You know what's the most uncomfortable part of any live event? The first five minutes.
The first five minutes of a date? Awkward.
The first five minutes of your first class in school? Uncomfortable.
The first five minutes of a networking event or business workshop? Terrifying.
Which means, if you're using your events for lead generation or not charging an admission fee, you need to make it worth their time. So that NEXT time, your attendees come back, with gusto and a few friends in tow.
An event's success is directly linked to how your attendees feel when they arrive and when they leave. Today, I'm talking about a few micro details that can make all the difference when creating a really amazing guest experience at your event.
1. Greet them and usher them in.
The biggest hurdle that people face when attending a live event is getting through the door. So make it easy for them to get through the door.
Station a volunteer (or yourself) to greet each person enthusiastically as they arrive, tell them the process for check-in ("Grab your nametag over here, drop your coat over there, and feel free to grab a snack in the back of the room. We'll be starting in 10 minutes, so be sure to use the restroom before that").
Once all those hurdles are cleared out, attendees feel loads more comfortable in a room where they know no one, because now they have a checklist of things to rely on. So if they don't meet anyone in the first few minutes, at least they can rely on a list of tasks that make them feel like they're doing something (and not standing at the back of the room pretending to stare at the art on the walls).
People love direction. The more direction the better. Pretend they're kindergarteners, and they'll love it. Promise.
2. Have a space for coats and extraneous stuff.
How do you feel about this scene: hanging your wet jacket on the back of your chair, tucking your wet umbrella on the floor under your feet, feeling like a sopping wet mess for two hours.
I feel yucky just saying that, and I'm sitting in the driest apartment this side of the Mississippi.
This may seem like overkill, but give people a place to put their stuff. If it's a stand up networking event, maybe invest in a little coat check area so people don't have to stash their stuff in a corner or under a cocktail table. Bonus points for a live coat checker to keep their stuff in order.
The experience of walking around an event, or even sitting and listening at an event, unencumbered with stuff makes a world of difference.
3. Have a way to introduce them to AT LEAST one person.
This may be the most important part, since the biggest hurdle that many attendees have to leap when attending a live event is that they don't know anyone. Or maybe they know one person, but who wants to spend all day talking to one person? That's why people attend live events. To MEET people.
I'm a big fan of having some carefully placed volunteers who will go out of their way to introduce themselves to attendees that may come alone. From there, if each attendee has at least one person to talk to, there's not that awkward "what am I doing here, I should just leave" feeling.
Another way to do this is to have a volunteer (or yourself) make introductions to other attendees that you may already know or are good conversationalists. So if you see someone hanging out by herself, grab her hand and say "I have someone I'd love for you to meet."
What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to attending live events? What's the most uncomfortable part? Comment below and let me know!