As I have harped about in my previous articles, an event is more than just an event. Your attendees are more than just your guests and potential clients or partners – they are, for that event at least, your audience. And like every audience, they are waiting to be entertained. Here are some ways you can take your attendees on an emotional journey and have them sold on your event.
Tell A Story
There is not a more effective means of transmitting a message than in a story form. Every culture has used this medium to pass on their histories, cultures, moral teachings and various life hacks. And who are we to swim against such a tried-and-tested tide. From the moment your event is “go” – and I mean this from advertising, invitations and publicity, stick to the story. Keep to the theme and make sure everything is done “in character”. Use the design aesthetics and ensure the language is consistent. This will allow you to build a platform from which you can fully flesh out your message during the event itself. Like every good story, make sure there is an introduction, a backstory, a climax and a resolution. If you do this well, your audiences’ emotions will be in the palm of your hand.
Aim to engage as many of our senses as possible. Humans are sensual beings are the way our five senses are manipulated contribute both directly and indirectly to our emotions.
Choose a suitable and appropriate design scheme and stay with it. This will form the basis of satisfying the visual element of your event. Subsequent posters, flyers, videos and stage designs should be done with this basic aesthetic in mind. Even your in-event performances should have a visual quality that matches the overarching theme. This includes costumes, venue layout and props like awards or plaques that might be given out.
I’ve already discussed engaging the sense of smell in another article. In essence, though, use this often overlooked element to help you invoke emotions through what the smell is associated with and also through its ability to appeal to one’s memory.
Here’s the thing about sound. Too often people just take this to mean music. So let’s begin with that. Musicians come in many shapes and ilks. Choose music that is appropriate for the story and themes that you have established for your event. The best gangster rap artist would be terribly out of place at your black tie event just as the greatest Bach string quartet would be at your Goth-themed party. Beyond that, use other sounds to evoke emotions, sensations and memories. Be creative – the most innocuous of sounds could be the gateway to a cascade of emotions for your audience depending on their culture, history and context.
I’ve also discussed in another article the importance of choosing the right food for your event. I won’t belabor the point except to remind you of that adage: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Seeing as it is 2016 and that sort of gender-specific proverb has no place in our modern consciousness, let me just expand it and say that, arguably, the way to any audiences’ hearts is through their stomachs.
Finally, don’t neglect the sense of touch. As far as possible, make sure the materials and fabrics used are consistent with the theme. Simple things like the material of your cutlery of table cloths may not seem like much, but they go a long way in (at least subliminally) affecting the emotions of your audience.
Ultimately, stories and the symbols and metaphors within stories work because they are relatable to the intended audience. So make an effort to know and understand your audience. Jokes that are hilarious in one culture can at best draw blank looks from persons of another or at worst be just outright offensive.
Honesty is the Best Policy
And lastly, be honest. Audiences are not stupid and can immediately tell if the entertainment on offer comes from a genuine place or not. Never, in any circumstance, attempt to mislead your audience or choose a theme so different from your company’s character or vision that it feels out of place. If you want to connect with their emotions and bring them on a journey, it has to be believable and honest.
If there’s anything viral videos have shown us, it is that if you capture your audiences’ emotions, half the battle of selling your brand or product is won. With these simple guidelines, you too can be a guide, bringing your attendees on an emotional journey that they will enjoy.