As the process of conceiving an event starts, no matter what kind of event it is, there’s a simple step any event planner can take to amp up the RoI of that event, no matter how that return is defined. This one mental exercise can improve the impact your event has on its audience/guests enormously as long as you do it at the very beginning of the planning process.
Think like someone attending your event.
That might sound like a no-brainer, a triviality that is part and parcel of planning every event, but you’d be amazed at how many event planners and event designers focus their events entirely on the agenda of their client — the family or group putting on the event. In the end, though, the single factor that determines the success of an event isn’t the agenda…it’s the impact that the event had on the attendees.
Who Are Your Attendees?
What do your attendees, on average, do all day? What kind of media do they consume? What are their typical dilemmas? What makes them feel comfortable? Excited? Weary? Get into the heads of your ‘target guest,’ and implement the Golden Rule: treat them the way you would want to be treated in their shoes. If you’re planning a charity dinner, ask yourself how you would like to be plied for donations. Go negative on yourself, too — if you’re planning a team-building exercise, ask yourself what corny, overused jokes would make you wince.
There are four major interactions with each event that are the primary opportunities to build emotion in your attendees:
- The Invitation: Is your invitation dramatic? Creative? Romantic? Predictable? Threatening? Spastic?
- The Arrival: When you open the door to the venue, what do the smells, sights, sounds, and gut-level ambiance call to mind? What is the attitude of the person that first greets you?
- The Big Moment: When the Big Moment of the event goes down, whether it’s the bride and groom exchanging vows or Lewis Black being announced as the secret Special Guest, how does it come off?
- The Final Hurrah: As the guests leave, how do they feel? Are they relieved that it’s finally over? Looking for excuses to linger? Just kind of meh?
Each of these four moments, ideally, will be planned out before the event begins — and while no event ever goes exactly as planned, having those plans in place will ensure that your event has an impact on your attendees. Think about those moments from the perspective of your attendees, and design them to maximize emotion.
When you come at an event from the perspective of a guest, you naturally design an event that you would want to be a part of — and unless you’re an extremely unusual individual, chances are most of your actual attendees will want to be a part of it, too.