When: Wednesday, August 3rd 2016
Venue: Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Cost: $209.00 (group rate for 3+)
What: ElevateDC is a full-day conference, welcoming approximately 400 attendees from all walks of the conference and event planning industry including vendors, planners, and marketers.
Key Takeaway #1: Tools for captivating an audience and keeping their attention
Ben Parr, author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, led the day’s opening session with a stimulating presentation on attention and memory. We first learned that there are three stages of attention: immediate, short, and long, which he compared to the progression of a fire beginning with kindling (immediate) and leading to a bonfire (long). Immediate attention is the automatic response, the sort of attention that triggers fight or flight. Short attention is the kind required to focus on a task at hand, such as taking a test or playing Pokemon Go (the ever relevant example of many things these days). Long attention is the difference between you reaching out to people and people coming to you.
There are also seven triggers for attention, including automaticity, disruption, and acknowledgement to name a few. Automaticity is the trigger of contrast, such as spotting something bright red in a crowd of dark blue, or association, such as the smell of a freshly baked cookies with positive memories of being a child or enjoying something sweet.
Warmth, such as holding a cup of hot coffee, makes people more generous, which is why serving coffee or tea in a business meeting makes strategic sense – as long as the person is physically holding it when you’re making the deal! Disruption is our memory for bizarre things. Many might recall the “Don’t buy this jacket” Patagonia campaign. It’s a shocking marketing ploy since usually you are being encouraged to buy. The point of the ad was to show how well-guaranteed the product is, that you shouldn’t need to buy a new jacket because you have a lifetime warranty, and it supports the company’s value of green consciousness, minimizing waste and contributing to a healthier planet. The disruption matches the values of the brand. Finally, we wanted to highlight acknowledgement, as this applies particularly well to the events industry. The concept here is that we pay attention to the people that pay attention to us. Always remember to validate your audience and enable participation. Your attendees will feel appreciated and therefore be more inclined to listen to what you have to say and contribute.
In a later session, we learned the importance of activating as many of the five senses as possible to ensure your attendees connect with, and ultimately remember, your event. Barry Rhinehart of MIG events explained the life-cycle of an event as a courting, of sorts. You begin by flirting with the audience or your client, showing your interest and ideally receiving some interest in return. You then gravitate to the dating phase, where you inquire into the other person or attendees, learning what makes them tick – what are their likes/dislikes, what are they passionate about, what are their goals, etc. Once the date goes well, you fall in “love,” which is to say you take the relationship long-term. Post-event follow-up here is critical to your success. In order to keep the relationship alive after the date you must show that you care, and that they are more than that one event. Here are some ways to trigger these feelings of connection during an event through activation of the five senses.
To be continued…
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