Do you have as much trouble with these three words as I do?
I mean, what does ‘the new normal’ even mean? I’ve used the phrase often enough, goodness knows, if only because it’s hard to find a substitute that rings true. But with restrictions finally lifting (well, mostly), and live events making a return to planning schedules and calendars across the country, I thought I’d share my personal thoughts on just what it means for my own industry and, at least in part, for others’, too.
And I’ll try and keep it short!
It means something different to everyone
No shocker there, but with industries and sectors affected in wildly different ways these last couple of years, your perspective on the ‘new normal’ depends very much on how things have gone for you during the pandemic.
When talking to clients, whether they’re in tech, finance or any other sector, our first job is to understand how an event and the impact that flows from it might help them overcome whatever particular challenges the pandemic has presented them with. These conversations only make the brief sharper and help clients trust us even more, because we listen.
There are many who don’t have a clue yet what it means
There has simply been too much disruption – too much upheaval, uncertainty, change and even anxiety – to know yet exactly what’s in store for society, let alone a particular industry, especially as many work practices have yet to settle in the medium to long term (hybrid working, anyone?).
And you know what? That’s okay. If nothing else, the last two years have taught us that no-one has all the answers.
Certainly, some sectors have emerged well able to plan for the future, but equally, there are others who are feeling their way forwards with some trepidation. And again, that’s okay.
Lesson? Get support. Use your network. Build your knowledge. Businesses champion each other, and many are happy to share advice and tips. Personally Speaking completely rebranded during the pandemic and did valuable work exploring and defining our values and deepening our relationship with clients and speakers alike. And we couldn’t have done it without (a) government support; (b) sage advice from some of our speakers; and (c) coming together – yes, over Zoom, but occasionally in person – to brainstorm and have a laugh. Bonding and connection really help you focus on your shared purpose, it turns out!
More than ever, it really matters that you care and take care
The second half of March 2020 was a horror show for everyone in the events industry. Foolishly, we thought things would return in a few months (ah, the joys of hindsight). But if nothing else, the last two years have shown us that relationships matter. Trust matters. Care matters.
I don’t have much fondness for the word pivot as a description of how we’ve all had to change how we do things. I think pirouette is probably more accurate. Just keep on turning, keep the momentum going. Those muscles you’re using – they’ll get stronger with practice.
The fuel for that momentum we’ve experienced has been the hard work and persistence of my team, and the trust, care and relationships we’ve nurtured with clients, perhaps especially our regulars. When we said, ‘Oh, try hybrid, try online,’ they did. They’ve been brave in the storm. And speakers were up for it too. Their commitment and sheer enthusiasm have lifted us. And importantly, the events proved to be the success our clients were hoping for.
Connection: our new normal? I hope so
Lesson? People really are amazing. Resourceful, creative, patient, courageous, tenacious, adaptable. For me, that’s the best ‘new normal’ you could hope for: a reaffirmed faith in the wonder of the human mind, heart and spirit. Here’s hoping that connection – to ourselves, to each other, to our sense of purpose – becomes the norm.