15 Event Format Ideas for 2024

Learn How to Choose the Ideal Event Format

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Two circles with images of a conference and attendees networking representing different event format ideas.

Can you imagine the difference it would have made to see Apple’s Scary Fast live and in person? The event would have missed its point: to showcase the video quality of the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the editing capabilities of the new Mac. Scary Fast shows that choosing the right event format is easy if you know what you want to achieve. 

Some highlights about Scary Fast.

If, like Apple, you want to choose the best format for your event, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will walk you through different event format ideas and their objectives to help you make the best decision.

How to choose an event format?

Choosing a format can seem daunting, but you just have to find the one that’s right for you. Use the following tips to get a clear idea of what you need first.

Have clear goals

Before we jump into the different event styles, you first have to know what you want to achieve with your event. Are you looking to inform, connect, promote new products, or gain potential clients? Each event format adapts best to specific needs. 

Cater to the community

Think about the community you want to have as attendees. Get to know their needs, interests, and inclinations; these will steer your decision regarding the event style, length and even venue. For instance, a webinar is well-suited for a tech-savvy crowd, whereas a workshop captivates those who enjoy hands-on participation. Brief events fit specialized topics, while extended ones accommodate more subjects and a diverse audience.

Find the ideal event length

Think carefully about the length of the event, as it affects attendance, engagement, and satisfaction. The ideal event length depends on many factors, including format, topic, audience, speakers, venue, and budget. Striking the right balance is crucial; long events can lead to fatigue and disengagement, while short events can leave attendees feeling rushed or unsatisfied. 

Draft an event agenda

A good way of choosing the ideal format and length of the event is to plan the agenda before deciding on the format. Prepare an outline of the topics you want to include and a list of possible speakers within your budget. Once you have an idea of the topics and the line-up, it will be easier to choose the official setup of the event.

Related: Event Planning Checklist Collection

15 event format ideas 

From small to large groups, virtual, hybrid, or face-to-face, these 15 event format ideas will give you an idea of what you can achieve with your event.

Unlock more event format ideas with The Event Professional’s Toolkit

This is what you’ll find inside:

  • 🌟 Event Ideas: From gamification to social media strategies.
  • 🔑 AI Toolkit: ChatGPT prompts and AI tools for event profs.
  • ✅ Checklists: Comprehensive guides for planning and execution.
  • 📊 Event KPIs & Statistics: Measure success accurately.
  • 💻 Event Tech Insights: Discover cutting-edge tools.
  • 📝 Ready-to-Use Templates: Simplify your planning.
  • 📈 Real-World Success Stories: Learn from top events.

Download more event format ideas

1. Unconference: Allow attendees to choose the topics and lead the sessions themselves.

➡ Goal: Promoting participant-driven knowledge sharing and engagement. 

2. Fishbowl Discussions: A few speakers sit in a circle surrounded by attendees, who can join the discussion by taking an empty chair in the circle.

➡ Goal: Foster open dialogue and inclusivity.

3. Panel Discussions: Invite experts to discuss a topic moderated by a host.

➡ Goal: Provide attendees with insights and diverse viewpoints.

4. Masterclasses: Offer in-depth, hands-on training sessions led by industry experts.

➡ Goal: Provide specialized knowledge.

5. Speed Networking: Similar to speed dating, but for making professional connections.

➡ Goal: Networking.

6. Roundtable Discussions: Small groups discuss specific topics, often rotating tables to meet new people.

➡ Goal: Networking and idea exchange. 

7. Talent Show: Allow attendees or staff to showcase their talents in a fun, relaxed setting.

➡ Goal: Community building, entertainment.

8. Interactive Theater: Incorporate live performances where attendees can participate.

➡ Goal: Entertainment, team building.

9. Virtual Reality (VR) Experience: Use VR headsets to immerse attendees in a virtual environment.

➡ Goal: Engagement and memorable experiences.

10. Augmented Reality (AR) Tours: Use AR to enhance physical spaces, adding a layer of digital information.

➡ Goal: Engagement and memorable experiences.

11. Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt that requires attendees to visit multiple areas or complete challenges.

➡ Goal: Engagement and community building.

12. Game Show: Mimic popular game shows but tailor the questions to your industry or event theme.

➡ Goal: Entertainment, gain brand knowledge.

13. Multi-Venue: Host the event at multiple locations simultaneously, connected via live stream.

➡ Goal: Community building in different locations

14. Storytelling Sessions: Invite attendees to share personal stories about the event theme.

➡ Goal: Foster connection and engagement.

15. Mystery Event: Keep the agenda a secret and surprise attendees with unexpected activities or speakers.

➡ Goal: Lead generation, entertainment.

Related: Social Media for Events, Your 2024 Guide

Virtual, hybrid, or in-person event format?

Choosing between virtual, hybrid, or face-to-face formats is also a key decision that shapes the experience for both organizers and participants. Each has unique advantages that make them ideal for different types of audiences. Take a look at some of the benefits:

Physical events

  • Suitable for various event types and sizes with the right venue and planning.
  • Facilitate face-to-face networking, leading to stronger relationships and less miscommunication.
  • Offer a more personal and enjoyable experience, creating memorable moments and interactions.
  • Attract sponsors with physical advertising and brand engagement, increasing the event’s effectiveness.

Virtual events

  • Easy to set up and run, making them a convenient choice for certain events.
  • Require fewer resources and are ideal for low-budget projects, saving on venue and travel costs.
  • Lower costs for attendees as they don’t have to travel, increasing participation.
  • Eliminate geographic restrictions and attract a global audience that can be reached from anywhere.
  • Provide advanced data analysis for improved future event planning. 

Hybrid Events

  • Combine elements of physical and virtual events for trade shows, lectures, and business meetings.
  • Ensure attendance in unforeseen circumstances by offering both face-to-face and virtual options.
  • Reduce environmental impact by reducing travel and equipment requirements.
  • Accommodate more attendees without exceeding venue limits, improving health and safety.
  • Record and provide access to all panels, maximizing participants’ engagement with content.