Events are stressful for attendees. Are you surprised? Usually, when we’re talking about the high complexity of the events industry, we’re referring to the organizers' planning and management experience, yet we tend to ignore the way people perceive the entire act of attending an event.
However, being an attendee involves a lot of friction and stress-loaded activities. Events are supposed to be fun, right? So why do guests get stressed out at events? There are several reasons.
First, attending a conference, seminar, or even a concert means facing a new environment. The uncertainty of what one should expect from the event itself can induce anxiety and nervousness and increase stress levels.
Second, being an attendee also means dealing with multiple logistic-related tasks, such as registering for the event, paying the fees, traveling to the venue, checking in, finding the rooms, getting familiar with the event app, networking with others, etc.
Finally, events compress months of learning and interacting with other professionals.
So events can be quite intense, especially if people want to get the most out of attending them. To make sure your guests enjoy themselves, you’ll want to decrease the stress to which they are exposed.
The good news is that it’s in your power to transform the worries and pressure your guests might feel into an effortless and delightful experience. How can you do that? Here are some insights you can’t ignore when planning your next event:
Lower the logistics friction
- How much time do your attendees need to register for the event?
- How easy is it to access the event venue?
- Is the check-in procedure effortless?
- How many times will your guests have to check the event mobile app to find the workshop rooms? Will they know where the meeting point for the city guided tour is?
All these questions (and many others, depending on your event’s complexity) will help you understand all the friction points your attendees might experience when interacting with the event.
The more potential logistic struggles there might be, the more thought and care you should put into preparing everything.
After all, to ensure a close-to-zen experience for your attendees, you’ll want to eliminate any potential friction as much as possible and help them have a stress-free experience with the event logistics.
Reduce the number of decisions the attendees must make
Imagine your attendee asking himself or herself the following questions:
- What attendance category should I choose from all these thirty options?
- Which roundtable session should I attend?
- What social activity should I pick from this list of ten options?
It’s like staring at a 100% orange juice shelf in the supermarket and not being able to pick one from the few dozens of different options.
What will you do in this case? You’ll probably choose an orange juice at random or simply walk away empty-handed.
Like it or not, the mere idea of making a choice is stressful. Your attendees might second-guess themselves all throughout the event, worrying they didn’t pick the right seminar, group activity, or networking session.
To minimize their stress levels, reduce the number of decisions your guests must make to around two or three options, no more.
Use clear and straight-to-the-point communication
“My attendees are smart. They understand everything,” I hear you saying. Indeed, they are more than capable of reading and understanding Kant’s books, but when it comes to events, you’ll want to write your communications as if you were writing them for a fifth grader.
Not because your attendees aren’t intelligent, but who wants to waste time trying to decipher event jargon?
If the language you use lacks clarity, you’ll create confusion and frustration, thus increasing the stress levels of your guests. Keep this from happening by creating quick-to-digest messages or copy.
Incorporate relaxing activities in the program
Explore the idea of boosting your guests’ mood with some relaxing activities, such as yoga, pilates, or meditation, in the morning, before the event, or even during the lunch break. This will refresh your guests and help them gain a better emotional balance.
Move the meeting outside
If you want to make your attendees feel happy and carefree, sun, fresh air, and natural light are your best friends. If possible, move some of your event activities outdoors.
For example, you could invite your guests to engage in a networking activity while enjoying a cocktail on the rooftop or listen to an expert panel in the yard of the venue. Obviously, you’ll only want to do this if the weather cooperates! Have a backup plan just in case.
Plan some breathing exercises for your guests
Minutes or even seconds before a new roundtable session or a keynote speech, chances are your guests will be on their phones or computers, trying to answer important work emails or managing work-related challenges.
This external stress might negatively impact their experience. Have the moderator run a few breathing exercises before the session to help your guests relax and focus on the event.
From stress to zen
Events are stressful for both organizers and attendees, and nothing will change that. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to make your attendees’ experience as relaxing and carefree as possible.
Make sure to lower the logistics friction, reduce the number of choices attendees need to make, use clear language, incorporate relaxing activities into the program, move some event sessions outside, and encourage people to focus on the present moment through breathing exercises. All these actions will help your attendees experience a stress-free event that they’ll remember with joy.