5 Easy Ways to Design Meaningful and Memorable Events

 A candid moment at Backbone: Courage for a Changing Workplace, an intimate D&I conference executed for my client Karen @ Racy Conversations.

A candid moment at Backbone: Courage for a Changing Workplace, an intimate D&I conference executed for my client Karen @ Racy Conversations.

Great events and spaces leave me feeling energized, connected, and inspired.

It all comes down to intention. Careful planning and creativity make it possible to weave intention into every element of your event, from your promotion emails to the registration process and post-event follow up. 

Whether organizing a small get-together, a retreat, conference, or networking event, I'm confident that you'll find success in appealing to the five senses. Yes, that's right! It's one of my favorite secrets to planning a meaningful event experience -- for any cause.

You'll make a lasting impression on your guests by appealing to the five senses - sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The experience will help create feel-good memories that establish a positive emotional connection with your brand. This is based in psychology. I'm geeking out over here.

Think back to your favorite moments. I close my eyes and can smell summer backyard BBQs. The sound of Suavemente, the merengue classic, brings me back to the fun frenzy at family parties. I remember the warmth and touch of intentional inclusivity at StartingBloc, a five-day leadership institute. Stores like Sephora make shopping fun - with their poppin' playlist, friendly staff, fragrant smells, and makeup stations. This is intentional -- by design.

THOUGHTSTARTERS

SIGHT / / /

 
 For Backbone: Courage for a Changing Workplace, we created consistency by using the visual identity and brand colors across all materials. 

For Backbone: Courage for a Changing Workplace, we created consistency by using the visual identity and brand colors across all materials. 

 
  • Design a unique visual identity and consistently use it across all materials, from email to your PowerPoint slides. Consistency is easy on the eyes and helps to establish brand awareness.
     
  • When possible, aim for venues with natural light. Decorate the space with art, green plants and fresh flower for visual appeal and comfort. 
     

SMELL & TASTE / / /

 
Event smell
 
  • Humans bond over breaking bread. The shared experience of a meal helps build trust and cooperation. I know catering costs can get out of hand quick, but if a key goal is community building, it's highly recommended to have food!
     
  • Our brain uses glucose (sugar) to fuel focus, attention, thinking, and memory-making. Have tasty and healthy treats available in the afternoon, especially for day-long activities to keep everyone's energy up.  Think fresh fruit, hummus and cold cut veggies, and nuts. Also, don't forget to order around dietary needs. It sucks to be left out or forgotten (and hungry).
     
  • Be authentic. I know this isn't necessarily olfactory, but people can 'smell' when you're not being authentic or true to yourself/the brand. 
     

HEARING / / /

Diana Ross.gif
  • Create an uplifting atmosphere with upbeat music in between breaks and during registration. You can never go wrong with Motown or Funk.
     
  • Engage your audience with video (mix of sight + hearing), but be careful. It's important to always have a tech-skilled person or A/V support handy for technical difficulties. They will happen.
     
  • Invite an engaging and entertaining Emcee to pump up the crowd. An experienced Emcee knows how to read a crowd and use exercises and activities to get the audience excited.
     

TOUCH / / /

 
 People with diabetes use compression socks for blood circulation. This inspired a fun fundraiser giveaway for the Diabetes Hands Foundation - custom socks! We worked with the  Sock Club  to design themed socks for the New Orleans-based event. They were a a huge hit! 

People with diabetes use compression socks for blood circulation. This inspired a fun fundraiser giveaway for the Diabetes Hands Foundation - custom socks! We worked with the Sock Club to design themed socks for the New Orleans-based event. They were a a huge hit! 

 
 These cute pencils symbolize the sturdiness of the backbone. I ordered these from  SwoonPartyShop  on Etsy for $1 per pencil. Such a fantastic, affordable find! What's great about branded giveaways is that your brand will get additional exposure wherever it goes. 

These cute pencils symbolize the sturdiness of the backbone. I ordered these from SwoonPartyShop on Etsy for $1 per pencil. Such a fantastic, affordable find! What's great about branded giveaways is that your brand will get additional exposure wherever it goes. 

 
  • Get creative and think beyond the branded t-shirt, water bottle, or tote bag.
     
  • Greet all guests like they're visiting your home - whether you're a volunteer or staff member.
     
  • Weave in hands-on activities, icebreakers, and team building exercises to facilitate connection, conversation, and fun.
     
  • Continue the connection with a follow-up. Provide a personal thank you, photos, and a short survey form within three business days - 48 hours at best! Don't forget to keep the conversation going, especially for future events.


What other ways you've integrated one, two, or all of the five senses into your events? I'd love to hear from you!