How to Turn Your Event Into an Experience

Covid-19 has put a stop to events for now, but that pause has given event designers some breathing space to plan for future events in more creative ways. Once people are able to travel and meet-up again without restriction (and of course we don't know when that will be), how can we ensure attendees get as much as possible out of the event? After all, if they leave your event satisfied, they're likely to book your next one.

Event design has come a long way in the last ten years or so. Event organizers have realised that it's not enough just to bring people together and hope something magical happens. If an event is simply relying on the notion that everyone is there purely to network, they're twenty years behind in their thinking. Sure, there is a networking aspect to events (undeniably), but attendees also want to learn new tricks, feel inspired, get some new insights on the industry sector they're in.

An event needs a narrative. Quite often, the narrative is the classic one of a problem an industry faces, and the possible solutions for that problem. Problems often bring about opportunities, and an event designer can research speakers who can offer solutions in an industry sector that - on the face of it - seems to be lacking in opportunities.

Events that do have a networking aspect to them should lean more toward informality so that in the short space of time everybody is together, attendees are more inclined to talk to each other. The event should fire them up! This is where you have to be careful who you choose as speakers. You should choose speakers who are very close to the industry, and are willing to address the problems that all the attendees know about and want answers (or possible answers) to. What they don't want is someone waffling on for an hour delivering platitudes and thanking people in the first 15 minutes of their talk, and saying not much at all. Informality combined with expertise produces authenticity. Someone like Steve Jobs is a fine example of a wonderful mix of informality, expertise and authenticity. In every industry, there are people like this - who are passionate about the industry they belong to, who speak directly and realistically about the daily challenges of being in the industry - these are the speakers that your attendees want to listen to. If you have inspiring speakers, you can guarantee that your attendees will have a lot to talk about between themselves.

Regarding the event layout and facilities, make sure you cater to all tastes. This includes offering vegetarian and vegan meals. At many events, I've noticed that they've essentially created a "one size fits all" buffet, and I've noticed individuals browsing the food offerings and adding nothing to their plate. Make sure everyone is catered to!

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