Everyone remembers the end of a story.
Whether it’s Rose not sharing her floating device with Jack in Titanic, grown men with guns chasing kids on flying bikes in E.T. or a con man being miraculously cured of his pesky limp in Usual Suspects – when things end with an emotional crescendo, they stay with us. It’s no different at your event.
We’ve said before that your event should follow the structure of a good brand story, and any great novel captures the attention of the reader out of the gates and, by the time it’s all over, has captured their hearts and minds as well. With your corporate event production, a cohesive brand story forges an emotional connection with the attendee that engages them throughout the entire experience.
Two phases of the attendee journey in particular are the perfect time to hit your audience square in the feels: Arrival and Exiting.
People are most prone to engagement at the beginning and end of an event. It’s these points in time you need to blow your attendees’ minds and inspire further action.
At CPG, we live for this inspiration. Our 30+ years of experience bring a higher level of understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Here is what we think are the best ways to write the bookends of your next event story.
Creating a Lasting Impression for Event Attendees
These two moments can determine your attitude moving forward and shape your opinion after the fact. It’s why expressions like “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” and “parting can be such sweet sorrow” are in our vernacular. At your annual convention, failing to WOW by pulling off an awesome hello or an inspirational goodbye could render the whole middle ineffective. So, how can you use these moments to knock your attendees’ socks off?
Setting the Tone at Arrival
It’s a new place, new space and it’s the first day of school… sort of. It’s the first day of your event and your first opportunity to grab the attention of your big eyed audience. These are the steps to breaking through the chaos and preparing viewers for all the excitement to come.
Reset their emotions
When they first arrive, your audience will have just traveled any distance between an Uber ride down the street to a flight half-way around the world. During that travel time, they’re bound to experience a plethora of things outside your control. Canceled flights and traffic jams can drain your attendees of all their emotional energy, and it’s something you need to account for.
Thankfully, a well-designed welcome can reset your audience’s emotions.
Refocus their objectives
They’ve heard the buzz about your event. They know big corporate news and meeting new executives is on the horizon. Capture their attention with a theme that carries it’s own brand throughout the event space. Use creative branding and related entertainment to turn each phase of their journey into an experience. This is where you can immerse them in your event’s purpose.
Set the stage
When those doors open and they get their first glance at the stage – how do you want them to feel? Scenic event design is a critical WOW opportunity to let your audience know they’re part of something special – an elite experience tailored to them. From lights and sound to walkup screens to opening entertainment and keynotes – these must all be strategically designed to serve up energy and excitement right out of the gates.
Ways to Give a Signature Farewell
Through initial discovery with a new client, we often learn that their final touchpoint isn’t given much thought in the past. Attendees are often left to drift away on their own accord. A good band doesn’t end on a mediocre song. With events, leaving them to their final breakouts after a morning keynote often results in a serious lack of closure that misses a key opportunity to drive up emotion one final time and leave them wanting more.
Don’t let your people simply walk away – this is your chance to send them packing with something meaningful. In fact, crafting a powerful exit strategy allows you to capitalize on one of the most critical moments during the attendee journey. Here are a few ideas to get your conference go-ers feeling the love.
Reinforce the message
Create a surprise and delight touchpoint that reminds them of the event (and their own) purpose as they exit.
This is a great time to deliver a summary or recap in a disruptive, creative manner so they can reference it but also feel appreciated.
For purposeful event planners, however, the “end” is just the beginning. The weeks and months following the conference are prime time for post-event engagement strategies – from surveys to email campaigns to cascading events and beyond.
Tug at the heartstrings
In some situations, you may forgo any detail-heavy recaps and instead go straight for the heart. Giving a heartfelt parting message is a great way to make your attendees remember your event because it humanizes their experience.
There, in the moment, when your attendee is onsite, is the optimal time to engage them emotionally. This is most often done in an inspirational recap video where the impact of the event can be revealed and will resonate with attendees, thereby:
- Creating a relationship with the guest
- Inspiring and connecting with them emotionally
- Make a lasting impressional
Give the attendee an inspirational push out the door
As a corporate event planner, it’s critical to design significant moments that become stepping stones for your movement.
Engagement is on-going. You want attendees to remember and cascade your brand’s message after the event. When an attendee is inspired, motivated and re-energized, your event never really ends.
Ready to enhance the different phases of your event’s attendee journey? CPG Agency can help you create “Belief through Experience” at your next annual corporate event. We’re ready to show you how.