Professor, Production & Staging
School of Hospitality, Conestoga College
Melissa Deslauriers, Professor, Production & Staging, School of Hospitality, Conestoga College, Ontario, Canada, provided us with her thoughts on the changing role of live events based on her more than 25 years of experience.
Considering the rise of digital communities and social media, how has the role of live event changed?
The role of the live event has changed. The live event is most often an extension of something else, namely an organization’s brand. Therefore the event must be a true representation and extension of the brand. Whatever happens at an event can go viral at a moment’s notice. You need to be very aware of that and ensure the event is meeting the original overall objectives.
What does it mean to be a co-creator of experiences?
It means you are a part of a larger team effort. You are invested in the end result as much as your client.
How do you shift a client’s (or anyone else’s) focus from the gear to the experience?
Get to the root of the event. Why is it happening, what are the end goals/objectives? You do this by being genuinely interested. Ask the right questions and above all … listen. Really listen to the answers and let the answer guide you to the best solutions. My background is in communications, and I have always been curious.
While I’ve spent years in sales roles, I believe I was successful because I wasn’t simply selling technology, I was finding solutions for challenges. And there were times when I didn’t have the solution, yet could point someone in the right direction, allowing them to be successful.
What skills and qualities are must-haves when putting together an AV team for an event?
Attitude is everything. Communication is key. Having a team with a great “can-do” attitude that can clearly communicate what needs to be done will ensure no matter what happens, good, and or ugly, it will all work out in the end. Those are the folks I want to spend my time with.
As a college professor, what is the most important lesson you hope to teach your students?
I actually have a slide I use in my class presentations and it is titled advice to the newly graduated self. The advice is as follows: Be Kind, Be Adventurous, Be Helpful, Be Curious, and never stop learning.
Join Deslauriers for an upcoming webinar: Practical Tips for Improving Your Event Design for the Best Corporate Live Experience on Thursday, August 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
About Melissa Deslauriers
With more than 25 years in the live events industry, Deslauriers uses this knowledge to educate the planners of tomorrow as Professor, School of Hospitality in the Event Management Program, Conestoga College. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations, and believes communication is at the core of every great event. Technology is a wonderful tool, if it supports your end goal, and provides a great experience. She has previously held roles with Bespoke Audio Visual, members of the RSN Network, as Director Sales & Marketing, and Freeman Audio Visual Canada as Manager, Client Solutions Group. Deslauriers was responsible for driving revenues, establishing brand recognition, and assisting clients in reaching their event objectives. Based in Ontario, Canada, she worked on local, national, and international events for such clients as Domino’s, The United Steelworkers, Lions Club International, Amway International, #MoveTheDial, and the Canadian government.