Why Experiential Interviews are Paving the Way for Event Keynotes


Traditionally, when people think of a celebrity interview, they imagine two people sitting together, a journalist asking the questions, the celebrity answering, and that’s it. But today, interview formats are getting more and more creative, especially in a world where the general public’s attention span is dwindling fast (Microsoft says most people tune out after just 8 seconds). Whether it’s answering questions while eating super hot wings, at home in a lightning round, or in the car in between karaoke, celebrity interviews are going beyond the norm.

As interview formats go more experiential, we predict event keynotes will follow suit, becoming more interactive, more engaging, and altogether more innovative. So, let’s take a deep dive into some fun experiential celebrity interviews and all of the ways we predict they might shape event keynotes in the future.
Hot Ones Makes Interviews a Bit Spicier

Here’s the pitch: an interview where the interviewer AND interviewee chow down on spicy chicken wings, each wing hotter than the last. In between bites, the host asks their subject ever more complicated questions about their work, life, fave Instagram posts, anything. That show? It’s called Hot Ones and it’s become a massive success, amassing millions of views on YouTube (on its host channel First We Feast) with host Sean Evans interviewing tons of A-List celebrities including Paul Rudd, Scarlett Johansson, Chrissy Teigen, and many more.

While the premise of the show may sound unconventional, it’s global popularity signals an important shift in the way viewers want to take in content. By adding a new element into the mix — in this case hot wings — the interview goes from expected to unexpected, making it more of an experience, rather than just a dialogue between two people. “Will the wings be too spicy?” “Will they still be able to answer the questions?” “Where can I buy those hot sauces?” “I knew I loved so-and-so, they ate those wings like a champ!” These are all things viewers may say to themselves while watching. What’s important to take away here is that Hot Ones experiential celebrity interviews to create memorable moments, inviting viewers into the experience (since the hot sauces are all available to purchase, viewers can essentially eat along with Sean and his guests) and pushing beyond a typical format, going experiential.

What else makes this format so successful? It’s authenticity. When you combine a genuinely nice host with a subject whose guard is down (yay hot sauce), it produces a real experience. And that’s what people connect with.

“Hot Ones understands that authentic interviews move the needle, and they know the boundaries to facilitate that value. A show, a guest, 30 minutes, 10 questions, increasingly hot wings. That’s it,” notes Fast Company. “If I see 10 seconds of one episode, I know exactly what to expect from every other episode. I know what’s going to happen, which lets me get excited about the parts of the show where I don’t know what’ll happen. I know they’ll eat hot wings. I don’t know how they’ll react. I know it’ll be authentic. The clarity of the boundaries allows me to focus on the magic.”

Hot Ones shows that experiential celebrity interviews are changing the game, bringing out the best in what viewers want to see. We know that authenticity, interaction, and a new format are all keys to success. Which brings us to the focal point, how can experiential celebrity interviews like Hot Ones influence event keynotes? And what are some examples of event keynotes already going experiential? Let’s take a look.

The Power of Trying Something New

If Hot Ones and experiential celebrity interviews can teach us anything, it’s that viewers — or in our case, event attendees — want a unique experience. In fact, according to our own research, 50% of attendees feel new learning formats will strengthen event content. So it comes as no surprise that event keynotes are the perfect platform to go experiential and try new ways to engage attendees and create memorable moments.

Where are good places to start when it comes to developing an experiential keynote? Consider different types of technology, going more interactive, and taking more steps to involve attendees and make them feel like they’re a direct participant. Hint - a small but effective way to create a bigger impact with your keynote is 360 staging.

“It feels more intimate and if you choose your speaker right it is far more memorable,” notes Event Manager Blog. Plus, it’s an excellent idea to promote discussion and free-thinking.”

Another small but meaningful way to go outside of the norm with your keynote? Encourage attendees to participate in a way that’s fun, unintimidating, and maybe even with some swag! If the keynote includes a Q&A, make it playful and break the ice.

“[Add] fun elements to your interactive sessions with things like throwable microphones, giant foam fingers and noisemakers for when someone answers a question correctly,” says Marketing Insider Group. “These elements will encourage your participants to let their voices be heard in a playful way.”

And to bring it back around to experiential celebrity interviews and technology, perhaps look to a hit show like Carpool Karaoke for inspiration! If you’re able, use technology to live broadcast your keynote interview from the car and then head to the venue, “pulling up to” the stage and continuing from there.

Other ideas? Think “mind-reading”, customized keynotes complete with fun challenges that cater directly to your audience, or even magic shows! The possibilities are endless. Not only do these ideas heighten engagement, they help attendees and speakers let their guard down, which is the perfect way to breed authenticity.

Using Technology to Boost Your Keynote

When it comes to making your event’s keynote more experiential, there are a ton of ways to create an engaging experience that truly goes beyond the norm. At CES 2018, Intel takes its keynote a step further, incorporating, dance, technology, lights, and spectacle into an incredible pre-keynote show prior to its CEO Brian Krzanich addresses the audience. The highlights? 100 mini-drones that “dance” in unison, an opening act featuring virtual instruments, a self-driving car, and so much more.

Gadgets 360 sums up part of the experience: “Just before Krzanich took the stage to address the members of the press, we witnessed quite a spectacle where musicians played on 'invisible' instruments, using special smart gloves and Intel's RealSense camera to capture the precise movement of the musician's hand gestures and finger movements to generate the desired musical notes. We also had synchronised Intel Shooting Star quadcopter drones fly around and light up to the tune of the song and artificial intelligence (AI) musicians learnt musical notes from their human counterpart in real time, which used Intel's Movidius neural compute engine.”

A keynote address that gives attendees a look at its technology or ideas for the future in a pre-show that’s entertaining, informative, and definitely outside the norm? Truly a way to get people talking and thinking about your keynote long after the event has wrapped.

It also creates an experience and a memorable event, similar to experiential celebrity interviews. By going the experiential route with this keynote and showcasing technology in the form of a show, attendees get a true visual of what a brand’s keynote speaker is sharing. Plus, it’s entertaining.

Exhibiting at trade shows gives businesses the opportunity to connect with key decision makers and consumers, depending on your target audience. But first, you have to get them there. The bonus is on event marketers to create interactive, memorable, sensorial multisensory trade show experiences that not only lure attendees in, but also keep them engaged. Now that’s something to dwell on.


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Posted by Dyan Cornacchio | Request as a Speaker

Social media and creative writing connoisseur. Obsessed with my golden retriever, pop culture, and pizza. Nothing makes me happier than being home on LI, relaxing at the beach with my family.