It’s no secret that a lot of these past few years have been virtual… virtual events, virtual doctor’s appointments, virtual education… you get the gist. So, when it comes time to finally gather your employees or associates at an in-person conference, it’s important to not forget one key element — the human element! And if you need a few pointers, just check out the 2022 ECI Software Connect User Conference at the Gaylord Rockies in Colorado.
Take a look at how this software-as-a-service style business added a human touch to a jam-packed agenda.
From Computer Screens to Colorado with ECI
Like many of my clients from 2020 and 2021, ECI Software Solutions and I first connected last year for the group’s virtual conference. While the original plan was to hold the event in person, we had to shift online last minute. Fortunately, I was still able to serve as the virtual event emcee from a ballroom in Dallas, Texas with a select few members of ECI leadership, where I also donned a bunny suit for the awards reception (just Covid things, right?).
Now that in-person events are back in full swing, it was fantastic to connect with old and new faces alike at the 2022 ECI Connect User Conference. The whole gang headed to the Gaylord Rockies in Aurora, Colorado, a hotel I know well from recurring events like serving as event emcee for Dykema. And when I say the ‘whole gang’ I do mean it: more than 800 attendees arrived in Colorado from across six different countries, the farthest being Australia!
5 Simple Touches to Ramp Up the ‘Human’ Element
The 2022 ECI Connect User Conference was a three-day event with an incredibly packed agenda. The conference schedule called for one general session on the first day, followed by a brief awards ceremony. So, it was my job to serve as the special guest event emcee in the ballroom during that time to set the tone for the upcoming breakout sessions. Here’s how ECI and I worked together to add the human element to the agenda!
1. Leverage a ‘Man on the Street’ Host Style
If there’s one way to break up the normal flow of a conference, it’s to use a ‘man on the street’ style of hosting, especially in the early moments of the event. As the ballroom filled, I grabbed a stick mic to walk around and chat with the arriving attendees. Though a fun way to kick off the morning regardless, I love events like the Connect User Conference that have a camera follow-along, so crowd members see themselves on the room’s monitors too.
Since attendees would only have one day with me as the event emcee, I didn’t want to have to hit the crowd with a ton of housekeeping notes as soon as I introduced myself. Instead, I used my time as the ‘man on the street’ to shout out event sponsors, advise attendees to download the conference app, and more. We got all the announcements out of the way in a fun, interactive moment that allowed the audience to warm up to me as the guest event emcee.
2. Incorporate a Corporate Entertainer
As the event emcee for the general session, one could argue that my presence in the ballroom contributed a human element to the software-driven agenda in itself. However, with 20 years as a professional performer under my belt, ECI and I decided to also loop in a quick corporate entertainment set to further engage the audience.
It’s important to note here that as your event emcee, I don’t need to bring in all the bells and whistles from my Las Vegas show. I can perform one bit to break the ice and loosen up the audience — and normally, that one bit is juggling! Juggling is the perfect metaphor to hang content on, from “we’ve all been juggling a lot lately,” to “we all have a lot of balls in the air.” It serves a simple, quick, and entertaining segue to other more serious agenda items.
3. Find a Positive Keynote Speaker
How else can you bring in a human touch in a software-focused event? With your keynote speaker, of course! The 2022 ECI Connect User Conference knocked that one out of the park with the choice of keynote speaker Bert Jacobs, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist of Life is Good, an apparel company that’s grown to include festivals, a nonprofit organization, a self-help book, and the mission to spread the power of optimism.
Bert is not a regular speaker on the circuit; however, he showed up big time for the Connect User Conference. Not only did he deliver an awesome keynote on leveraging positivity but he also gave a copy of his and his brother’s book, Life is Good, to every audience member! Talk about a human element, right? I also got to chat with Bert after the event about my own nonprofit, Win-Win Entertainment, to hopefully forge a new connection.
4. Connect to the Event Theme
Another way to drive a human element in a content-heavy or software-focused conference is to continuously point back to the shared event theme. Since the 2022 ECI Connect User Conference was held in the Gaylord Rockies in the beautiful state of Colorado, ECI planned a super fun ‘Welcome to Colorado’ party right after the general session.
So, I arrived in none other than a lumberjack-style suit that I found online, delivered to me in Vegas, and tailored before I flew out to Colorado. The red and black checkered print was an awesome call back to the ECI crew, who were all decked out in the company’s signature red and black brand colors. That little touch really kicked it up a notch!
5. Invest in Details Like a ‘First-Timer’ Lanyard
Last but certainly not least, a fun way to establish a human touch is to invest in the small details. It’s the little things that make attendees feel as though their comfortability was considered, or like the event planners took the effort to make them feel at home in a different state — or in this case, an entirely different continent!
Of the 820 attendees, a whopping 473 were first-timers at the event. To help newbies navigate the conference, ECI invested in different colored lanyards: one color for first-time attendees and another for returning guests. This small detail made for a fantastic conversation starter to break the ice and encourage instant networking.
Forge Meaningful Connections with an Event Emcee
What do you do when you need to inject some personality into a content-heavy agenda? You hire an event emcee, of course! A professional event emcee like me, Jeff Civillico, serves as a shot of espresso for any conference, helping to enliven your audience and freshen up your agenda. If you want to drive meaningful connections among your audience or delight them with corporate entertainment, send me a booking inquiry today to get started!
“Our business has worked with Jeff on multiple occasions and have always been delighted with the experience. He comes prepared by understanding our business and key drivers for each meeting. He is able to keep the audience engaged, light-spirited and wanting more. We will continue to leverage Jeff as a valuable asset for our internal and external meetings.”
~ Trevor Gruenewald, CEO at ECI Software Solutions