The days of isolated events or products have gone. Instead, today you'll be expected to deliver experiences.
Memorable experiences that delight, that navigate around pain points, that reduce friction, and do so very much more.
Yeah, you're right. It's anything but easy. Still, this Playbook is here to help. Save it and use these diverse models for your next experience — no matter if it's a conference, a virtual workshop, or even a birthday celebration.
How many people are you gathering together? If it's a large conference, you might want to consider breaking into smaller networking sub-groups and, to do that, you'll definitely want to consider Dumbar's Number.
Take another look at your planned experience with your understanding of Activation Energy. Those 'getting started' moments are the hardest points and will often be your fail-points, so how can you help to support your audience and make those entry points as easy as possible?
On the point of creating ease and even reducing friction, you might want to add Nudges to your design. The fact is, your audience will be on automatic pilot for most of the time, like you, me and the rest of humanity. So how can you make desired behaviours Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely?
This model is usually posed in terms of high performing and innovative teams — but it also applies to experiences. You want your audience to connect, speak out, network, learn? They need to have a sense of trust and Psychological Safety. Think about how you'll lay the groundwork for this before they even arrive.
It's an obvious one — design thinking starts from a place of empathy to design end-to-end experiences rather than just events or moments.
One possible journey that you map might be inspired by the Hero's Journey. The template for almost all Holywood blockbusters and breakout novels, this model creates a familiar archetype that you can subtly guide your audience through in real life. There might not be dragons to slay, but you can provide obstacles, mentors and quests.
You know your audience and you've begun to design the broad brushstrokes of the experience you want to deliver them. But, why would they care? Use the Value Proposition to quickly capture 'what's in it for them.'
And, continuing the theme of automatic pilot. Another way of looking at it is the mix between Focused versus Diffuse Thought. Are you designing your experience for periods of high engagement and uninterrupted focus, followed by opportunities to 'play' and let diffuse thinking absorb, connect and process?
A common companion with Design Thinking, Journey Mapping can help you understand your audiences' current journey and pain points, but also can capture your planned experiential design. Indeed, I'd recommend using it as the centre-piece of your experience design process.
The Zeigarnik Effect is a reminder that cliffhangers embed in memory, so use them strategically over an extended experience, particularly to create follow up messaging or reflection after an 'official end'.
How will your audience judge the experience? This model is a reminder to focus on key, amazing and memorable moments, plus ensuring that the journey has a powerful end. Don't believe me? Click into the model to view the amazing colonoscopy study that backed up this approach.
That's a powerful starter kit that you have there. Now, what will you do with it and where will you take your audience?