This article is originally written for and published in Forbes Russia
Event organizers constantly improve their performance and apply new ways to make an event of maximum value to participants. Psychology, sociology and neuroscience are exactly those fields that help improve events’ quality substantially. It’s no surprise though: any business event is a concentration of people’s interaction in all its diversity. Applying cognitive and behavioral sciences to planning and execution of events would help organizers to better understand and even forecast their participants’ actions and feelings.
Providing quality is a priority task, first of all, to the organisers. However, conference goers, trade show visitors and congress attendees are seeking to get max out of the event, too. So next time you’re going to the event, what can you do to make your attendance efficient based on knowledge from psychology and related sciences?
In Full Gear
Education and networking are two key reasons for attending business events. Surely, nobody wants to get out of the conference with empty hands – that is, with empty head: we all want maximum amount of knowledge. Besides, we are looking to strengthen and expand our business relationships. That is why it is crucial new meetups as well as discussions with current business partners go smooth and beneficial.
How do we solve these tasks using cognitive science, social psychology and other areas?
Hermann Ebbinghaus, German psychologist who studied memory, demonstrated in his experiments that people tend to forget up to 50% of information within the following hour. Next day we remember just ⅓ of what we learnt yesterday (at the event, for example). Today’s research just reiterate his conclusions.
The good news is that acting in a certain way at the event, you would be able to change the numbers in your favour. So what do you need to do ?
- have some rest. Take breaks between portions of information – even if the agenda suggested by the organisers does not imply it. Switching from ‘work’ to ‘rest’ and vice versa helps our brains better digest all new stuff.
- have good sleep. Same experiments by Ebbinghaus established that lack of sleep is one of three major factors affecting how well we remember things. That means, the less sleep you have – the less chances are that your brain would be capable to hold back knowledge you are after. And vice versa.
- write it down. Yep, take notes, and do it old-fashioned way – by hand, and not typing on your laptop or smartphone. Researches suggest there is a connection between the way notes are taken and efficiency of learning and retaining information. In the first case you’ll be able to learn and remember much more.
Networking is New King
Even if you missed/forgot something during the session or master classes, today it is not a problem. It can be easily – at least in part – recouped with video/audio recordings, presentations and other materials available for participants after the meeting. What can not be made up, however, is numerous talks and meetups during the event. Despite this fact is known to everybody attending a conference/congress, only a few prepare themselves for the networking consciously. Yet this is precisely why communications is a bottleneck so often. To solve it, make sure you do the following (at least):
- plan your meetups ahead. Find out who is taking part in the same event from your colleagues and friends. In case you are the newcomer or feel uncomfortable (for various reasons) it will help tremendously to not feel yourself an outsider and start conversations with more ease. The most effective strategy though is to acquire new contacts and establish new business relationships. For that you would need to make a list of those you’d like to meet up with in person – perhaps you could even set up date and time in advance.
- do not sheer away from your opponents. Social psychology researches show that humans are quite lazy in building social connections. Such connections are therefore made on the basis of having similar views, beliefs and personality traits etc. Communicating with people with a different point of view would help look at the matter from different perspective and perhaps, would bring up creative solutions to your issue.
Incredible as it may seem, the main thing in the event is what happens afterwards. For your participation to pay off, and insights and inspiration received to be converted into specific actions, make sure you use at least the following two methods based on psychology of motivation:
- before the event starts, think over which actions you’d like to take in view of its outcomes. It can be anything really – from signing partner agreement to certain number of prospective customers to writing a book or organising your own event.
- at the end of the event, take some time and write down once again what you’d like to change and – important! – how you understand these changes are happening. According to Edward Locke’s goal-setting theory, setting specific goals is one of key factors influencing performance. In other words, big changes include small steps; the more measurable and detailed these steps are, the better.
And last, but not least: try and put yourself in a good mood. It definitely contributes to having effective learning, interesting conversations and excellent aftertaste of any business event.