As I was walking into an auditorium for a workshop, several people were walking out. Participants were grumbling about how they were not allowed to take any beverages inside with them, so they were returning mugs and water bottles to their cars. In the lobby, the discontent was more evident as staff at the theater door told those entering that they needed to leave all beverages on the hallway table.
I estimate that at least half of the participants brought something to drink. It was a 7 a.m. start and many had coffee or other forms of caffeine, plus others brought bottles of water in preparation for the 3.5-hour event. Now they began their day earlier than usual, without their typical fix of caffeine or hydration, and their first encounter at the event was to be told "no" before they sat through a workshop for the morning.
Most event organizers know how important the first few minutes are to set the tone for the entire event, and this did not start the day as one would have hoped.
My question is why did it have to be this way? Why would organizers waste an opportunity to say "yes" to something so simple that added to the comfort and convenience of their guests?
Because it appeared that the big picture and overall experience of the program wasn't taken into account.
The committee attended to the speaker and his needs, but it seemed that no one designed it to be a memorable event. Did anyone picture the participants walking in at 7 a.m. with Starbucks or Camelbacks in their hands and consider what their first impression would be like? The policy says no beverages in the auditorium and no one had the forethought to rescind it for the day, or to go one step further and actually provide beverages or other forms of comfort for those in attendance.
The content was fantastic and by the end the initial inconvenience may have been forgotten. But the "speaker" could have had greater impact as "an event" if planned effectively. The next time you provide some personal development, add some personal touches to your program. Look at the logistics of the whole from the perspective of the participants and see if you can't "wow" instead of "wallop" right from the very start.
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