6. It’s not going to feel like a live convention no matter what you do — so don’t force it
Trump dragged his feet, but finally conceded that Republicans couldn’t hold an in-person convention due to the dangers of COVID-19 (he will, however, still accept the Republican nomination in North Carolina, where the convention was set to take place before Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he couldn’t guarantee a full-capacity event due to mounting local cases). But trying to pretend like the convention is something that it’s not only serves to exacerbate the weirdness of the times, not overcome it.
The Democrats learned this the hard way. Kamala Harris delivered her vice presidential acceptance speech from a gapingly empty auditorium; she was applauded at the end by a screen of Hollywood Squares-style faces set up beside the podium, which made all her waving and pointing (at whom?) even more awkward. While conventions normally conclude with applause and balloon drops, creativity was missing in this case (Joe Biden’s parking lot of honking cars the next night was a cute, if still not quite perfect, improvement).
The good news is, a virtual event opens up possibilities that never could have been executed at a normal convention — the Democrats’ roll call of states, with participants appearing from locations all around the country, was one particularly delightful improvement, for example.