It’s one thing to disagree with someone about their political beliefs over the internet. It’s another to have that conversation in person — especially in today’s polarized political climate.

That’s why events are such a powerful way to bring people from opposite ends of the political spectrum together and foster a safe space for dialogue. Through training, workshops, panels, and more, your next event has the potential to help build empathy for differences in perspective.

Here’s how to host an event that bridges the political divide by having the right tools and team.

Build out your event staff

Despite what you may think, you don’t need a large group of people to run a successful event, political or otherwise. You just need to have the right roles filled with the right people, so your team can move quickly and confidently as you plan and promote your event.

Take Unrig Summit, a three-day conference created by RepresentUs co-founder Josh Silver to bring liberals and conservatives together for reform training. The event was launched with just one full-time employee, with usually fewer than 10 people working on it at any capacity.

While it might not be feasible for your event to run on one dedicated team member’s shoulders, you do need at least two of the following core team members on the clock year-round. Otherwise, you might find yourself buried in work without any bandwidth to focus on strategy.

Your core team roles shortlist:

  • Event promotion/marketing manager: This is the person responsible for marketing, PR, and outreach.
  • Operations/general manager: The GM works the nuts and bolts of the event, is in charge of budget, and decides which tools and technology to invest in.
  • Assistant/coordinator: Your coordinator should handle the day-to-day tasks, like filling purchase orders, scheduling meetings, and ordering supplies.

Choose a ticketing and registration partner

You probably noticed that the core team list above didn’t include customer service or tech support. That’s because the right ticketing and registration partner should handle all that for you. 

For example, Eventbrite offers a full-service staffing team for skeleton teams looking to scale up or down quickly with verified freelancers. That way, you don’t have to commit to long-term investments or worry whether your staffing needs will be met when it counts most.

Unrig’s Stephanie Slysz says Eventbrite is like an extension of their team. “They take the hassle out of refunds, streamline the ticketing process, and provide customer support,” she says. “It was like we had a whole mini-team of people supporting us.”

How to choose your next ticketing and registration partner:

  • Define your must-haves (like 100% mobile optimization or real-time data access)
  • Decide what you want in a partner (reliability, reputation, security, etc.)
  • Do your due diligence and calculate your return on investment (ROI)

Create a dynamic ticket or registration strategy

Bringing together people with diverse opinions makes it almost impossible to offer a one-size-fits-all agenda. Letting people build their own experience can help you give attendees a custom path, which makes managing ticketing with a reliable partner even more important.

For example, Unrig Summit decided to lean on Eventbrite’s flexible ticketing solution to give attendees exactly what they wanted. They had received attendee feedback requesting more panelist discussions, as well as more skill-building and networking opportunities, so they decided to let people buy tickets to just the elements they wanted to attend. 

In 2019, attendees interested in attending Unrigged Live! — an inspiring evening of live music, stand-up comedy, and hosted by actors Jennifer Lawrence and Ed Helms — were now able to purchase a ticket separately. The team was also able to offer discounted tickets to speakers and special guests that were hidden from the public. 

Skip the printed materials

With a smartphone in almost every person’s hand nowadays, it makes sense to embrace event technology like mobile apps that can help you deliver an even better experience for attendees. Especially if one of the main purposes of your event is to help people build their networks.

“We mainly relied on the app for our programming, and communicating to our attendees, as we didn’t really print schedules,” says Mei Seva, a multimedia producer at RepresentUs who worked on Unrig. “Going digital with accurate information updated in real time was a big plus.”

How to encourage engagement with your event app:

  • Include a link to download the event app on your event page
  • Encourage attendees to download the app through email and social media
  • Ask speakers, presenters, and sponsors to promote the app
  • Offer an incentive for attendees who engage the most in the app

Learn how one event is reforming democracy

RepresentUs originally planned to hold the Unrig Summit every other year, but the success of its first summit in New Orleans changed that plan. Discover how Unrig Summit has revised its growth strategy to transform into a yearly affair in the full case study.

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