How to Create an Experiential Event

Are attendees zoning out and going comatose at your events or corporate meetings? They may have contracted Conference Coma.

Conference Coma is the debilitating epidemic plaguing boardrooms and conference halls across the globe. Symptoms include: open-eye napping, compulsive texting, Tweeting, and swiping right, and, in severe cases, post-event amnesia. To combat the debilitating effects of conference coma, experts recommend a healthy dose of experiential corporate events.

Keeping team members engaged and involved during keynote events and meetings is not just about entertainment, it’s also about improving comprehension, information retention, and boosting performance.

According to Harvard Magazine, experiential learning is multi-sensory and participative. It is highly effective because it engages the senses in a way that promotes learning and comprehension on multiple levels. The same hands-on, experiential learning concept can be applied to the business world. While the feedback from experiential keynote events are undeniably positive, the possibilities for greater comprehension and information retention are even more worthwhile. The out-of-the-box approach means that each event can be uniquely tailored to speak to your audience and get team members involved, and learning.

Here are a few curative ideas to implement into your next event:

Use Tech as a Tool

Use every resource available to engage audience members, especially technology. Keynote speakers who utilize apps and interactive technology add a hands-on element that keeps audiences invested in meetings. For example, technology and futurist speaker Tan Le utilizes a live “mind reading” demonstration with her Emotiv headset to get the audience thinking in new ways about innovation.

Laugh it up

Who said meetings had to be so serious? More businesses are incorporating games into their experiential meetings to get people moving, thinking, and laughing. Take Adam Christing, who use improv games, magic, and comedy to tackle major organizational culture issues. Incorporating games and humor into your meeting is not only fun, but also a great way to drive home a message that your teams won’t forget.

Incorporate visual and sensory experiences

Music and art can help create an immersive conference experience that grabs attention and enhances retention. For example, Daymond John brings in a DJ to create a memorable and experiential keynote. Pop/Rock recording artist Steve Acho gathers information from clients to create an original song about their company. And Chic Streetman uses storytelling, music, and theater techniques in his workshop to help participants strengthen their ability to connect with others.

Use an emcee or host

An emcee or host can connect the dots of each message, provide surprise, humor, and strategic truth-telling. Comedic hosts like Taylor Hughes also prime the audience for the keynote speaker by raising audience energy levels right before the speaker steps on stage.

Create a theme for your event or meeting

Creating a theme around your corporate meeting or keynote event gets everyone thinking on the same page and highlights the desired takeaway message of the event. For example, a team building event with the Afterburner fighter-pilots could be themed “flawless execution” or a corporate meeting with Juliet Funt could be centered around the theme of reclaiming time to think, or what she calls “white space.”

Award your event attendees

An awards celebration is another potential end-of-conference activity to keep attendees engaged. The awards should be given for participation in the conference, not for success in event games or questions answered correctly. This encourages people to stick around to see if they win and energizes them to participate in the first place.

Deliver the content that you would want to stay for

This one should be obvious, but the most surefire way to keep attendees at your conference is by delivering thought-provoking and insightful content that they won’t get anywhere else. If attendees genuinely feel like they’d miss out on a valuable experience if they weren’t there, then they won’t leave early unless they absolutely have to.

Use data to personalize the experience 

Nowadays there are event technology vendors that will help you gather data about what your audience wants. By collecting data beforehand in a survey or questionnaire, you can personalize the type of engagement to your audience’s preferences. Do you guest want to network and freely chat or would they prefer a more structured keynote? Maybe they want a moderated talk or a more intimate Q&A with your speaker. With event technology vendors you can specifiy your event to be EXACTLY what your audience wants.

Don’t forget the basics

Good food, enticing venues, engaging speakers, unexpected delights, and meaningful music/staging go a long way! Also, make sure all of the speaker’s content supports each other and the purpose of your event/meeting, without being repetitive.

Follow these tips and you’re on your way to curing conference coma by creating an engaging, memorable, and comprehensive keynote event or corporate meeting.