Written by David Jamilly.
A question for you – what does psychology have to do with party planning, event management, production and design?
The answer? Everything.
For over thirty years Theme Traders has been organising lavish bashes for private clients including celebrities, royalty and the international jet-set.
At Theme Traders the extensive internal training programme for event managers has always placed great emphasis on the module entitled ‘psychology of events’. This includes how to orchestrate an event so that it becomes a symphony to the ears of a wide ranging multi-cultural clientele.
Everybody is different and no two events are ever the same. Therefore, the design process of an event needs to be treated in a similar way to the scripting of a world class theatrical production or the score for an opera. The goal being to transport the client on an immersive emotional voyage that will engage all the senses and become a lasting lifelong memory. Indeed, a well-produced event can become a life transformational experience both for the client and their guests.
The primary starting point is to truly understand your client. This can involve some academic research but in reality, relies on great communication and listening skills which mainly come from experience, application and worldliness. Needless to say, a genuine passion for people and events is also an absolutely vital prerequisite and something each of our team possess.
Communication skills and passion are in essence what separates the great event producers from the mediocre and the professionals from the amateurs.
The second most important fundamental is the background of the guests and their connection to the client as well as their broad profile and expectation levels. If this information is not gathered and assimilated correctly then it becomes almost impossible to fulfil the expectations of the direct client themselves.
The third imperative is to understand what your client thinks they want to achieve from the event and what they think are their ultimate goals. In many cases what is presented is not the real or underlying motivation because the client may not have rationalised and internalised this sufficiently to understand it themselves.
The understanding of potential underlying motivations is an essential element in the event design process as it will be integral to the event’s direction and activation. Only through this is it possible to unlock the magic required to create a masterful production.
This brief introduction to the psychology of events is meant as an introductory taster to a fascinating and complex subject. Here follow six top tips:
The event actually starts from the first contact with the client. It is from this point that their expectations and anticipation start to build. The planning process is an integral part of the clients voyage and in some cases can be of more importance and enjoyment than the activation itself.
The five W’s are often cited as the building blocks for project and design development. In terms of the psychology of events it is the Who/Why/What that should be the emphasis. Inexperienced event planners tend to focus on the Where/When.
Reveals and surprise elements and smoke and mirrors are tricks of the trade that alter the mood of an event and should be used like musical phrases to flow from one passage to another.
The first impressions and meet and greet are probably the most important foundations for a successful event. If clumsily produced or botched it will have a lasting negative effect on the event as a whole. With social interaction it is said that someone makes 11 judgments on you in the first 7 seconds. This is very similar with events and it can take up to one hour and ongoing to undo a negative first impression.
Continual and ongoing knowledge of current trends, fashions, restaurants/hotels and media/arts/politics is essential to the ability to communicate with a client. Understanding lifestyle patterns is part of this process, as is the need to be fully conversant with local customs and protocol.
Engage all five senses and try to aim to engage the sixth as well. There are many easy techniques to engage all five senses. Inexperienced designers will focus on the obvious ones of sight/sound/taste. More experienced planners will weave in touch/smell with aplomb. Genius organisers will understand the relevance of the sixth sense as well which involves group and collective consciousness.