The Sense to Remember
Researchers have indicated that memory is the strongest when all five senses are involved.
This knowledge can be a powerful tool when executing an event of any kind. From creating a memorable gala that leaves guests raving about the experience and planning to return again next year to facilitating a strong learning environment at a conference that sparks lasting inspiration based on retained knowledge.
Each of the five senses can play an important role in the experience that people have at an event or conference, whether consciously or unconsciously. Your event planner is there to help you tie together a seamless experience that stimulates each of the senses.
Establishing a theme for your event, whether it is overt or not, can assist you in creating a fluid experience which will only strengthen the impact of the senses on memory.
Sight though doesn’t even have to be complex; it can be as simple as room layout. Are chairs and tables appropriately spaced? Are food stations in reasonable proximity to each other and to stations with coffee, water and utensils? Are lines of sight clear for everyone in the room? Are there levels that allow for easier view of the speakers or are the aides such as projection screens that give guests a closer view of the stage? The simplest of considerations can help building appealing room that can create a lasting impression and create comfort.
That being said people are largely visual beings; a vast space such as a convention centre is a veritable canvas for the imagination. Everything that you need is there or can be added; allow your imagination build upon the standard atmosphere and set-ups. There are many different elements that you can use to refresh the visual experience of your event; add plants, lighting, projections, different coloured pipe and drape, chair covers, ceiling décor. There are so many options of what you can do visually; find concepts that work with your event and tie together the elements of your event.
Sound can speak to the actual quality of sound for your event or within your sessions for your speakers. However sound can offer you the opportunity to try something different. Consider this, why not start the day with music to energize your guests? Find some of those tracks that are great for starting your day, songs that motivate you, inspire you and give you the courage and strength to take on the day.
During breaks you could even offer guests space to converse and a space to have a 5 minute dance party, Ellen would approve! Music can be a great energizer that relaxes people and opens them up to new ideas and possibilities.
Music can be in the background, it can be in the foreground. It can be anything from popular music to the sounds of a rainforest to a live musician; plan music that is relevant to your event and your guests. Think about your event and how you can work memorable sounds into your planning.
When we think about touch, we think about the tactile feel of something, like how comfortable a chair is. Touch though can also be about what we’re not touching; it can be about the space in a room and one’s ability to navigate the environment comfortably and smoothly. Touch about the physical comfort that people have in the safe, whether it be through touch or a lack of touch.
Smell can be the trickiest of the senses plan for. A number of conferences choose to have scent free environments showing consideration for delegates with intolerances and even extreme allergies to various fragrances. If allergies are not a concern floral arrangements, for example, can be used to not only add a visual element to your event but a fragrant one as well. If scent allergies are a concern the safest route for appeasing the sense of smell lies within your menu. An old real estate trick is to bake cookies before an open house. The same type of idea can work for your event; the smell of fresh brewed speciality coffee, fresh baked cookies, barbecue, stir-fry, each of these things often have very distinctive and appealing aromas. Work with your event planner and the chef to plan a menu that stimulates your sense of smell.
While the scent of food is great, the taste of it can be the ultimate experience. Plan a meal that will go beyond satisfaction for your guests. Having an idea of what you want for your meal is a great starting point. Once you have an idea for your meal, leverage the knowledge and experience of your event planner and the chef. Often these people work with hundreds of clients, receiving feedback and comments that have assisted them in determining which items are fan favourites and which items are left on plates and serving trays. If you have a theme for your event, use that to inspire your meal. Repetition works to a point, but add in some variation offering people selection and choice. For example a three day conference with three breakfasts likely shouldn’t have three identical meals, change up your hot elements each day to add variety; three dinners should offer different proteins, starches and vegetables.
The five sense are something we all learned about as children in elementary school. While we understand each of the five senses, we often forget to consider them beyond our sometimes subconscious experience of them. While you are planning your next event take a step back and look at how you might be able to touch of each of the senses in a way the unites them and sparks greater memories.
Think about your best memories. What can you see? What can you hear? What do you smell? Can you taste anything? Feel anything? Our senses build memories, so let’s work to plan for the senses.