No matter how much you try to plan an engaging event, you'll always run the risk of it being a boring experience.
You may focus on providing engaging networking environments or inspiring knowledge sessions. You may obsess over designing a flawless attendee journey and efficient mass communication. You may even set up a stellar social program, leveraging the unique sites of the event destination. However, because of not knowing how to read your guests' expectations, you might end up delivering an average event that has no chance of becoming memorable.
You might be anxiously wondering how or why this happens. Nowadays, we must navigate multiple event complexities. By doing so, we may sometimes forget what's important. We tend to obsess more about the ways in which we can automatize the event marketing campaign, and lose sight of delivering authentic experiences that will make our attendees feel good - which is what they are expecting from our events in the first place.
Attendees want to connect with potential business collaborations and gain access to fresh knowledge, but the basic need they want to fulfill is to disconnect from their ordinary reality and engage in a meaningful environment. In other words, people want to experience excitement during events. As event professional Julia Rutherford Silvers argues, building excitement during events is the key factor that determines the memorability of the attendees' experience and their emotional well-being.
Apart from that, by generating excitement, planners can avoid a series of potential problems. They'll be able to grab and keep their guests' attention. They'll also help their audiences achieve a higher level of efficiency during the event. Finally, they’ll motivate people to engage more with the event content and the environment itself.
Considering this, here’s a list of tips you can apply to build a healthy level of excitement for your attendees:
Tip 1. Practice offline meetings to avoid distraction
Do yourself a favor and sit in the last row, during your event. Then, start counting all the flashy screens you see in your guests’ hands. Some will be using their laptops to send emails or check the news, while others will be scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed on their phones.
This is all going on while the pricey speaker you hired to present is sharing valuable insights that could potentially change the professional lives of your audience, and none of them seem to be listening.
You’ll probably feel a bit puzzled, and slightly frustrated. Why aren’t they paying attention? The answer is simple: It’s almost impossible to completely disconnect these days.
Attendees aren’t engaging out of disrespect; rather, they feel more comfortable multitasking and listening to the speaker while looking down at their phones. This prevents them from being fully present, and subsequently, they’re not experiencing any excitement. That’s why, as a first step to build excitement, the event moderator or speaker must have attendees disconnect from all electronics.
The moderator or speaker could do a simple exercise of asking the audience to stay in silence for one minute without thinking about anything, almost like meditation. This will help the attendees to relax and focus more on listening to the speaker, responding easier to those factors that will be used to build excitement.
Tip 2. Set up your attendees’ intentions
After asking your attendees to put away their phones and laptops, invite them to ask themselves why they are attending the event in the first place, what they’re hoping to take away from the event, what information do they want to gain from the knowledge sessions, and what outcomes do they want to achieve. Like the previous activity, this one will help the attendees to clarify what their intentions and goals are, and invoke an open mind and a creative mindset.
Tip 3. Transform your audience into event co-creating experts
Start building excitement by increasing the moments of engagement. But instead of encouraging engagement through the Q&A session, transform your audience into the event experts. Enable their participation at the co-creation of the event content. You can work with the moderators and the speakers to involve actively the attendees through direct participation.
From live polls to quizzes and constant interaction, make sure those who attend your event will have multiple opportunities to participate. This will help you build the excitement through sharing experiences and the anticipation of the upcoming interactive dynamics.
Tip 4. Introduce the flow experience
Flow equals being at the peak of your performance while enjoying the activity you are doing. One can achieve flow when both anxiety and boredom are excluded from an experience. To help your audience enter the flow state, think about a series of challenges that will make them call upon their skills and knowledge. Apart from adding an element of fun to the event, you’ll build excitement through the lively participation in activities (group quizzes, team games) that are both thrilling and interesting.
Tip 5. Increase the level of dopamine and serotonin
Yes, we’re advising you to mess with your attendees’ brains. Don’t worry … it’s not what you think. To ensure your attendees achieve a high level of dopamine and serotonin, you must provide an engaging story, defined by intrigue and anticipation. This will ensure increased excitement and the likelihood attendees will want to make the most of the event.
Event logistics is the easy part - it's dealing and managing your attendees’ emotions that are the trickiest tasks. However, to guarantee your event is a success, you must do everything in your power to make your audience enjoy their experience. Building excitement is one of the strategies you can use to transform your attendees into active and happy participants. So instead of spending extra hours on deciding the type of LED screens you’ll use for the stage, dedicate that time to designing a powerful strategy for creating excitement for your guests.