M&IW Industry Insights Blog

Transforming organizations through live meetings and events.

Dissecting Effective Event Design

By Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

When the novice planner is asked about the purpose of event design the answer is typically to make the room look good and create a pleasant environment. A fine answer, but is that really all there is to effective event design?

“Not at all, event design should be all encompassing and have purpose which is generally to create an environment that conveys the message and the theme of the event while staying true to the program’s overall objectives. Whether the event is a celebration, awards ceremony, meal function, workshop or general session there is always a message that needs to be conveyed. The audience does not solely listen with their ears, but they also ‘listen’ with their sight, their sense of smell, their touch, and sometimes even their sense of taste. Successful event design encompasses all the senses to produce an environment that clearly conveys the message of the program and achieves the goals. It is about engagement not simply making the room look good,” explains Alexander deHilster, Senior Event Designer with Meetings & Incentives Worldwide.

At M&IW, Alexander and his team work collaboratively with our clients and event design partners to do exactly that. In the true collective spirit of M&IW, we asked one of our long-term event design partners to provide some additional insight on effective event design.

Timot McGonagle, Senior Event Designer of Kehoe Designs, reiterated Alexander’s point with the following thoughts and tips:

The Benefits of Effective Event Design:

1. Creates an emotional attachment that produces a more permanent and lasting impression on the guests ultimately creating greater return on experience for the guests.
2. Allows the guest to feel physically part of the event while it is happening evoking the important emotional connection with every event.
3. Increases learning and aids with retention since all the attendees’ senses are engaged they can hold attention longer resulting in increased retention overall.
4. Clearly conveys the message of the event and leaves no room for interpretation.

When asked about how to attack effect event design, Timot gave the following response. “Current trends lean toward an immersive experience. Boundaries between individual event disciplines are very blurry. For instance, we see more and more that audio visual, décor, food & beverage all play a role in event design. A screen is no longer solely used to communicate content, but can be a visual work of art or message board for the program’s objectives. True event design is working in a cohesive manner and blending all facets of the event to reach the objective.”

Alexander and Timot also both agree that it is best to be in close contact with the client to discover goals and request all materials on event from graphic support, theme, messaging, and anything else that can inspire the design. Ultimately the design reflects the nuances of the message.

Do’s and Don’ts from our Senior Event Designers include:

1. Do conduct a site visit before designing. Each project has its own energy as does every space. Immersed in the actual venue helps to bring out the creative vision.
2. Do make every detail count! Find a few details and layer them for a more cohesive event.
3. Do Utilize elements that will play to all the senses.
4. Do hire professionals to get the most value out of your investment.
5. Don’t make event design an afterthought. Bring all the team players together early in the process.
6. Don’t forget to discuss budget up front. There are many ways to approach event design. And, budget often determines the right path to start.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Program Management & Event Design

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