Best practices to ensure your event persuades your audience to take action
Now that you know how to create a memorable buzz worthy experience by stimulating all five senses and engaging your audience on an emotional level (as detailed in Part 1), let’s focus on the true meat of a function – your purpose. The purpose of hosting an event isn’t merely to get people talking or to remember your brand, it is about bringing a specific group of people together and encouraging them to take action. What specifically are you asking of them? How do you want them to take action?
Maybe it’s to believe in the efficacy of your new product. Or how you need them to share the news with their followers. Or maybe you want them to purchase your latest innovation. It is up to you to convince them to act. So how do you do that? Follow the below best practices to ensure you are building an event that persuades your audience to take action.
Most people are going to remember only one or two things you convey. Whether the event is an evening or a two-day conference, they will still only remember one or two things. You and your presenters need to be clear about what you want the audience to carry with them. You need to build a story so that you can clearly communicate why you are asking your audience to act. Hone your message until it’s clear, concise and repeatable. The goal here is that when the guests leave, you want them all to be saying the same thing. Maybe it’s the key message points of your new product, maybe it’s the big concept behind the campaign, but the point is to boil it down to a key elevator pitch, keep reiterating it, chant it if you must, so everyone remembers it. If you need a little help editing down your message to a repeatable phrase, grab a copy of Ron Ploof’s, The Proverb Effect; Secrets to creating tiny phrases that change the world. This will give you the step-by-step to crafting your edited, memorable message.
The human brain is perfectly engineered to filter out noise and irrelevant information. Overall event flow, from what people do to how presenters speak, create a rhythm. If your rhythm becomes predictable, your audience’s brains will tune it out and the information won’t resonate. Remember the adage: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it? Your audience needs to have unexpected surprises to catch the brain off guard so it will pay attention. The energy must change. This is what triggers the brain to be alert because it does not know what will come next.
You want to toggle between high and low moments as the change in either direction will perk their attention. Think about where you want the high points, the exciting pieces. Is it the unveiling of a product, a specific keynote speaker or a climatic video? How do you build your audience to the height of excitement? Some good tools for increasing tempo are music, making people move, and strong high energy presenters.
Our brains also need pauses in order to sift through incoming material. If we are only in a high energy, fast mode, the brain will leave behind information while trying to keep up with the next new piece coming at it. You want to pepper in calm time as well. Break into small groups, let people work or talk together more intimately, play low music, shift the energy of the room to give the brain a chance to process and absorb. This is a dance between quick quick slow, consciously, to increase your audience retention.
Have you been to those events where you were blown away and wondered if every element was carefully thought through? Spoiler alert. It was. Every detail needs to be mapped out and planned. Walk through the whole agenda from how guests arrive (where will they park, is there valet, are they walking) down to the very end -- how they depart. If you will be forming groups, is it clear how and where they will form, and for how long? If you have multiple presenters how do they transition on and off stage and switch microphones?
The best practice after you have walked the whole event in the shoes of your attendees and thought of every detail is to write it all down. We have seen detailed excel documents with every time block, speaker, décor, and transition noted. They are intense documents, but they lead to the events that knock your socks off. Trust us, write it all down because that is how you remember every detail. The document also becomes the vehicle for every staff member to understand where everything and everyone needs to be. After all, the devil in the details is exactly what makes an event succeed or fail.
Once you have your message, your content, and your ask built out, you know how and where the energy will pick up and slow down, and you have a detailed plan, there is one last step which is crucial. You must relay all the information to the team helping you run the event. Have a pre-event (known as a pre-con) meeting and ensure everyone (no matter their role) has a copy of your detailed event agenda. Walk through it all from top to bottom. Assign people their roles and add these roles to your detailed plan. At the end of the meeting send out the updated plan to everyone.
If each member of your team is aware of what needs to happen, beyond just their own roles, they will be more invested in ensuring the whole function transpires the way the plan dictates. They will understand their piece and know how they fit in the bigger picture. They also can be another set of eyes and hands to notice when something is going awry and thus be empowered to jump in and effectively help. They need to be able to make decisions in the moment to get the best outcome. If you don’t share the entire event goal and details with your team it is a sure-fire way to have your staff running to you constantly asking what to do, which makes everyone’s experience terrible. Trust us, your guests will notice.
The best way to keep the whole team connected the day of the event is to set up a group chat with everyone. Yes, it will be a lot of messages flying back and forth, but no one will be able to say they didn’t know what was going on or how they could help!
A final bonus piece of advice is, finish your event by having a post mortem. The next morning, while everything is still fresh, meet with your team. Review what went well, what did not and ways you could improve next time. Be sure to listen to everyone! The whole team had different roles and saw the function from different angles. The goal is to keep what works and ditch the parts of the plan that went poorly, consumed too many resources or did not deliver the overall take-home message. You can create a scalable process with templates that minimize your resources for planning and executing. This will leave you more time to create unique, valuable content. That is ultimately where you want your and your team's energy to go because the message and the ask are what must be special to each event you host.