.

“We can help change the world by enabling other sectors to understand the range of options they have when it comes to events.”

Q: In line with the event’s slogan – power up your meetings – how can we make events and the meetings industry better?

We can make the events sector better by understanding that Covid-19 has dramatically affected the way in which companies will expect more choice in event delivery in the future. We can do better by working much closer together, and collaborating should be much more commonplace as we all help each other. In doing so, this will speed our recovery and help the sectors we serve.

Q: In what way will this year’s EMEC be a breakthrough event, and what can attendees expect of the event?

This edition of EMEC is the first-ever fully virtual event. What can attendees expect, great question. A mix. They can choose what they want to attend and how much they want to participate. They can expect to be challenged in their thinking. And, of course, there will be some emotional moments. But I do not want to give too much away. I think the programme reveals a lot.

mpi_emec
Photo Credit: MPI

Q: Everyone that has gotten used to creative ideas and listening to exceptional keynote speakers is looking forward to the virtual edition of EMEC. What are the highlights of this year’s event?

I think highlights are difficult because every single session is packed with content and it will be the delegates that decide on what was the highlight for them. We have an inspiring keynote, a scientific keynote, 8 Power Up sessions, a link with WEC, a Collaboration Challenge, an Outside In panel and more besides and hopefully that will give you a flavour of what’s on offer.

Q: What will the meet-ups look like in practice?

Meet-Ups will be through Twine, and we have a couple of spots allocated so delegates can talk to each other on a one to one basis.

emec_2019

“We have opened the doors to virtual productions that increase engagement and diversity, and those doors can only be shut if a client wants to only use in-person events.”

Q: Can you draw parallels between the live and virtual EMEC experience?

Parallels are definitely the amount of behind the scenes work that goes in to make this a super successful event. Furthermore, the energy being put in by the Chapters.

Q: How do you personally see the future of the meetings industry?

I see it in a very positive place – take a look at this blog post as I think that gives you a good idea of where I am:  https://paulcook.co.uk/the-future-is-bright/.

mpi_emec
Photo Credit: MPI

“MPI’s role is to bring their community together for a faster overall recovery for everyone.”

Q: Considering that this year MPI EMEC will be virtual, we want to hear your prediction for EMEC in 2022. Where and how will it take place?

It is going to take place on the South Coast of England in Brighton. At the moment, it is going to take place as a hybrid event – combining in-person and virtual delegates.

Q: How relevant is the legendary MPI slogan “When we meet – we change the world” for you personally?

I think this year more than any other when this slogan is even more important. We can help change the world by enabling other sectors to understand the range of options they have when it comes to events. We have opened the doors to virtual productions that increase engagement and diversity, and those doors can only be shut if a client wants to only use in-person events. I see event professionals everywhere needing to be much more mindful of climate challenges, and dealing with contradictions will be a skill that has to be developed. Yes, this is definitely an interesting and challenging time.

Q: What is your personal opinion regarding virtual events? How strong will the digital events sector be after the corona crisis?

I see no reason for virtual events not to keep getting better and becoming even more valued by clients. Virtual events are absolutely here to stay. Unfortunately, there is always some kind of crisis going on somewhere across the globe, and virtual events are a way of helping clients remain robust. Just think of the European ash cloud some years ago. Virtual events certainly helped then when people were unable to fly in Europe.

Q: What is the role of international associations like MPI during this phase of the corona crisis transition?

Their role is to inspire their members. Their role is to bring their community together for a faster overall recovery for everyone. And their role is to lead the way.

REGISTER FOR EMEC 2021

EMEC has a strong tradition in progressive meeting and event conceptual design and development, utilizing innovative design and an incubator mentality to rethink and unlearn traditional event planning practices. EMEC 2019 was recognized by Best Event Awards (BEA) with the Best Conference Award, and the MPI Netherlands Chapter received the MPI RISE Award for Innovative Educational Programming.

REGISTER NOW!