In a world where virtual communication is becoming the norm, it is easy to forget the importance of in-person interaction. Live networking events give people a chance to connect on a human level, which can encourage smiling, laughing, and produce positive neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine that impact mood, satisfaction, and happiness.
These connections translate into better productivity, business success, and overall personal and professional development. The goal then is to create experiences that drive happiness, productivity, and increase attendance.
In this article we’ll touch on how to make your in-person events drive higher attendance, and positive feedback.
The Impact on In-Person Events in the Digital Age
Over the last few years, trends such as remote working, streaming services, and social media have encouraged people to stay home. However, studies have shown that this has taken a toll on both mental health and people’s ability to network and build relationships. For instance, the US National Institutes of Health’s Center for Scientific Review found that 40 to 50 per cent of employees admitted to paying less attention when working virtually and that their engagement suffered dramatically.
Life can get so busy it is easy to forget that live human interaction is the critical component of personal and professional development, team productivity, and the ability to innovate.
In-person events are not only about having a fun party. They hold a deeper significance as human experiences that many people are subconsciously lacking and eagerly crave.
Live Events, Happiness, and Productivity
Happiness has long been shown to increase productivity, improve collaboration, and encourage innovation in teams. But what is happiness?
According to the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, happiness is “a state of well-being and contentment, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”
Recently at a professionals’ industry conference I surveyed my colleagues to see why they go to in-person events. The answers all revolved around terms such as “people”, “connection”, “human contact”, “networking”, “fun”, “excitement”, “experience”, and “energy”, all in line with the definition of happiness.
Sharing a unique experience in an in-person setting makes people feel happy and connected. And the best part is that this relationship continues beyond that event.
Live experiences and conversations build strong relationships that are a fertile foundation for higher understanding, collaboration, productivity, and innovation.
How to Create Successful In-Person Experiences that Drive Happiness
Here are three things you can do to create meaningful, successful in-person events that drive happiness, excitement, and interest.
- Focus on the Experience.
One way to create a unique event experience that guests can’t get on Netflix or YouTube is by going beyond what they can do virtually. Focus on the physical and emotional experience by attaching entertainment to messaging that connects positivity.
This not only captures attention longer but also stays with them longer. The best entertainment creates a sense of a joined experience that makes everyone feel special. For instance, Dr. Draw creates an emotional and impactful impression with powerful music, lighting effects, and his contagious energy. Yan Markson uses mentalism and magic in a unique and interactive way to bring audience members together, challenge their perception, and create an experience they will never forget.
Involving guests in team-building activities like “Chopped” themed food challenges and the Amazing Race can foster in-person human and emotional connections for team bonding, relationship building, and networking.
- Make it Meaningful.
Add meaning to your event by connecting it to an important theme that guests believe in and want to support. People appreciate the opportunity to take action to make a positive difference or give back to their community.
Connecting the event to their emotions makes it more meaningful. Reminding guests that they deserve to be happy and the impact that this will have on their lives can inspire attendance. Recognizing and celebrating achievements can boost morale.
This is the time and place to build your company culture. For example, incorporating the company’s values into the event’s theme, activities, and messaging, will help employees feel more connected to the company’s mission and purpose.
- Tell an Intriguing Story.
When people commit to attending your event, time, travel, and costs are involved. To promote your event, emphasize “why” it is worth the investment. This is where making it meaningful can help. (see step 2)
People are used to getting snippets of information in one-minute videos on platforms like TikTok, so you can leverage this by creating little snippets about your upcoming event. For example, you can get performers and speakers to make a 15-second clip and mash it together into a little “invitation video.”
Showcase interactive activities, exclusive networking opportunities, and access to industry leaders that attendees can only experience by attending the event in person. Create a sense of excitement and anticipation by emphasizing the one-of-a-kind interaction that cannot be duplicated online.
How Will You Make Your Event More Meaningful?
Successful in-person experiences can drive happiness, excitement, and interest. By focusing on the experience, making it meaningful, and telling an intriguing story, you can create unique and memorable events that people will want to attend.
How will you drive happiness and make your next event more meaningful?
Debbie Arato, CSEP, is partner and experience design strategist at Experiential Experts Inc.