I spend the vast majority of my time attending events, conferences and trade shows. I talk to meeting pros, CEOs, audience members, exhibitors, sponsors, convention staff, hotel folks and event staffers. I do this for a living and, like you, I love events.
But I have to tell you, across every industry—from medicine, architecture, retail, construction, technology, financial services, human resources and entertainment (to name just a few)—something is still missing.
Here’s the big question: Is there one thing you could do to make your next event indispensable, irresistible and more successful than any event you have ever planned or hosted? Is there one thing that would satisfy the financial expectations of your CEO, the attendance goals of your exhibitors, the prestige and reputation desired by your board, and the myriad whims and wishes of the volunteer committees that come and go every year or two?
Is it possible that there is just one thing that would align the stars and achieve all of these often competing goals and expectations? I think there is.
What is the one thing that the Emmys, the Oscars, the Super Bowl, a Coldplay concert and TED all have in common?
That’s it, surprise. You don’t know what’s going to happen, who’s going to win, what’s new or what to expect. It’s ironic that humans want predictability, stability and security, and once we get it, we’re suddenly bored. We want something new, a twist, a thrill, a surprise.
One of my favorite phrases is “better sameness”—the same predictable experience, the same store layout, the same menu, the same general sessions, the same breakouts, only incrementally better every year.
Here’s the truth: Better sameness doesn’t get you where you want to go. It doesn’t get you what your boss, your board, your members, your exhibitors, your sponsors, or what you and your team are looking for.
The new, the fresh, the wow, the surprise—that’s what changes the game. That is the one thing that turns better sameness into the most relevant, cool, fresh and irresistible event that leapfrogs the incremental, the small, the tweaks.
Why do people stand in line for a new iPhone? Why are some restaurants eternally packed? Why are the mega churches continuing to thrive? Why are auto shows still popular? Because they engineer the unexpected, the new, the “I have to be there to see it, hear it, feel it first” magical moments into the design of the experience.
So, what’s the one thing? Disney knows it, Apple knows it, TED knows it, Money20/20 knows it, and now you know it.
What will surprise, delight, provoke, stimulate, tickle, crackle, sparkle, bring the heat, light the fuse, inspire and magnetize your audience at your next event?
Of course, the trains need to run on time, the schedule has to work and the speakers have to deliver, but you know that’s not enough.
I guarantee, if you open the aperture on the lens through which you view your event, see the possibilities to surprise your audience, create anticipation and, like Hollywood, create a performance with a few cliffhangers and plot twists, and if you don’t give away the ending, you’ll be amazed at how this one thing can change everything.