What did the speaker just say? Man, someone is breathing heavily in their mic. And who listens to this event via their speakers, giving us this annoying echo feedback? I really cannot focus on the actual event content. Why is his voice so quiet? Ok, I give up… And like this you just lost one of your valuable attendees. The nightmare of any virtual event host, but it is so easy losing your audience at online events. The exit is only one click away!
Live events as well as virtual conferences are sensory experiences. And when some of our senses are not stimulated at online events, the noise plays an even more important role. One of the biggest characteristics of human beings is that when we don’t like something, we want to get rid of or away from it. In the online world this means we tune out, switch the annoyance off and move on to another thing. And this doesn’t even need a lot of effort by ourselves, it happens automatically, an unconscious human reaction.
Balance disorganized sound and don’t forget unconscious listening
Unpleasant white noise or other disturbing sounds have a huge impact on your perceived event quality. Do you enjoy watching a movie in the cinema when a group of people keeps talking next to you? I certainly don’t! The same applies for virtual events which often still only appeal to the audio and visual senses of the attendee. Making these two senses even faster irritated or bored or overwhelmed. Or if not stimulated enough, they may even lose against external factors which influence a human’s other senses and distract them from your content. Therefore, it is crucial to attach quality sound the respective importance and remove accidental, unpleasant, and disengaging audio from your event.
We are in charge to make our event attendees touch, feel, taste, smell, and hear our event and therefore, shape the experience they have while attending our conference. It lies in our hands how they feel about the event by influencing how they perceive it. And this does not only include professional audio quality of speakers but also the unconscious ‘noise’ an attendee hears. I have been in virtual meeting rooms with no background music and the silent waiting time in the beginning until everyone is logged in makes you feel stiff and awkward, already feeling slightly disconnecting from the meeting. However, when you enter a meeting room with a very quiet background melody, you may not notice it while people are talking, but once there is a big silence coming over the room (e. g. while waiting for questions) the music fills the gap and doesn’t make it too awkward. Finding a good balance between organized and disorganized sound helps keeping the audience engaged and tuned in. I swear I had clients whose on-hold music was so uplifting, I was always hoping they wouldn’t answer too soon so I could enjoy listening to their melody a little longer.
What should your event sound like?
I’m sure almost all of you have a logo designed for your event to brand it. And even if you use your company logo, it is still branding for the attendees’ eyes. So, why not design a sound to provide branding for their ears? Make it part of your new event marketing strategy. While everyone can choose their favorite ringtone, it is up to you how your audience will feel when listening to your event. What does your audio experience sound like?
You could start by creating your own event or company jingle. Podcasts are a common example for individual intro/outro music, and you may choose from a list of available, pre-designed jingles, or hire a composer to design your unique melody. With this, your event or all your corporate events will be recognizable immediately under your sonic ID.
Make sound guide your event audience
While the spoken word may not be understood everywhere, sound and music give you an international language at hand, which is understood (almost) everywhere creating the same or at least similar emotions. Get your own shortcut to your customers’ minds by branding your event sound. I bet you can tell within a second into Netflix’s iconic single drum note signature that you immediately know, first of all, what you are tuning into, but at the same you remember some fun late-night binge-watching sessions with your friends or family. You immediately feel excited and emotional, and Netflix just got your choices, content, and ears branded. Easy as that!
Make audio your friend and improve the sound quality of your next event. Using sound strategically helps you get through to your audience, makes your message be heard in their busy days, and creates a conscious connection despite any noise around them. As mentioned above, melodies can be used to create an uplifting feeling while waiting for new content. But sounds can also influence the speed of visual search or provide a call to action.
Choose different audio cues to direct your audience. It’s the same like playing the gong once the coffee break is over. You can educate your attendees via sounds and keep them tuned into what will happen next. Steer the emotions before your event with your own music playlist, and start to get them in the mood you want to before the opening. It will make waiting time so much more pleasant and reduce drop-out rates (“Just checking my emails quickly…”) when you provide your audience an organized soundscape. Other examples for useful audio cues are any call to action throughout the event, public announcements, or even highlighting whether the next point on the agenda is a panel discussion or breakout session.
Once you created your event sound, you can make it the sonic ID. Change the logo, venue, or menu every year, but keep the sonic experience the same! It will feel right. And “feelings are facts”, aren’t they?
What does your event sound like? Share it or the emotions you are targeting with the melody below. We’d love to hear from you.
Have a melodious day!