In this episode of the ProCast, we’re talking with Mark Shearon, the Founder and Managing Partner of Proscenium Events, about the future of live events. Mark is like one of those chess dudes who’s always 3-4 steps ahead of you on the board, and his insights are invaluable. So hit the download button, screw your headphones on tight, and get ready to take notes.
Mark has spent the last 30+ years thinking about his clients, opportunities, and solutions. He has a way of strategizing with brands that cuts right to the heart of the issue. He can then find innovative and cutting-edge solutions that bring brands to life in the live, virtual and hybrid arenas.
He has worked with the world's best-performing brands on some of their most important communication and marketing programs. These include Qualcomm, Univision, Heineken, Harley-Davidson, T-Mobile, Facebook, SAP, American Express, Walmart, Ford, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Lincoln. He has worked globally and on both sides of the pond in London and New York.
Hosted and Written by Jeremy Dobrish
Produced by Bethany Potter
Theme Music by Mike Mancini
Logo design by Shraddha Maharjan
Special thanks to Dossie McCraw
WHAT WILL EVENTS LOOK LIKE IN 2026?
By Jeremy Dobrish
In Stephen King’s novel 11/23/63, the protagonist goes back in time and is able to make money by betting on sporting events where he knows who will win. If we could accurately predict the future, just think of all the cool stuff we could do. But in the absence of some sort of time machine, our best bet to know what will happen is to rely on experts who have their finger on the pulse of where the world is going.
When it comes to the Live Events industry, nobody fits that bill better than the Founder and Managing Partner of Proscenium, Mark Shearon. In fact, in 2016, Mark wrote an article, link above, in which he predicted what the live events industry would be like in 5 years. In other words – today.
I talked to Mark recently for Proscenium’s ProCast to revisit his predictions from that article, and look ahead to what the future holds for our industry.
THE THREE Cs
The main point of his 2016 article was that “convenience, customization, and curation” would drive the innovations of the future. Not only has that turned out to be true, but Mark feels the pandemic has actually accelerated these trends.
Convenience means attendees having all the information they need readily and seamlessly accessible to them at the time then need it.
Curation is when organizers drive content to attendees via their phone, that they know the attendee is interested in.
Customization occurs when attendees take all of that, and individualize it specifically for themselves.
The goal for event producers, in some sense, is to deliver the same level of convenience, curation and customization to attendees on-site that they are used to getting at home.
A SUPERCOMPUTER IN YOUR POCKET
In the article, Mark laid out a day or two in the life of a conference attendee. They check into their hotel for example, using their phone, and then use it to unlock their door. In 2016 that wasn’t possible. Today, it certainly is. And event apps are doing all sorts of things with NFC and location-based tracking.
Phones have become so ubiquitous, Mark thinks the days of asking people to put their phones away are long gone. Now, during General Sessions, we embrace them, and use them to become part of the messaging strategy and enhance the experience.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO PAUSE
I asked Mark where this is all heading in the next five years. He thinks these trends will continue to become more prevalent. The pandemic, however, has caused things to fall behind. A lot of ideas for staging, and screens, and automation come from the concert industry. But with major acts like U2 and Lady Gaga sidelined along with everything else, that innovation has stalled. The good news, though, is that these artists have had a lot of time (that they may not usually get) to think and come up with new, bold ideas. Needless to say, Mark is excited to see what large-scale tours will look like as we start opening up again.
This pause will have other effects on the live event industry as well. There are big events that have wanted to change things up, but haven’t been able to because they’re like a monster that has to keep going. Well, now they’ve had some time to re-invent themselves.
“Maybe there are instead of a 125,000 people going to the actual event, which is really difficult to make it feel personal, maybe only 25,000 go, but then 250,000 people actually have this really amazing experience digitally and online.”
Mark is bullish on a number of other technologies as well: 4K, 8K, mixed reality, extended reality, holograms. All of these will become more and more prevalent.
While Mark doesn’t think everyone will be able to utilize all these technologies immediately, he does see a risk in not keeping up. As audiences come to expect and demand the same level of technology they are used to in other areas of their lives, event producers will ultimately be left behind if they're not thinking of incorporating what they can afford into their live events.
I loved talking to Mark about the past future, and future future, of live events. If you want to hear my full conversation with Mark, you can listen on this page, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to talk to Mark about the future of your live event, he’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.