7 Things An Undercover EventProf Learned
Hello and happy Friday - the end of the week for many, unless you are an #Eventprof! Today we are going to explore events from the attendee's perspective. Far more effective than a post-event survey, attending events is one of the best ways to improve your own. It is easy to think like an attendee when you are one! Just slip that notepad into your pocket, and jot down your thoughts and observations as you go. I took this assignment myself, here's my takeaway:
1. Parking - Affordable, safe, convenient parking matters. As this is an obstacle in many cities, shuttle and valet services are helpful. I recently met a woman who chose to get a parking ticket just to park in a place she felt comfortable walking to and from alone at night. Tip: Especially in historic venues, be sure that there are no accessibility challenges for guests with limited mobility.
2. Order of Events - A simple event timeline is always appreciated. I have noted that people get anxious just wondering how long they have to wait to eat or when there will be a powder room break. Tip: Save the trees, project the order of events on screens.
3. Noise - Depending on the venue acoustics this can be a challenge - the goal is to have enough energy in the room (perhaps live or piped-in music) without overwhelming the guests' ability to carry on a comfortable conversation. When talking and hearing become too tiring, people want to leave. Tip: Acoustic music during cocktail hour, promotes easier conversation - rather than a band where each member brings their own amp - if you know what I mean!
4. Dietary Needs - As a vegetarian who is gluten-sensitive and doesn't prefer alcohol, I am an extreme case, however I do recall not returning to a popular event after I paid a hefty ticket price to drink water and eat a strawberry! I get it - people like me are a pain, but, the reality remains that gluten, dairy, alcohol, and carnivore fare are common dietary restricted items for people with health concerns - keeping a good variety is a crowd-pleaser. Tip: Have an awesome salad bar and some elegant "mocktails."
5. Event Hosts - For the screen-addicted generation, small-talk skills have diminished dramatically. Having event hosts who are good conversationalists will greatly enhance the attendee's experience and show them that they matter. A skilled host will know how to connect attendees who have similar fields or interests. Tip: Be on the lookout for guests who are seated alone staring at their phones - I guarantee most are not attending to pressing business matters, more than likely they are bored or feel awkward.
6. Seating - Those gold bamboo chairs sure are pretty and they cost 32.50 each to rent, but if they were soo comfortable, wouldn't we all have them in our houses around our TVs? Seriously, ample comfortable seating promotes attentiveness to the speaker/entertainment and promotes conversation during mixers and cocktail hours. Tip: Put yourself in the attendee's shoes - literally. Try walking around for an hour or two in the most adorable Jimmy Choo heels and you'll see what I mean!
7. Programing - I touch on this in other articles such as The Ultimate Dinner Event Template, but seriously, keep your programming short and sweet. Long announcements, boring awards ceremonies, monotone educational sessions, etc. don't have that audience-retaining ingredient you need. Tip: The use of beautiful lighting and set design, elegant slides, props, audience interaction, and interspersed entertainment are all ways to keep people engaged. If you are looking for an hour program try 45 minutes instead.
I can't wait to hear what has worked for you! Have you ever gone"undercover" to scope out events? What have you found? Have you implemented any of your findings into your own events? Post your comments below!
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