A fair question. It’s true: we live in a digital age. All messages, images, and communications can be broken down into zeros and 1’s and be rendered on a screen that is always within reach. If we want to see an image of a person or communicate with them, we have Zoom, Skype, YouTube, and the hundreds of other video mediums at our fingertips.
Now, this post isn’t just about needing to be in the company of other people because “we’re wired that way,” or because Maslow told us “belonging is a fundamental human need,” or, according that great quote, because “you can’t see eye to eye unless you’re face to face.” Although all of these quips are true.
No, there’s a deeper reason why a live event is a central element of your organization’s mission, value proposition, and media strategy. And that reason is focus.
When we pay to attend an event, incur the costs of travel, pay the opportunity costs of being away from work and our family, we are INVESTED. We are focused on making this big investment pay off – or at least we should be.
Individual investment is the key to a successful event, conference, or trade show, and focus is required to make this investment worth it. Why? Because no matter how hard the event organizer tries, only the individual attendee can determine how successful the event will be for them.
So, what contributes to helping your audience focus and be invested in their individual success, and, more importantly, what can you do to deliver for them?
For starters, try these three ideas:
- Know what your audience cares about: their motivations and the outcomes they are seeking. This information DOES NOT come from post-event evaluations or surveys. It comes from research, in-depth interviews, and investing in deep audience learning.
- Give your audience a job. I’ve shared this idea before, but it bears repeating. Make it clear to everyone before the event and at the opening from the stage that this event must do the job the audience has hired it to do, and that job is very personal and must be the responsibility of each individual. Without written goals for the event, how can an attendee expect to get what they want from the event?
- Answer a question. What question does your event pose and answer for the industry you serve and the audience you represent? One of the best reasons to convene an audience at a live event is to do something, make something, debate something, and produce an outcome. If, like the Pantone Color Institute (an event that selects the Color of the Year), your event doesn’t answer a critical question as a result of the investment made by you and your audience, it should, and it can.
Live events are the campfires of our era, the tribal gathering of the committed, and the antidote to the distraction of our daily lives.
Starve your distractions and feed your focus is good advice. If you are an event designer, focus on your audience, and they will repay you with their focus and loyalty.