Understanding the mind of your delegates can inform the way you organise events, said Raimond Torrents, meeting designer and general manager at Event Management Institute.
Speaking at ibtm World in November, Torrents said events are best thought of as a way of communicating, with the aim of influencing an audience to behave in a way that is in the interest of the organiser.
"Psychology can help us to better know our audience. It can help us to know better how the public react, what they like, what motivates them and what discourages them," Torrents said.
"[At an event] we want to surprise, in order to be relevant, notable, and memorable to our audience. There are many ways to surprise, many ways to achieve the so-called ‘wow’ effect.”
Torrents presented conclusions drawn from a research paper, where a group of nine psychologists looked for scientific explanations to answer critical questions.
The research paper, titled Events and persuasion: From the message to behaviour, looked at audience behaviour at an event, how motivation and surprise work, and why people identify themselves with certain groups.
Torrents also shared a few successful strategies:
How can we surprise?
- Use something improbable in an otherwise a concrete scenario.
- An intensive activity, either visual or using sound.
- In more general terms, storytelling helps keep the audience's attention.
- Introduce something new without notice.
How can we make people part of a group?
- Identify common elements shared by all group members. Make them obvious and it will be easy for people to feel part of a group.
- Knowing the characteristics of a group can define how successful an event is.
Why do people identify themselves with certain groups?
- People identify with groups with whom they share objectives, experiences, personal characteristics, hobbies or share similar emotions with.
What were the main conclusions of the research?
- Psychology and sociology are fundamental to understanding the behaviour of the public at events.
- Psychology tells us that emotions are key if we want to motivate an audience.
- Without emotion, you will lose the attention of the audience. Without their attention, they won’t remember what was said.
- Without memory, there is no reaction, there is no behaviour and there is no persuasion.
Torrents predicted that future research into neuroscience would reveal what stimulates our brains and how it manages emotions. These will be crucial in designing events and effective messages that influence target audiences.
This article was first published on C&IT