The latest EventMB report, 10 Event trends for 2021, has a lot of unsurprising trends for next year – heightened attention on safety, and the growth of virtual and hybrid events, for example. But one intriguing prediction is audio-only events.

This idea was sparked by Clubhouse, a new social media app that is causing a stir. Users can start or join existing conversations, on any topic. There are no visuals, and when the conversation is over it disappears forever.

The app is still in its beta phase with only 3 500 users testing it out. Unusually, these testers include A-list celebrities such as Oprah, Ashton Kutcher and Chris Rock, as well as tech industry movers, entrepreneurs and even a few politicians. This probably accounts for some of its exclusive appeal! But users are responding positively to it and being able to engage in this way, saying it creates more authentic conversations and is a refreshing new way to connect.

“Listening as opposed to watching stimulates a part of the brain that makes us visualize concepts. This is a completely different experience from having the event on a desktop window.”

The trend report posits that Zoom fatigue and staring at a screen are turning virtual delegates off. Offering an audio-only option to listen in could entice them back. Furthermore, “listening as opposed to watching stimulates a part of the brain that makes us visualize concepts. This is a completely different experience from having the event on a desktop window while attendees are multitasking.”

There are a few ideas on how an event planner could approach this. One is to allow delegates the option to listen in with an audio-only stream, while still making the full AV event available to those who prefer it. This would require some careful consideration to ensure that the event doesn’t rely heavily on visual elements, which would alienate your audio audience.

Another idea is to offer event podcasts. You could take content from an event you have done and repackage is as a podcast to reach a wider audience. Or you could look at creating podcasts in addition to your events, with an opportunity for speaker cross overs and cross promotion.

Given the prominence we tend to give to the visuals of events, it will be interesting to see if this takes off. But if nothing else, it does offer another way to bring event attendees together, safely, during the current pandemic.

To download 10 Event trends for 2021, click here.