Humans are sensing beings. We explore the world with our bodies, capturing and processing information through our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Live events are an amazing way to invite every sense into the learning process. And the best live event strategy takes this into consideration.
While we might think of eyes and ears as the most important sensory gateways for meetings, the other senses are just as powerful. For example, Sense of Smell Institute says we remember 65% more of what we smell as well as see or hear—even one year later. Researcher Martin Lindstrom also has shown brand impact can increase by 70% by engaging at least three senses. For greatest impact and lasting ROI, design your event to reach all five senses.
Engaging multiple senses can happen through environmental design, or through educational content and the activities you offer. For your attendees, a five-sense event deepens their overall experience. It reaches their primary decision making tool—their emotions—as well as their intellect. And it keeps today’s shorter attention spans more engaged.
Also think of your multi-sensory experience as a chance to explore “sensory metaphors” for your brand. If brought to life, how would your brand sound? Smell? Taste? By translating your brand’s personality into an unforgettable multi-sensory experience, you build understanding, connection and loyalty in new ways.
Here are areas of experience to consider enriching the senses at your next meeting:
Start with the eyes, always. This is the most obvious feature of any event, but there is always more you can do to create a visual feast. You can engage all other senses, yes, but if you neglect to focus on visual appeal and organization first, you won’t make much of an impression. Color, size, movement and design are all part of the equation. Ensure that your event is engaging this foundational sense well first. Then layer the other four sense on top of your strong visual presence for a truly memorable meeting.
The tongue isn’t just for enjoying refreshments. It can help attendees reinforce concepts and solidify their memory of content as well. Could you include noshables as part of your educational activities? Or turn break time into an opportunity for flavor pairings that your attendees won’t expect? What about representing different aspects of your brand, or your event’s main message, using different foods? Think outside the box on this. When in doubt, look to your host city or theme for ideas on how to infuse more tasting into your event experience.
The nose is a powerful sensory mechanism for creating emotional associations. What scents would you want attendees to associate with your event? Consider how aromas might be used in hallways, breakout rooms and your keynote or gala space to evoke a mood. Or simply add them as an extra layer of delight. Could scent also play a role in your keynote address itself? Might you use fragrances to help guide attendees down different halls or into different sessions? Consider taste-able fragrances and mists attendees can sample. And as with taste, take scent inspiration from the signature scents of your host city.
Music plays such a huge role in human perception. You can use this wonderful tool to help you shape and shift the tenor of your event. Think about the energetic “feel” of your schedule: when do you need attendees to muster all their energy, and when do you need them (or want to invite them) to feel calmer? Your choice of music—including live performing acts, solo musicians and pre-recorded selections—can help you achieve those shifts. Speed up or slow down the rhythm of your event based on what type of music you choose to use.
“Touch” at events can refer to many aspects of experience, but a simple place to start is texture. Consider the tactile feel of materials and objects as your attendees interact with your space. Choose furnishings, flooring and interactive elements that provide rich sensation. Also consider layering of materials or environmental features such as stage elements to provide a richer aesthetic? What about chairs and tablecloths with some “weave” to them rather than smoothness? Texture can addresses multiple senses at once, but touch is the most powerful.
Wondering how to start transitioning your traditional meeting into a multi-sensory experience? Here are a few popular event tools that can help reach the five senses right away:
- Projection Mapping (sight/texture)
- Large-screen touch interactives (touch/sight/hearing)
- Flavored fragrances and mists to sample (smell/taste)
- Mood music—drums for energy, classical music for thinking, etc. (hearing/sight)
- Artistic performances (potentially all the senses!)
- Luxurious upgrades for food service, way-finding and decor (sight/smell/taste/touch)
As you are working towards elevating the sensory profile of your event, be sure to consider the cumulative effects of your plans. Sensory details should be chosen carefully. Yes, you want to engage each sense when possible, but too much of anything can begin to feel like a circus. Whenever possible, look for elements that can appeal to several senses at once.
Take inspiration from a particular locale or environment that you can “recreate” at your event
Look to the history of your host city, or something in your brand history, for inspiration. Be creative! Start by walking through your event strategically and ask yourself how you are engaging the various senses at each activity or time.
You might be surprised at the amazing opportunities you find to make your next meeting a feast for all the senses.Want a boost on your multi-sensory event planning, with the help of some brilliant minds? The team at LSAV POWERHOUSE is ready to help you turn your next meeting into the kind of sensory delight that makes a big impression. Check out our portfolio and contact us to schedule a consultation.