My Grown-Up Christmas List for Digital Events


Driving in the car during the holiday season, I love it when Amy Grant’s “Grown-Up Christmas List” comes on the radio. Here’s what Ms. Grant wishes for in her song:

“No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.”

Sounds about right to me. Now, I’d like to provide a list of my own. It’s certainly not as noble as Ms. Grant’s list. Mine is a grown-up Christmas list for digital events.

A User Experience That’s More Whole

Ms. Grant sings, “no more lives torn apart.” My corresponding lyric would be “no more user experiences torn apart (by new browser windows).” Think of it this way: the more browser instances you see “popping up” in a digital event, the less cohesive the user experience. We need to deliver better and more integrated experiences. How often does Facebook launch a new browser window? Never.

A Consistent User Experience Across Platforms

Ms. Grant hopes “that wars would never start.” Well, we’ll always have “platform wars” (e.g. iOS vs. Android). And as digital event platforms “widen” to meet a growing array of platforms, my wish is that the user experience remains consistent across all of them. My iPhone and Android experiences ought to be the same. And to the extent possible, my iPhone experience should resemble what I see on the desktop. Is that HTML5 I see under the tree?

Driving Adoption by Meeting Expectations

Ms. Grant hopes that “time would heal all hearts.” Digital events have their share of naysayers, who are not convinced on the “return on investment” (ROI). For these naysayers, my wish is that “baby steps” are taken in 2012. Throw ROI out the window for now. Make a small bet and see if digital events (at a small scale) generate a Return On Expectations (ROE). The healing process here is about finding ROE first, then delivering on the ROI as you progressively scale up your bets.

More Discovery and Connecting of People

Ms. Grant hopes that “everyone would have a friend.” Most of us login to a digital event with no pre-existing friends (at that same event). My wish is that digital event platforms prove more effective in helping us discover and find new “connections” (people) as a “side effect” of attending the event. We need to reproduce the serendipity of meeting others at face-to-face events, online.

More Focus on the Attendee Experience

While Ms. Grant sings, “and right would always win,” I shout, “the attendee must always win.” My wish is that digital event planners always put the attendee first – they come before the speakers and the sponsors. Deliver them what they want and need – and you will always win. And they will, too.

Keeping the Lights On (Event Communities)

Ms. Grant sings, “and love would never end,” while I sing, “events don’t need to end.” With digital events, there are no walls to tear down and no stands to ship back to your vendor. Why, then, do so many digital event planners “abandon” the digital event once the schedule of sessions has concluded? Digital events can and should sustain “365 communities.” Attendees stay engaged with one another until the next scheduled activity (when they continue to engage, of course).


Thanks, Amy Grant, for the wonderful song. My hope is that your wish list comes true for all of us. Secondarily, let’s see if my digital event wish list comes true in 2012.

To all of you out there, thanks for reading. And, Happy Holidays.

2 Responses to My Grown-Up Christmas List for Digital Events

  1. Jen says:

    Please take a look at my cover! 🙂

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