Have you ever met an attendee of a simple live stream who was gone head over heels about the amazing experience he just witnessed? Not really, am I right? Or do you as a host prefer not to turn on videos of the audience to avoid seeing them yawning, playing on their phone or with their pet? Whether in person or virtual: Just because you cannot see your audience yawn doesn’t make the event any more exciting. Memorable events are created when you design them as a true experience for their attendees.
But what is an event experience actually? How does a normal activity turn into an experience for a participant?
An experience is the result of
- Sensory impressions which occur immediately during the event,
- Individual emotions which are triggered by the event,
- Collective emotions which arise from the event atmosphere and related rituals,
- Knowledge and skills which are acquired throughout the event,
- Direct interactions with other attendees and staff while at the event,
- Losing track of time and space thanks to the event design, OR
- The symbolic importance of attending the event for externals.
This means that event experience design considers all of the above factors (or as many as possible) to make sure the different elements are implemented and triggered respectively, thus, creating an experience. Depending on the overall goal of your event, you invent a story or happening which pursues the respective objective and leaves a positive, long-lasting memory.
Take your message or event content and ask yourself, what is the action you want your attendees to do afterwards? How should they feel, what should they think, how can they interact with your content to memorize it best possible? Blaring from the stage or playing the video via live stream without any possibility to interact, engage, etc. doesn’t work any longer.
Now, you cannot force an experience onto your audience, but you can set the right triggers that make the experience quite likely to occur. At in-person events, this could be influenced by choosing the right venue, designing the meeting rooms according to the session’s format, and creating excitement and suspense by adding dramatization to the agenda. For online events, you can translate these elements similarly, by choosing a suitable event platform (which functions and features do you need?), customizing virtual rooms according to your brand and target group, and making use of tools and software to spice up your stream with dramatic effects (as long as they really pay into your objective and are no overkill!). But even the simple addition of a chat to ask the moderator questions or for the moderator to engage with the audience by letting them participate in polls, Q&A, etc., you step up the virtual event experience design.
Know your target audience, what they enjoy, and respect their wishes to attract and excite them. If you present an unrelated laser show at the beginning of your event while your participants just want to learn about latest developments of the company, this will not help create a memorable event experience. The added elements have to be valuable to the audience or deliver content in a more pleasant way. By adding the option for a watch party to your stream which allows attendees to watch and comment the content together, the stream becomes more valuable because the attendee can actively engage with the content as well as with the other participants, and feel part of a group. Also, by stimulating more than just one or two senses (audio and visual), content becomes more memorable.
Added value increases the satisfaction with an event and therefore, the chances to make him or her a repeat attendee at future events. Recommendations will go up significantly as well when the event provides a relevant value to the individual that others in their peers may benefit from as well or which experience they want to share with their friends or colleagues. Make them feel proud being part of your event!
Event experience design does not only focus on the needs of the audience, but companies can benefit from the right design as well. At corporate events it can help to increase team spirit or knowledge of the employees by implementing elements which stimulate relationship-building or competence experiences. Know your event objective(s) and shape the event in your favor while at the same making it a pleasant experience for the attendees.
Implement experience design into your event by following these four easy steps:
- Identify your target audience’s needs
- Know about your company goals
- Create anticipation and emotional engagement
- Foster connection within the audience and with your company
In the end, experience design is about building valuable connections with the audience through event activations that get them excited about the product or company or whatever message you want to deliver. Think of your event like a show and what would excite your audience most. The higher the emotional influence, the more valuable the relationship you built with the individual. Make use of the tools that come with event experience design and create event experiences that facilitate unlimited human interactions.
Have an exciting day!