Andy Johnston is president and creative director of The Idea Group and is a sought-after industry expert in developing ingenious ways to engage and motivate audiences. Andy has deep expertise in strategic planning, messaging, creative direction, marketing and events. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-213-4416.
Be honest. Why do people attend your conferences, training meetings and corporate events? Why do people take the incentive trips and respond to reward programs? You might think the top reasons are:
The answer isn’t the location, food, speeches, hotel rooms or content and activities. Everyone comes for personal, sharable experiences. It doesn’t matter if the attendees are attorneys, educators, CPAs or insurance executives — you have to give them compelling reasons to care about the objectives, content and speakers.
As a successful meeting consultant, I’m not a big believer in saying “always” and “never,” but generating attendance is the big exception. Under no circumstances should you ever violate this absolute rule:
How many times have you heard someone say, “This is business. I’m not here to put on a show?” Well, you are. It’s what your audience members expect, and they are entitled to it. Still, there are people and organizations that consider adding elements of entertainment, emotion and “active interest” trivial.
Here’s what I mean by “give them a show” in your event planning. Appeal to each person in ways that help convey content and messages so that it is valuable, acceptable, emotional and memorable.
People enjoy and respond to the feelings that experiences generate. When you give your audiences a show, you are giving them permission to react…to get involved on an emotional level.
Ask yourself, why would anyone want to invest their time and attention in anything that’s devoid of feelings and reactions? Then, look at your training, development, internal and external communication, meetings and incentive programs. Would you attend your own event if you didn’t have to?
The people who attend meetings today expect to participate and do things for themselves. They view being an attendee as an action word.
The people who attend meetings today expect to participate and do things for themselves. They view being an attendee as an action word. Attendees expect valuable experiences that are more than 12-hour marathons of folding chairs, dark rooms, PowerPoint presentations and managed activities. How do you create those experiences in your event planning?
A memorable experience isn’t based on the content; it’s based on how the attendees feel about the content.
Here’s your success strategy:
The good news is that in the history of the planet, there have never been more ways to make your events memorable. Think about all the techniques and technologies you can use. Take those tools and personalize your meeting in ways that are clear, simple and effective. The secrets are:
In 2014, there also is this cold reality: If what your audience can find on their smartphones or tablets is more interesting and relevant than what’s happening at the front of the room — you’ve wasted their time and the organization’s money. Here are some proven ways to sustain their attention and maximize the personalization.
A show is the audience’s reward for being there. It is the face of your event or workshop. How you handle the content and the ways you present it make people feel valued and special. Your goal is: “Wow, look what they did for me!”
Your task begins by not assuming that the attendees are interested or involved just because they are there.
Think about the most memorable event you ever attended. It was a great experience. It was dynamic. You could see it, hear it and sense it. Something happened at that event. It was reflected in the faces, postures, enthusiasm, attitudes and actions of the people there. And it was reflected in the positive results the event generated.
I’ll bet it wasn’t just another workshop, meeting or program — it was a show. You left feeling energized, inspired and ready to act.
How to Boost Your Meeting’s Staying Power
According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, there are actually two experiences for every meeting, presentation, workshop, cruise or party. There is what we experienced as it happened…and the memory of the experience after it’s over.
The memory is what lasts. It’s the total of every thing and everyone. It’s like your memory is a storyteller and you need a happy ending. So, how do you create one? Give your audience:
Long after everything is over, what kind of review will your audience give your next event?
Did the participants duck out early and head for the nearest bar, golf course or airport? Or did they sit up, take notice and participate in many diverse opportunities to experience powerful content that’s relevant to their specific needs. Did they find practical ways to use the information immediately and leave the event revved up for their next workday?
If you want to make sure that the people who attend your events give you glowing reviews and deliver the results you need, it’s that simple. Always give them a show. I&FMM