John’s response could go one of two ways. “Oh, it was just another normal event. What’s for dinner?” Or, “It was SO awesome. You gotta see these pictures I took. This photo is the speaker who we all went to dinner with on the second day. Oh, and this was the surprise hike we all went on. Seriously, it was a blast.”
The first response reminds me of some normal ole’ business meeting. The second? A real experience of an event that could change an attendee’s life. Now, isn’t it obvious which you’d rather have?
Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience:
- Know Your Guests
This is the most essential aspect of creating an experience instead of just an event. I could just stop here, and it would almost be enough. But I won’t! Instead of spending time and money on what you think attendees might want, spend time and money on what you know they want. Conduct an Internet poll before the conference to learn a little more about your guests. Maybe you think speakers should have more time than group discussions, but your attendees want the opposite. Maybe you think a quick lunch in the conference area would be best, but you learn that a longer, outdoor lunch is preferable. Even if you don’t do a poll, really put yourself in your attendees’ shoes with every decision you make.
- Have Enough Free Time
Free time in between speakers (or workshops or whatever else is going on during the day) is needed for self-reflection, networking, and relaxing attendees’ brains. I don’t think a poll is needed to prove this one; giving your guests free time and making them feel relaxed instead of rushed will help them learn and be grateful for attending. Oh, and networking and making friends will absolutely help the event be even more memorable.
Engaging doesn’t just mean getting your attendees involved, but it also means making them feel important. There’s a difference between, “I went to an event and learned a lot,” and, “I feel like that event really spoke to me.” Having choices, having fun, and having unique opportunities will engage your guests much more than a routine, average conference.
What else helps make an event memorable?