When designing, planning, marketing, or running an event, don't limit yourself to doing the same things repeatedly. As an event professional, you have the opportunity to experiment with and enhance the quality of your events.
No doubt, the easiest thing to do is set up concrete planning parameters you can use for different events and use the same strategies and actions over and over again, eliminating the stress and saving time. But by doing this, you’ll not only deprive yourself from the possibility of evolving as an event manager, you also won’t be able to keep up with the attendees’ needs and demands.
According to Anton Shone and Bryn Parry, apart from learning, exploration, and fulfilment of ambitions, people attend events because they are seeking new experiences. The event management experts emphasize, "Even events that happen annually, in the same place and at the same time of year, may not be exact replicas of what has gone on before", because of the changes planners decide to apply.
However, all these changes have to focus on improving the overall event experience. Whatever you decide to do, always think how it will affect your guests. To get started, here are some of the event elements you can experiment with to enhance your attendees’ feelings and overall experience.
The tone of the mailing campaign
Are you detached and official, or friendly and funny? How do you want to communicate about your event? Don’t limit yourself to the usual emails and messages to announce the meeting activities.
Each time you market a new event, design a different campaign by experimenting with new elements or features to improve the communication. For example, instead of sending the same boring message to your potential attendees about the date and the topic of the event every time, build a brand-new email around their needs and benefits, wrapping it in a friendly, brief, and easy-to-read text.
The venue set up and the meeting design
As Shone and Bryn note, "Getting everything in place for an event is not only a matter of the behind-the-scenes efforts in terms of logistics, organization, preparation, layout and design; it is also crucial to the ambience and atmosphere that will be created and experienced by the participants, visitors or guests."
The type of venue can greatly affect the ambience and overall experience. For example, although theatre-style rooms accommodate a large crowd, they may cause your guests to interact less and exhibit more passive behavior. Instead, café or U-format seating will allow your guests to interact and participate more.
Don’t limit yourself to traditional space settings. Experiment with new ideas and create an ambience that will thrill your attendees.
The interaction of your attendees
People don’t come to your events only to learn - they want to interact with other people and build relevant connections that will help them boost their projects or businesses. Thus, networking is a perfect context for experimentation. Try different icebreaker games or a different networking setup to make people feel more comfortable when interacting. Refine the art of designing the perfect networking session by searching the best solutions to help your guests find relevant connections.
The Q&A sessions
There are several strategies and techniques that will improve your Q&A session and make your attendees feel more comfortable to participate. From fireside chats, to “Ask me Anything” dynamics, you have several options to choose from. Don’t limit yourself to the typical 45-minute speech and 15-minute Q&A. Experiment with different ideas and determine which one maximizes attendee participation.
The social program
From guided city tours to cocktail dinners in the museum halls, you can experiment with multiple options that will definitely amplify the experience. Every time you plan a new event, think about introducing new social elements to enrich the activities agenda. By diversifying the social program, you’ll be able to analyze and understand how different experiences will impact the way your attendees feel and behave.
Call to action
Although you have a tried-and-true planning protocol already established, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Afterward, analyze the results of your small experiments and choose the best option to enhance the experience of your attendees. By doing so, you’ll improve the quality of your events and grow professionally.