Why The Formulation For a Excessive-Attendance Occasion Should Embrace Creativity, Based on 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, training, 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 an enormous occasion centered round numerous artistic verticals. So who higher to talk on creativity than SXSW’s Co-President, Hugh Forrest?

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

Let‘s dive into a few of Hugh’s prime suggestions for injecting creativity into any occasion planning course of. Enthusiastic about listening to the complete interview? Test it out on the Hustle Every day present.

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The way to Inject Creativity Into Your Subsequent Excessive-Attendance Occasion

1. Enable creatives to be taught from different creatives.

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

As a marketer, I‘m not at all times excited by studying from different entrepreneurs. Generally, 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, “Specifically, we have seen how totally different sorts of artistic individuals can be taught from one another. If you happen to’re a musician, you’ll be able to be taught quite a bit 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, will probably be tough to foster the kind of collaboration and creativity that your attendees crave. As an alternative, contemplate the way you may merge seemingly-opposite teams of pros 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 at all times mirrored the creativity in Austin, Texas.

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

Extra lately, 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. In the end, Forrest has found one crucial part of long-term success within the occasion trade: Keep on-top of what issues to your viewers, and discover methods to pivot when applicable.

Click on right here to take heed to the full podcast episode right here.

As he places it, “I imply, if we’re related, if we’re compelling, if we’re bettering, a lot of that’s as a result of we’re very in contact with our group or the varied 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 middle 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 subject proper now, however are you positive your group cares about it? Or are they extra excited by studying the right way to broaden their TikTok following? Leaning into the content material that applies to your group will probably 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 at all times 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, a very powerful expertise is face-to-face interplay. And that hasn’t modified. Bringing individuals with numerous concepts collectively in a metropolis that has at all times cultivated and celebrated creativity — in a time of 12 months when you’ve 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 fad 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 prospect, individuals need to bounce on the chance to attach in-person.

So, whereas it may be tempting (and cost-effective) to create a wholly digital occasion, you may need to contemplate providing attendees the chance to have interaction in actual life — even when that simply means an non-compulsory meet-and-greet after the principle occasion.

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

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