“…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
These words rang true as ever, as I styled my first wedding a few weeks back.
As the bride, a girl I had never met prior to just handing her the most gorgeous pale pink bouquet, walked down the aisle, I started to tear-up.
The serene trickle of the fountain behind them, the heavenly aroma of the eucalyptus branches that graced the aisle, the twinkle of the bistro lights that hung overhead, the way the sun reflected on the water as it made its descent, and the halo the rays cast upon this young couple as they went hand in hand and locked eyes as if they were the only two in the room.
I looked around at the rest of the worker bees, and they too had glistened eyes.
It was all so breathtaking in its southern simplicity.
3 weeks later, and I could not give you one characteristic of the wedding party, what the pastor said, or be able to pick any of them out of a lineup, but I will never forget how that event made me feel. How surprisingly moved I was by this experience with complete strangers.
I’m not looking for crying meeting attendees, but how could I ensure a similarly powerful, lasting connection with each executed event?
Do not underestimate the power of the senses and its connection to the return on the event investment.
Would this wedding have brought me to tears if there was a heavy metal concert in the background beyond the water of dead floating fish, dinner food burning in the nearby kitchen, and a large helicopter stationed directly overhead? Not happy tears.
You could spend all the time in the world picking the best speakers and creating moving content, but making this mistake could make it all for nothing.
Create the environment where your message will even stand a chance to render your desired results.
Simply, have you accounted for all five senses in your planning? You may be surprised at the different perspectives each gives.
View the event through the eyes of your attendees to ensure they will have the positive experience and impact you intend.
- Does each seat have a good view of the stage/speaker/screen/presented material?
- When you walk in the room is there a WOW! factor?
- Are there long lines at registration?
- Is the font large enough, so names are easily identified on name badges?
- Is directional signage visible and appealing?
- Is the food colorful and creatively styled?
- Is the lighting in the room creating the right mood? To bright? Too dark? Natural Light?
Food can make or break any event. Do not skimp on making sure food is of good quality and exceeds expectations.
- Was a taste test completed prior to arrival?
- Is the hot food hot, and the cold food cold?
- Too salty?
- Too spicy?
- Are your group’s dietary restrictions needs met, labeled, and appealing?
- Is there a unique signature cocktail offered at the bar?
If you want attendees to listen and respond to your message, avoid distracting noises so they can hear it and look to music to evoke the right emotions.
- Is there construction going on at the property?
- Is there another group on the other side of a thin air wall?
- Is the background music too loud?
- Have the speakers practiced with the microphone to ensure the correct levels are set?
- Have you instructed when venue staff can and cannot clear plates?
- Have you chosen catchy upbeat music to intro the exciting next speaker or send them off to break?
- Have you considered what other groups are in-house that could be noisy? …like, say a Cheerleading convention with thousands of Cheerleaders practicing in the hotel hallways. True Story. Not good.
Touch has the ability to make attendees feel pampered and well taken care of.
- Are the chairs comfortable?
- Did you use high-grade linen?
- Is the fabric of the lanyards scratchy on the neck?
- Are the napkins going to shed all over their clothes?
- Are the bed sheets of high quality?
- Are breaks or menu items interactive, like a DIY trail mix station?
Smell is one of the most important senses and is connected to the memory in a very intense way.
- Does the carpet smell clean or is the cleaning agent even more overwhelming and offensive?
- Is the venue smoke-free?
- Are trash cans cleaned?
- Do you smell mold? Dust? Bleach?
- What smells could you infuse to influence a lasting memory? i.e. popped popcorn at a break or perhaps fragrant floral centerpieces or décor.
Running planning decisions through this sensory checklist could make all the difference in achieving your event goals and driving your ROI.
Whether it is a corporate meeting, wedding, or a simple gathering in your home, making sure each sense is appropriately accounted for will allow you to reap the benefits of a successful event with satisfied attendees and guests that will remember it (positively) for years to come.
What event first comes to your mind? Why?