All right, so IMEX America 2019 is now over, and I’d like to share how it was (Spoiler: it was awesome 🙂 )
First, of course – I got to speak about #eventpsychology! While I was already very excited about the opportunity to share insights on applying psychology and neuroscience to events with fellow eventprofs, I got even more excited when I saw a packed seminar room with people even standing around. That gave me some goosebumps! Event community’s interest in the topic has been definitely growing. I can say that from what I see shared online; from my very own session experience; and by looking at IMEX agenda where quite a number of similar topics have been included this year (e.g. measurement of emotions; improvement of learning and networking experience based on science, etc).
Second, I’d like to share three cool things I’ve got to experience first hand at IMEX which – no wonder – are highly related to my favourite subject above and in particular, to the concept of engagement I talked – among other things – during my presentation. Find out what these 3 things are:
IMEX’s exhibitors are never short of creativity. You can find all sorts of great ideas implemented at every booth aimed to attract visitors: from Channing Tatum and Bradley Cooper wax figures (looking very much alive), to giant chairs to flowering lady. What I keep noticing from this and other tradeshows though is that of all ideas the most winning are those that invite to co-create or co-experience. A few examples from IMEX19: a live box training session at Thailand booth; a ‘send-a-postcard from Taiwan’ activity; a traditional Maori tattooing at New Zealand booth; or building a bespoke wine stopper at GES stand (below).
There was one common thing between all those: participants are actively involved in a designated activity. And this is exactly what makes it stand out, increases engagement and becomes a meaningful, potentially business-developing action.
The science is clear about co-creation’s positive effect. This study, for example, shows that “co-creating with consumers can be a strategic method to positively influence product perceptions and behavioral intentions”. Another study suggests that sharing co-creation activities contributes to consumer satisfaction. In addition, we should not forget about IKEA effect – a cognitive bias which makes people value things they co-created, much higher. What’s behind it? Here is a comprehensive answer: “The effect has a range of possible explanations, such as positive feelings (including feeling of competence) that come with successful completion of a task, a focus on the product’s positive attributes, the relationship between effort and liking (Norton et al., 2012), a link between our creations and our self-concept (Marsh et al., 2018), as well as psychological sense of ownership (Sarstedt et al., 2017)”
Nook Event Pods
I was marching towards the exit at the end of the day when I saw a cute little half-‘house’ where two gentlemen had conversation. I got curious and slowed down when David and Dan invited me to take a seat. It turned out the house I wondered about was a cozy and super multifunctional space created to fill many needs of both event organisers and event audience. As much as I liked the product itself (it’s portable, and noise dampening, and customizable) I enjoyed learning about the concept behind it. It’s all about eliminating friction and distraction on attendee’s way to better event experience.
This is how it relates to event psychology. The scientific findings suggest that the more comfortable environment is, the more we get engaged, focused and satisfied (also read about importance of attendee comfort in Professional Meeting Management: A Guide to Meetings, Conventions, and Events). By providing comfortable, intimate and easy-to-set environment, Nook actually helps organisers show they care about attendees’ needs, be that charging their phones or having a meeting, or just relaxing quietly on their own. What is the result? A happy participant – exactly what event planners aim to get.
Laughter Yoga Sessions
When I was working on my presentation for IMEX19, I was excited to share laughter yoga session as an example of practical activity that – as I know – not many people are aware about (not to speak of practicing it!). Yet, it’s brings together so many benefits that in my view, it should be a must-do for any event. Judge for yourself: it’s fun (this is a core); it’s healthy (this is yoga, remember?); and it helps spreading positive emotions among the group of people gathered together.
Such combination is definitely a winning one, also from science perspective. Laughter, as proved by researches, influences our body (burns calories, increases heart rate and respiration, stimulates immune system) and mind: it reduces stress and improves our memory and focus. Yoga element is about relaxation, mindfulness and concentration. Sharing positive emotions that come with laughter and yoga, contributes to overall satisfaction with the event experience. So I’d say of all possible event-related activities laughter yoga sessions are one of those few deeply rooted in psychology.
Now, imaging my surprise when I opened IMEX agenda to find… laughter yoga sessions introduced exactly this year! What a great coincidence, I thought. Surely, I made a note to take part, and a Laughter Lab by Sarah and Rachael did not disappoint.
What’s my key point here? I guess what I’m trying to say is that psychology/behaviour sciences/neuroscience – whether you practice it or not for your events – are already part of event design.
The question is, would you like to master it to be able to make your event truly impactful? If yes, let me know.