Notes on Design: A Roadmap For Your Event
Working as a Creative Director in the world of events for many years, I have executed hundreds of events. One of the things that the teams of people who work on events for a living focus on in the course of planning is the flow of the event.
What is flow and why is it important?
Flow is basically the movement of guests through an event or experience. If an event is structured well, there will be a series of happenings along that course that will build on each other and create an exciting and enjoyable experience for attendees.
It is important because it helps your guests understand and enjoy the unfolding moments and get the most out of them.
Over the course of an event there are certain things that you want to make sure your guests understand – where to go, when certain things are happening, what they should be wearing or doing so that they can get the maximum enjoyment out of the experience.
It is also great to allow for moments of surprise and delight throughout the course of an event but not at the expense of making your guests feel uncertain about what will happen or what your expectations of them are.
I have been to events where guests are not sure how long certain elements will be or if when they will be getting to eat or drink that makes them unsure of how to pace themselves and what to do.
But beyond clearly messaging to your guests the basics of how your event will unfold, there is the joyful job of putting together the building blocks of a magical experience.
I often think of the path of an event like a bell curve – starting slowly, building to a peak of excitement and energy and then gently slowing down so that when it is time to go, everyone feels satisfied and is ready to leave.
You can create this arc with a variety of elements – music, food, entertainment, and activities. The music is perhaps most obvious – you can begin with something softer and slower as guests arrive and get acclimated. As the event progresses increase the tempo and energy, particularly if you want guests to dance. If you are having live music it is worth considering having 2 different groups for cocktails and dinner/dancing.
Likewise, food can help take your guests on a journey throughout the event. Starting with lighter elements during the earlier part of the evening will satiate your guests without making them feel weighed down, later in the evening heartier fare will be appreciated.
Within the framework of your event having surprise moments is a great way to infuse energy and create memorable moments. The reveal of something like a candy bar or make your own sundae during dessert can add extra excitement at the end of an evening. Or having some kind of roving entertainment or specialty station – a photo booth, custom temporary tattoos, a magician or similar can provide memorable extras for your guests.
And finally, as a last note to an event, having some kind of fun takeaway for guests is always delightful. It does not have to be fancy – it could be a cup of hot cocoa or a warm chocolate chip cookie on a cold evening or a mini bouquet of wildflowers in summer – but will give your guests something to smile about after the event has ended.
So as a foundation you want to create a framework for guests in which the outline of the event is communicated clearly through a variety of means– invitations, signage and verbal. Once you have set up the framework, you then have the opportunity to create a dramatic and emotional journey through the course of the event.
This edition of Notes on Design is brought to you by award-winning event designer Meg Gleason. Meg has done everything from multi-million dollar celebrity weddings to fantastical pop-up stores to outdoor events for thousands. She is always thinking about how to do something new and surprising, but here she shares the foundations of what make every event successful, no matter the size or budget.