As more event and meeting attendees demand and seek out experiences, it’s easy for event planning teams to sink large amounts of money and time to deliver a show-stopping event. But is that creating the impact that is the objective?
Regardless of your budget, there’s one element you can focus on to deliver a memorable attendee experience while accomplishing your event goals: the human element.
“Think more about the human aspects of an event, which aren’t always tied to funding,” said Callie Motz, account director, Wellington.
Motz and the Wellington team did just that when helping a client combine two distinct conferences into one large event. Communication—always a priority at any meeting or event—was especially important for this client, given that one of the key event goals was to encourage and collect firsthand feedback to help guide civic development and start-up resources.
“Encouraging conversation doesn’t require a lot of money,” Motz said. “Instead, it requires intentional connection between attendees and a space that allows for discussion.”
Embracing the human side of meetings and events is one of many reasons that the unconference format continues to become more popular. Discussion and collaboration are among the primary goals of an unconference. You’ll typically see a departure from structured agendas that focus on presentations in favor of workshops, custom breakout sessions and other hands-on activities that give attendees a chance to learn and share in a more informal setting.
As you plan your event or meeting, look for opportunities to highlight the human element. Set up a few comfortable seating areas and encourage attendees to converse with others, whether during between-session breaks or scheduled breakout sessions. If your agenda includes networking events, try introducing something new to see what response you get. Attendees could collaborate on a creative activity, for example, or gather in a local venue that’s tied to your event’s industry or theme.
You can also enhance the human side of your event’s digital presence. Encourage dialogue and sharing by creating and prominently displaying event-specific hashtags for use on social media. If you have an event or meeting app, make it easy for users to connect with each other, whether through chat or similar functionality.
And when your event concludes, keep that commitment to personal connection going by reaching out to your attendees for feedback. In addition to getting their input on the event and its various components, you might also seize the opportunity to find out what attendees would like to see added or done differently, especially if the event or meeting is recurring. Giving your attendees a chance to feel like stakeholders is another effective way to make your event feel more personal while demonstrating that you’re committed to giving attendees the best possible experience.
Be sure to include yourself in those feedback opportunities. We’re guessing you’ve attended quite a few events and/or meetings by now. Think back and identify what made an event or meeting stand out in a positive way. Did you make any connections that you still use? Do you remember feeling particularly connected to an event attendee, speaker or element? Jot down some ideas or memories that immediately come to mind, then use that list as a springboard to refine your event plans.
If you’re looking for more ways to make your event feel more human, we’d love to share insight based on our experiences with clients in a similar situation. We can show you some fun and effective examples of what works, including from the client event that’s linked earlier in this post. Drop us a note and we’ll schedule a time to chat.