Dear Producer: Has Your Conference Become a Little Tired?

It Might be Time for an Event Audit

Dear Producer: Over the last few years, our annual conference has seemed to lose a bit of its luster. We have also begun to observe a slight downturn in attendance, even though our post-event surveys have been favorable. At first we thought it might be due to our choice of conference locations, but now we’re concerned it could be something more than that. Can you offer any suggestions as to what the next steps might be for our association? – Hopeful CMP

Dear Hopeful CMP: It might be a good time for your conference team to consider an event audit, especially if you haven’t implemented one in quite a while.

And if this is your first audit, then the timing couldn’t be better to re-design, re-brand and re-engage your audience.

Most often, the term “audit” sends shivers down the spines of many of us. But an event audit, performed by objective on-site observers, should be a welcomed comprehensive analysis of the conference, which could very well benefit your association in the long term.

So where do you begin?

The first step:  Pull your team together and identify, from all perspectives, why they feel the conference is or isn’t meeting its objectives.

Next: Gather as much data as you can – attendance trends, event locations, keynote speakers, past surveys, financial records regarding the conference. Were there any unique events that either spiked or may have impacted attendance?

The third step is to identify and choose your audit team. These individuals should be people that you trust will be impartial and can blend in with your attendees. Their mission is to determine what’s working and what’s not, and then offer suggestions on how you can improve the overall experience for your attendees.

Fourth:  Present all the data gathered to your selected audit team. Allow time for their analysis. They should look for possible connections within the data sets, strengths and weaknesses. They should provide you with a concise report from your data.

Next step:   Using their report as a foundation going forward, work with your auditors to develop a mission plan that outlines those aspects of your conference you feel need the most scrutiny. Do your general sessions contain enough audience engagement? Are you getting enough value from your AV vendor when it comes to workshops, exhibit space, and general sessions? Are your pre-/post-event communications truly speaking to your potential attendees? These are just a few areas of focus that should be taken into account when drawing up your event audit mission plan.

The sixth step is what happens onsite. Other elements of your conference that should be considered for evaluation include, but are not limited to, the review of your:

●      Overall conference design

●      Content

●      Programming

●      Attendee engagement

●      Costs of attendance

●      Venue and accommodations

●      Signage/ease of getting from one session to another

●      Food and beverage

●      Networking opportunities

●      Keynote/association speakers

●      Event app

●      Entertainment

●      On-site/off-site receptions

●      Alternative conferences

One other very important aspect of the audit is to conduct one-on-one interviews with your attendees and volunteers. Be sure that your auditors feel comfortable talking with these subjects knowing that some of them may be staff. Yes, you did say that you already offer post-conference surveys. But you’d be surprised at the wealth of information that can result from a 10- to 15-minute conversation with attendees – information that, thanks to some gentle prodding, they might not have thought to include in their surveys.

And your final step – review, with an open mind, the executive report submitted by your audit team. Discuss who your stakeholders are, and be sure that their key questions have been answered.

Your team also needs to be committed and have the ability to look at the report from a creative, meeting planning, content and financial perspective. This is the main reason why you conduct an event audit, and why it’s so important to many of our own production and design clients.

What you take away from this report and decide to implement in the future could be the difference between just an average conference and one that your attendees can’t wait to return to next year.

Good luck!

Jim Pringle is a senior producer at Fusion Productions, with more than 25 years of experience as a meetings, events and television producer. Fusion Productions is a recognized expert in meeting design, analysis, eLearning, innovative engagement techniques and experiential learning.


Fusion Productions in the MPI Spring 2019 Meetings Outlook

“Because of the diversity of needs and people’s expectation for personalization, they expect to come to your meeting and find what they want, when they want it,” says Hugh K. Lee (MPI Upstate NY Chapter), president of Fusion Productions in Webster, N.Y., near Rochester.

That’s the world we live in. Meeting design has shifted to, ‘How do we create experiences and give a lot of different options?’
— HUGH K. LEE, MPI Upstate NY Chapter, Fusion Productions

Lee typically has five or six options going on simultaneously, so attendees can have the experience they are looking for, no matter how diverse their needs. “We might have workshop tracks going on in leadership,” he

says. “In that same area, in a large community space, we might have a ‘future of engagement’ lab, where people can go and do hands-on demos, such as virtual reality with goggles. We’ll have galleries of augmented reality but also old-school design, with collaboration areas, chairs, tables and blackboards. We’ll also have an area called The Center, where everyone can bring one question to the keynote who spoke that morning.” The key is bringing together people with the same interests.

“That’s kind of the secret sauce,” Lee says. “We want people who are thought leaders to talk to the keynotes.”

this report was created and released by

Hugh Lee, President
Virtual Decision Making

Save Money and Time by Using VR to Gain Buy-In on Your Meeting Spaces

By Jamie McDonough, CRP, Knowledge Architect | August 15, 2019

The Real-World Challenge

Just two months before a large program was to begin setting their general session in a convention center ballroom, revised labor estimates were provided to the sponsoring organization. Budget was now a real concern.

In order to keep the labor to straight time only, the load in had to be completed over the course of two 8-hour days. However, the association did not have the ballroom space for those two full days. Fusion Productions had several redesign ideas that would work within a single 8-hour set time.

The challenge was to gain buy-in from the association volunteer leadership who had already invested their time and money into a previous site trip.

The Solution

Fusion created a VR (Virtual Reality) version of the room using the existing 5-screen design and another version of the room with the proposed 3-screen design. The VR program and headsets were brought to where the five decision makers were located for a scheduled town hall style meeting. The objective was for them to conduct a virtual site trip with the added benefit of seeing their room set up… complete with screens and stage.

VR Creation Process

The CAD file for the room was analyzed and taken into industry standard 3D modeling software, 3D Studio Max, to build the 3D architectural structure of the room as accurately as possible to the real-world location. This includes structural pillars, walls, alcoves, doors, exits and any other elements which affect room layout. Once completed, the ability to put on the VR headset and walk around the environment allowed producers and clients to notice issues such as audience line of sight from the stage and screens.  Before VR, these issues wouldn’t have been noticed until the physical setup of the room the day before an event.

Artwork that was part of the production including PowerPoint, video, and other screen media was then loaded on the 3D virtual reality screens inside the environment. Previously, when producing media and animation that must seamlessly span from screen to screen in a 3, 5 or 7+ screen setup, there was no way to test if the media was working on the physical screens prior to the show given that those screens aren’t setup until the day before an event. By loading the media inside the VR environment, Fusion’s media and event producers will be able to test and resolve any issues, both technical and visual, which might arise well ahead of the event.

Virtual Reality to Reality

Fusion designer and general session producer Jamie McDonough then met with the client in Atlanta. Each volunteer leader/decision maker and the planning team had an opportunity to wear the VR Oculus goggles. They virtually walked through two different ballroom room designs. They were able to sit in any one of the 3,000 chairs in the room. They were able to walk backstage and then onto the stage as if they were presenting.

Each one of the volunteer leaders quickly agreed that the more affordable 3-screen design was every bit as powerful as the previously approved 5-screen design. And all agreed the VR “site trip” and seeing their room setup options allowed them to make an informed and unanimous decision.

A few weeks later, before rehearsals, at the convention center, one of the volunteer leaders said, “you don’t have to show me where to get on stage. I already did that with the Goggle in Atlanta!”

VR Oculus Generated Room © Fusion Productions

VR Oculus Generated Room © Fusion Productions

Actual AAHOA Show © Fusion Productions

Actual AAHOA Show © Fusion Productions

To VR or Not to VR?

Using VR to make staging decisions is not always necessary. This was an extreme case that could have impacted the attendee experience and association budget. However, some tradeshow applications are becoming more and more common. Imagine you are with mega-company, launching a new brand with a 100’ x 100’ booth footprint, 2-story booth in Las Vegas. It would be worth the time and expense to be able to walk through every room, corridor, and display before the project advances too far down the road.


·        Ask yourself, “Will this provide the ROI we need to justify the cost of development?”

·        What are ways to decrease the costs of VR development?

o   Are there available CAD files with which the structure can begin?

o   Is there existing art for the screens?

·        Work with the VR development team on the objectives. Define if this is to be a finished room with exact wall treatments and carpeting or can generic ambiance work because you’re just looking at screens. Do we need to mimic the stage lighting for presenters that will be new to a stage?

Next time you’re in a bind and can’t get a group of people to fly across country, consider VR to take them there and back!

Jamie McDonough, Knowledge Architect with Fusion Productions, has been producing engaging learning events for over 30 years. His world is primarily in the “main tent” helping others to deliver their messages on the general session stage.

Designing ‘The Soul’ Of Your Event

by Maria Friske, Art Director

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When event managers, meeting professionals and CEOs typically think about event design, they focus on nuts and bolts: stage and room set up, keynote speakers, and all the equipment that will be needed to produce the event.

They do so with good cause. The planning and logistics of even simple events can be daunting.

Unfortunately, this all-too-understandable focus on the details often means that branding and creative aspects of the event become simply one more line item in a long list of boxes to be checked off.

This, I've come to believe, is a not only a mistake, but a missed opportunity.

Branding and creative are crucial to the success of your event and yield an abundance of benefits. You increase your value in the eyes of your customers and prospects. You project an image of consistency and confidence that builds trust and affinity which you can leverage throughout your relationship. Most importantly, you set the stage to generate future business and loyalty by making an impression that lasts long after the tables and laptops and collateral materials have been packed up.

Rather than simply adding design and messaging to your long to-do list, step back and breathe. Take a moment to pause and remember the power of these elements. 

They are the living essence, they are the soul of your event.

And this article will show you how to breathe life – soul – into your next event.

The Creative Process

What separates a great creative approach from a mediocre approach? This is a complex question, but the answer ultimately lies in your creative team's process, especially how it handles the very early stages of design. Tackling the challenge of creating and packaging your messaging and design comes down to understanding effective design thinking methodology.

Remember: the creative process is a process! While it is a voyage of discovery and often ventures into uncharted territory, useful rules do exist. Any journey, no matter how challenging, benefits from starting with a good map.

The Creative Brief

At our firm, beginning with a creative brief is “the law.” Quite frankly, we're adamant, even obsessive about this point… because we’ve seen what happens without it!

 A well executed creative brief includes details on tone, message, goals and objectives, timing, deliverables and budget.

Compiling these details often means asking the critical questions. Who is our audience? What is our message? What are the goals of the meeting? What is the tone of our event? What is the story we are trying to tell? What style best fits that story? 

In these details lie the heart – and soul – of your event.

They encompass everything you want to say about yourself and how you will say it. You are extending an invitation to others. You're starting a conversation. You're making the first move, even while thinking 3, 5, 10 moves ahead.

A creative brief will help you to work smarter, not harder. Your creative concepts will gain depth and reach that will repay you a hundredfold.

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Here's a Questions Checklist to help you get started:

❏     TONE: What tone do you want to present? Along a spectrum from serious to light hearted, where do you fall? Make a list of adjectives, i.e., Upbeat, Motivational, Celebratory, High-tech, Future Forward, Personal, Lighthearted, Fun, Serious etc..

❏     MESSAGE: In an “elevator pitch” time frame, what is your message? If YOU can't boil it down, your members will have trouble coming away with a clear message. Describe what you’re trying to say to the person sitting next to you. That’s your message.

❏     STYLE: What style of visuals will best reflect your message? Colorful, neutral,  photographs, footage, illustrations, Infographics, retro media? Make a list.

❏     MEETING OBJECTIVES: What results do you want to see from the event? What are you trying to achieve? What metrics are you using to measure success? Is it the number of inquiries from members? Requests for specific materials or services? Upgrades in membership status? If that's applicable? You won't get what you need if you cannot define what you want.  Also, what results do your attendees want to achie

❏     MEDIA OBJECTIVES: Your media, such as an opening video, will have different objectives than your meeting. What message are you trying to tell?  What are the objectives, and what do you want attendees to know, feel or do.  What is the tone?

❏     EXPERIENCE: Are there immersive experiences you can add to help achieve these results (such as virtual or augmented reality content) in your meeting space that supports your objectives?

For a creative brief template

Cutting Corners

Too many managers take shortcuts. They make the mistake of thinking, “I’ve done this a million times, I already know what I’m doing.” and “There’s too much to do. I don’t have time for that.” 

The results from this approach are all too evident in the majority of event presentations: by the book, same as it ever was, and often downright boring. That's the essence of mediocre messaging.

We’re not talking about adding glitz, bling, or bells and whistles. We’re talking about taking the brand and message seriously enough to consider how best to present it to the very people you want to address and impress! Every design choice, from color to font to visuals (photography or video or animation) to word choice (including narration and music) should address, support, and indeed reinforce your goals and message.

There's nothing worse than incongruity. A message undermined by poor visuals and presentation or one that falls flat because of uninspired execution or clutter. Remember: what you don't say is often as important as what you do say. A creative brief helps avoid going “into the weeds” with extraneous details or distracting tangents.

TIP: If you truly are too busy to tackle the brief, consider outsourcing to a qualified source that knows how to do this. Plenty of creative professionals can assist you.

A creative brief is the most sacred of all sacred ad documents
— Will Burns, Ideasicle
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Idea Generation 101

Once you've committed to the brief, the next step is idea generation.

Perhaps nothing frightens people more than trying to be “creative.” Most people fear that they simply don't have the right stuff.

So, how does one come up with that killer idea for the event’s theme and messaging?

It’s not rocket science, but there is a science to it.

A lot of research has been done on how people arrive at great ideas. Research continues to suggest that there is almost never a Eureka moment. Most great ideas are made from a series of good ideas that enjoy close proximity to one another, are given ample consideration, and are then carefully developed.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. 
— Vincent Van Gogh

Step #1. Marinate

Before any brainstorming meeting is called, the team should have an opportunity to prepare. 

Circulate the creative brief among key members at least several days before the kick-off meeting so that your associates can absorb the information being given to them.

Let them marinate in it.

It is NOT a passive process. In cognitive (rather than culinary) terms, it means familiarizing yourself with the information, mulling it over, and looking at it from different angles. You cannot rush it.

Participants should conduct their own research then begin to generate ideas for treatments. Often these early ideas are written in a rather loose list format. That's fine.

The goal at this point is putting something down on paper to get started.


Step #2. The Kick-Off Meeting

There’s nothing worse than a kickoff meeting where everyone is being brought up to speed on the content and details of the event. Meetings of this kind eat too much time. Circulating the brief prior to the meeting eliminates this time drain, and is another good example of working smarter not harder.

When the time arrives for the first kick-off meeting, each team member will have understood the parameters of the project and should arrive armed with several ideas, insights and approaches.

Now you're ready to move from individual ideas to collective brainstorming and begin concept development in earnest. 

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Step #3. Brainstorming

To be effective and to present a brand image that is memorable and consistent, event themes and messaging need to be on point, smart, and garners the attention of attendees. Brainstorming a theme can be a stimulating and collaborative process between event producers and the creative department.

The creative brief gives the team the information and insight they need to develop a theme that will resonate with your audience.

First Key to Effective Brainstorming: Practice Safe Collaboration

There are some basic rules that can make the difference between a frustrating and exasperating bull session and a successful collaborative brainstorm.

First and foremost, there are no stupid ideas.

Participants should fight the urge to shoot down an idea they don’t like.

Brutally criticizing or even mocking someone’s idea smacks the off-button on that contributor for the rest of the meeting – and may leave them reeling for hours afterward.

The idea is to open the field wide at this point. Consider all ideas, no matter how weird or off base, as long as they pertain to the goals and objectives of the creative brief. It is amazing how often a seemingly “bad,” idea from one person sparks another to massage it into something very valuable. Or how a pie-in-the-sky idea from one member cross-pollinates with other’s ideas into something exciting and executable.

The best way to proceed is to take the edge off the criticism. For example, “I like Bob’s idea and want to build on it by suggesting… “

Everyone should feel valued and feel that their ideas are being taken seriously.

Second Key to Effective Brainstorming: The What if...? Factor

Encourage people to explore possibilities by asking, “What if?” 

“What if we” translates to, “wouldn’t it be amazing and tremendously cool if we… ?” 

This is where you begin to try out audacious, exciting, unrealistic ideas that would be hard to execute. That's fine. That's the point.

The goal is to spur the imagination of your fellow brainstormers who might see solutions or insights where you do not. One idea usually leads to another – our brains just can’t help it. The best ideas will spark the imagination of others and be built upon. It is this give-and-take that typically generates winning concepts, as one or two top contending ideas emerge and enthusiasm builds around them.

The team should be able to cherry pick the best ideas for naming your event as well as the messaging you want to convey.

Step #4. Concept Development

Now that you’ve got the messaging, the rest real magic can happen. You're ready to give your event personality and a soul.

At this point your creative team can begin to incorporate the principles of design – color, fonts, and style – to create the look and feel for your messaging that mirrors the tone and goals you defined in the creative brief.

Hard hitting and exciting, celebratory and light hearted, inspirational, moving and personal, high-tech and futuristic, or whatever feelings you wish to inspire in your attendees are achieved in design choices.

The personality and mood you create can be reinforced through your speaker support, signage, pre- and post-event marketing, logo development, and animation and video. 

The result: an event that feels cohesive and delivers a more unified and memorable message.

At our firm, we generally develop several concept approaches for each piece of media. The team presents the ideas to the client to see what resonates and if tweaks or adjustments need to be made to any concept. 

A general outline for the media concepts encompasses:

●       Logo and theme development

●       Pre-event marketing materials

●       Speaker support

●       PowerPoint templates

●       Opening video

●       Awards video if needed

●       Destination video, if needed

●       Signage

●       Experiential media (AR/VR), if wanted


Step #5. Designing For Engagement and Experience

This topic deserves its own article. With technological advances booming, there are a multitude of ways to engage your audience before, during, and after the event.

One great advance has bridged the gap between personal and digital, and we highly recommend it: augmented reality. 

Today any print piece can be turned into an engagement tool brought to life with a range of media such as 3D product display, a video or an infographic  to name a few. Posters are especially great at a show for augmented reality experiences.

Virtual reality is also gaining traction in meetings and events, and is an awesome tool in tech pods and teaching demos that might be sidelined to workshops. For a personalized, immersive experience nothing beats VR.

Implementing VR in the general sessions is not without its challenges in this stage of the technology, as VR still relies on everyone’s having a headset (although the output can go to screen). Workshop and tech/health demo spaces are the excellent venues for this technology.

Nevertheless, don't miss an opportunity to put this exciting technology to work for you.

Talk about putting a sense of soul into your event!



Put simply, the design process is a process. These steps outlined can serve as guides for you as well as jumping off points.

With the right information and right questions answered, a well seasoned team can execute at a high level. I encourage you to help your team reach those heights. With a little time and some basic resources, they can get to the heart of the matter for your next event and create branding and messaging that brims with heart and soul.



In future articles we will delve into the details of each of the ideas laid out in this article. For now you have an overview of what it takes to design a superb event experience for your attendees. 

And remember: if you cannot tackle these key tasks in-house, consider outsourcing to a professional company that can be your resource for a great event.

Bio: Maria Friske is an Art Director at Fusion Productions. She has over 30 years of design experience for agencies and companies and has won numerous national awards and recognition.


How to Make Key Volunteer Leaders Shine During General Sessions

Dear Producer: The planning and development of our association’s fall conference is well underway, but we need some advice on how to assist a few members of our volunteer leadership team become more relaxed and confident during their general session presentations. What kind of support can you suggest that will help our presenters shine on stage, especially the ones with the least amount of experience in the spotlight? – Perplexed in Boston

Dear Perplexed: That’s an excellent question! What your volunteer leaders need is a skilled and understanding producer/coach. Whether you seek the advice of a presentation coach, a production company whose producers offer this type of service, or you stay in house, there are important questions to ask and key tips to offer your speakers.  

One of the producer’s top priorities will be to assess how much presentation experience each of your volunteer leaders brings to the stage. Have they ever delivered a speech in front of a large audience before? Do they have experience working with a teleprompter? Have they presented from center stage in the past, without the benefit of a lectern to lean on, literally and figuratively speaking?

Many producers have extensive experience working with and coaching C-suite executives from both the association and corporate worlds. And it’s this type of knowledge that they’ll share with your leadership team, such as:

1.    What’s the story they’re trying to tell? Be sure they focus on key points and images within their presentations.

2.    Make sure they know what is occurring before and after they speak, as well as how they get on or off the stage based on the cues of other speakers.

3.    If they’re working from a lectern, are the presidential paddles set at a height at which they can easily read the teleprompter script?

4.    If their wireless microphones cease to operate, do they know what the plan is to secure a wired microphone to continue?

5.    Are they aware of the audio cues the show caller is expecting to hear from them to roll videos within their presentations, and do they know where on stage to stand when that video is playing?

6.    For marketing and promotional purposes, look for a photo opportunity moment by making sure that your organization’s logo/branding in incorporated into their presentation.

For your least experienced speakers, they may require an initial in office coaching session, well in advance of your conference, during which the producer will work on technique and delivery. In some cases, an iPad-based teleprompter may also be used to begin preparing your speakers for what they’ll experience during the conference. But for most presenters, multiple on-site and on-stage rehearsals will be sufficient.

As you know, presenting on stage is much more demanding than rehearsing in an office. And the producer will address these challenges with each of your speakers onsite. From bright stage lights shining in their eyes to hearing their own voices amplified throughout the room, the producer will be by their sides to instruct them every step of the way.

Veteran producers will also help refine your speaker’s pacing and stage positioning, taking full advantage of multiple down stage monitors so they appear to be addressing each section of the ballroom. As the allotted rehearsal time allows, they’ll continue to guide your speakers through multiple run-throughs of their presentations until they’re comfortable and confident with their onstage presence.

And finally, many producers will also act as stage managers during general sessions, which adds an additional layer of support. It’s during these last few minutes, just before your speakers hit the stage, that the final polish is applied to ensure that your speakers shine as bright as any star in the sky.

Thank you for your inquiry, and we wish you and your leadership team the very best of luck during your upcoming conference. Break a leg!

About the author: Jim Pringle is a senior producer at Fusion Productions, with more than 25 years of experience as a meetings, events and television producer.  He has coached hundreds of association and corporate speakers during his tenure with Fusion Productions

Jim Pringle coaches a keynote speaker at a fundraising gala.

Jim Pringle coaches a keynote speaker at a fundraising gala.

Augmented Reality in the Conference Space

Are you looking for an exciting way to engage your attendees while still bolstering your brand? Consider using Augmented Reality at your next conference to enhance all of your media from top to bottom. At Fusion, we took the opportunity at a recent conference to showcase several ways of doing this and integrated augmented reality into many of the pieces of conference media.


Leaders in the association world are always looking for new ways to showcase founding members, award recipients, and sponsors. We recently printed a series of posters for digitalNow’s Leaders of Distinction Program. Each poster was linked to a video of the leader making a statement about what lead them to their success. This was a perfect way to showcase this esteemed group and provided a platform for attendees to learn more about each one of the leaders.


Today, conference food and beverage is a personal experience. Attendees want to know what is being served, how it is being prepared, and where the ingredients were sourced. AR helped us meet their needs in an engaging way. We created a poster that showcased the Chef of the Orange County Convention Center where digitalNow 2019 was held. We used to a poster that when scanned with the SnapPress app launched a video each day of the Chef discussing what inspired the dining experience that day.  The menus themselves were then added so that the user can swipe between morning, mid-day and evening dining options.

Every attendee wears a badge, so why not add attendee value to it? On our badges, we added links to download the app, and an adapted agenda (via ICal) attendees could see what was coming up next by simply scanning their badge.


On the tradeshow floor, we used AR to provide added value to our sponsors. A video plays when the posters are scanned that showcase the company’s key features.  Next to the video are links to the sponsor’s website, social media accounts, key products, and contact information for getting in touch. All of these are triggered when the user scans the poster.  This is a great way to engage with sponsors on a more personal level and to give them greater visibility to your attendees.

We have developed interactive timelines with AR in celebration of associations anniversaries. The AR timelines guide users through the history of the association.

In one case, we created one large, printed timeline and linked to it. As viewers scanned the timeline, historical media pieces played on the viewers phone. Through video, audio, image galleries, social media walls, 3D objects, and much more, the timelines come alive before the user.

Your conference will come alive with Augmented Reality. AR can enhance nearly every facet of your conference brand and will allow attendees to experience your brand and your message in a new way.

The Meeting Professional’s New Title: Chief Creator of Awesome
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Millennials, technology, experiential, visual, relationships, ROI… these are all words that are directly impacting the role of the meeting and event professionals.

Today, meetings and events are about creating unexpected moments of surprise, surpassing expectations, and creating emotional loyalty between attendees and your organization. The challenge? Today’s innovations quickly become the norm or expectation for the next event. It is, as they say, a tough act to follow.

So, just as many CEOs now have the added role of  Chief Creative Officer, I propose a new title for meeting and event professionals… Chief Creator of Awesome!

How do you start to create an awesome meeting? To quote Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it is a tale as old as time – it starts with a story. Great stories engage our minds, touch our emotions, and expand our imaginations. Great stories guide the design and execution of your event.  

The good news? Great storytelling today is easily enhanced by present and emerging technology. So let’s look at some guideposts and technology available to you – the ”Chief Creator of Awesome.”



Design is more important today than at any other time. Clean and simple is better. Design should enhance your message – not clutter it.

Impactful meeting and event designs start with a deep understanding of our attendees’ and key stakeholders’ expectations and how they will interact with every aspect of your meeting. That’s why, when the Fusion team talks about design, we talk about creating a holistic experience from theme, to pre-event communications, to session room design and networking opportunities.

How do you start to develop a plan to outdo your last meeting? You start by reviewing each component of your event and ask how it fits into your story. How do you deliver value, and what stops do you have to pull out to make your event awesome from an experiential and engagement perspective.

Think Social  

In the space of ten years, we went from snail mail to email marketing. But let’s face it. With average open and click rates falling each day, email marketing is not the most efficient avenue to pursue when spreading your message to prospective attendees, especially if you are courting millennials. They won’t sift through their inboxes to find your information.

Let social media create the buzz, become the trusted source of marketing, and help you engage attendees and prospects via Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat. As you start to plan your social media communication strategy, consider these ideas:

Create a unique Twitter hashtag for each of your events. Engage your key speakers, sponsors, and attendees. "Friend" every person that registers and start a chat with them that includes your hashtag.

Add images from your photo stream to every Facebook post for enhanced engagement.

Build a year-long community through LinkedIn groups and continually post articles and daily updates.

Hold contests on instagram that encourage your followers to post photos or videos that promote your event starting from the moment they leave their house!

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality brings your pre-conference communications to life and helps you tell your story in an engaging way. Today’s AR is cost effective and allows you to use video, graphics, animations, and audio to bring your print mailings to life. Some recent examples of how Fusion has used AR in events:

  • Pre-meeting brochures can be tagged and brought to life with videos from keynotes or leadership promoting the meeting, their sessions, or what to expect.  

  • Award winners’ posters are tagged video clips so attendees can learn more about why they received the award, what their background was, and their thoughts on the future.

  • Menus of the day are brought to life by a video from the chef on what is being served, why, and how it was prepared.

  • Gamification was used by tagging every trade booth sign with a personal message or clue as well as video on the booth sponsor.  

3D Modeling & Virtual Reality

3-D modeling and virtual reality brings your story to life and helps “sell the idea” to senior stakeholders. Not only can you bring them into the “venue” but you can also create a virtual look at your meeting space, stage design, and lighting and even preview event videos and supporting media. You will not only be able to engage key event executives and sponsors, but you will also minimize surprises and look like the Chief Creator of Awesome that you are.

  • Make learning fun: Gamification enhanced by AR engages the attendees in learning while photo stream games with prizes feed the social media engine and provide lots of quality images.

  • Capture attendees’ imaginations and make learning real by having attendees experience customized virtual reality simulations that recreate the most demanding interpersonal challenges that professionals confront on the job every day.

  • Increase sponsor recognition, trade show traffic, real-time communication, ROI and engagement by using beacons, AR, and push notifications.

  • Connect and engage in the virtual world. Today you can live steam your sessions, hold webinars, integrate learning platforms, connect with peer groups, poll, archive content, and incorporate AI chat bots though new user-friendly platforms.

  • Get faster and more efficient by using facial registration and biometrics for registration and trade show engagement.

  • Reduce staff time and answer attendees’ questions consistently and quickly with chatbots.

  • Extend your production beyond the General Session with:

    • Streaming via social media

    • 3D, VR, and holographic experiences

    • Use gesturing technology to energize activities and build comradery

    • Employ animated scenics and video mapping to create unexpected environments

  • Photo sharing

  • Memorable take homes

  • Archiving your streaming video presentations and content

  • Continuing content and community through AI smart newsletters, LinkedIn groups, virtual world archives, meet ups and webinars

Technology has opened up a new world of possibilities for the meeting professional to extend the value of meetings, deliver engaging experiences, and allow us to move from site selection and F&B to Chief Creator of Awesome .

Have questions or suggestions? Contact us at or by clicking here

Hugh K. Lee

President Fusion Productions

Hugh Lee, President
The Fusion Productions AI-powered “smart newsletter” learns your content preferences based on what you choose to read, so keep reading and keep learning!

Keeping on top of relevant conventions and events news and critical trends is a major challenge for all of us in the industry. Sorting through hundreds of pages across key industry magazines and their advertorials to solve your “today” problem is a major time commitment and a strain on natural resources.

But what if we could “train” the Internet to deliver exactly what we want to read when we want to read it?  

Today that "what if” is a “can do!" Fusion has been working with to curate content that we think you will find useful. That content will be the basis of a twice per month newsletter. Equipped with an artificial intelligence engine, that “smart” newsletter has the ability to learn what you want to read – not what we think you want to read. Essentially, as you engage with the content in the newsletter, the AI engine will learn your preferences and suggest the most relevant articles to you.

We are excited to share this new technology and valuable resource with you! Not only will you train the AI to learn your preferences, we also hope that you can begin to imagine how this technology can bring value to your associations, chapters, and colleagues.


provided by

Hugh Lee, President
Fusion Supports NYSED Educational Efforts

The New York State Education Department successfully launched an eLearning program developed by Fusion. The program, “Creating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusive Schools”  was designed to provide tools to the school community to help all New York State Youth enjoy a safe and inclusive school environment regardless of their sexual orientation.