Rethinking Design For Impactful Events


by Shannon Byck and Joe Nishi

Back in June 2023, we wrote an article on Why Events Need a Great Reimagination, and our biggest take away from the article was that we see this time as a chance to make change so we do not go back to the mindset on how and why we did things before. One key way to change our mindset is to reset how we plan events.

When you think of the term program design or redesign, planners should keep the entire concept of the event in mind starting with how you market, develop experiences, engage with vendors and how your attendees feel at the event.

Here are a few tips to help you embrace your mindset:


Hopefully planners, associations and corporations are taking the time to reassess event design and rethinking the rationale of why they do what they do and no longer embrace the thought process of that is how we did it in the past. Your end goal should be creating a program full of impactful experiences where attendees leave your event feeling motivated, challenged, and inspired.


  • Program design – Rethink the timing of your agenda and focus on engaging content. Our attention span and ability to focus on one thing for too long has shortened so let’s re-evaluate sessions that are 60 minutes long. Reassess session structures.  Look at a mix of panels, fireside conservations, industry speakers, keynote speakers that can engage the audience in a shorter time span.
  • Networking – Events are known to be a great way to make connections, so build a program agenda that allows for that. Professional development is not hindered by longer breaks and lunches. Extending breaks allows for education to still happen through the continued conversations of the attendees.
  • Food and beverage – We have seen a great shift in the preferences of attendees when it comes to what they eat and drink at events. Food allergies have increased. Dietary preferences are in higher demand. Attendees are looking for an experience when it comes to what they are being served, so put extra attention into the selections you make. This also pertains to bar service. Let’s embrace the rise in popularity of the mocktail movement.
  • Activations – Adding engaging experiential event design will ensure that attendees leave your event with something to talk about. These are also your social media moments that provide you with Instagram-worthy opportunities. Incorporating activations will increase attendee participation through memorable moments that will ensure they return to future events.
  • Accessibility – During the registration process, groups should be asking for any accessibility requirements so that your event is inclusive for all attendees. We suggest that you exceed your attendees’ requirements. When designing the event, think about all attendee experiences. How accessible is parking, the venue, registration, meeting room acoustics and ensure attendees have a similar event experience.


Innovative technologies are essential in helping planners deliver exceptional experiences to attendees. Whether you are new to event planning or a seasoned planner, it is essential that we stay on top of the latest tech trends. Embracing technology and the assistance it can provide, can make your planning process that much easier. From Chat GPT, Durable to Plotdot, there are various tools that can help us work smarter.


  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Embrace AI and how it can assist in how you:
    • Market your events.
    • Improve the attendee experience onsite.
    • Provide a deeper dive in the analysis of event data and help with identity patterns and trends.
    • Manage your time more efficiently and save resources.
  • Technology – Work with your technology provider to get their suggestions on what they have done in the past and suggestions that they can provide based on their lessons learned.
  • Program design – How you design your event will also dictate the technology you use. Is the goal an in-person experience only, strictly virtual or hybrid? Your event objectives and budget parameters will further assist in how you incorporate technology into your programming.


Getting into the mindset of taking the time to ensure events are designed strategically will become second nature the more you incorporate it into your day-to-day planning routine!

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs


Shannon Byck and Joe Nishi are with Meeting Encore Ltd., which recently celebrated its 33rd year of assisting clients with their strategic sourcing needs.  Meeting Encore’s team of industry professionals can be reached at 905-403-9646 or via their website at


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