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The value of face-to-face marketing can’t be replaced. The pandemic hit the event industry hard, but at some point in time live events will return. Here’s four arguments why you need to prepare for the return of live events.

True, we cannot expect massive multi-day conferences with over 1,000 international delegates and speakers to be held anytime soon. We will see smaller one-day affairs first. The last few months have clearly proven video technology is able to replace live meetings and conferences, but professionals still want to meet professionals in person, connect face-to-face, look each other in the eye and see speakers performing live on stage. Live events can appeal to sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound, whereas virtual meetings have many sensory limitations.

The live events that will return first will be small-scale, with a national or regional focus as both the attending audience and keynote speakers will not be keen to travel, especially long distance.

During conferences and seminars of this type you can expect one or maybe two video keynotes of international and well-known thought leaders, but if the event organizer wants to make sure professionals will switch their hoodies for a proper suit and make their way to a venue, actual lifelike speakers need to show up.

Only speakers on stage who can inform, inspire and provoke the audience will bring people to the event. Here’s a huge opportunity for companies seeking ‘thought leadership’. As event organizers will be in need of available domestic speakers – those who will be able to travel – they may be searching for companies and speakers that would not have been ‘in the picture’ in the pre-COVID days.

So if you are a professional with relevant expertise in a current business topic and you want to build a reputation as a thought leader, you need to focus on these things.

1. Train your presentation skills. Being a thought leader doesn’t imply you are the next Tony Robbins on stage ( It requires skills to captivate your audience for 45 minutes. Work on your voice, your posture, your outfit and speaking technique. People will not only remember your story, but also how you presented yourself.

2. Deliver an amazing presentation. A power point can be more than slides crammed with dull bullet points and poorly selected stock photography. Ensure you have a story to tell, a unique narrative to drive the story forward and amazing visuals to make sure the audience remembers your presentation. This requires an investment that will grow overtime, but if you want to make a difference understand that is your story that sets you apart – not the amount of slides.

3. Start working on your visibility and searchability. Build a reputation as a thought leader in your particular area or sector. You might be the top-notch expert in your field and your team members may think you perform like a rockstar, but if your social media presence is zero, the conference organizers will handpick a lesser god with a better Google ranking.

4. Act like Gary Vaynerchuk. Bring your social media up to snuff, show the world you are an expert and post content, lots of content. Write an op-ed at least once every two months and embrace active media relations. Do not shy away from interviews or other media appearances and make sure event organizers will come across your name everywhere. Need inspiration? Use the “GaryVee Content Model” or imitate his slide deck ‘How to make 64 pieces of content in a day

We don't know when live events will return, but when they do, make sure you’ll be at the top of every event organizer’s list. Be prepared. We can’t wait!

Richard Neve is Managing Director of Cognito Media Amsterdam ( and a professional event organizer.