Your palms sweat. Your heart races. Adrenalin pulses through your veins.
The closer you get to the main entrance, the more your body is on high alert. Part of you wants to run away as fast as possible. Part of you wants to stay and conquer.
Finally, it’s your turn.
You sit in the small car. Put on the seat belt and pull the overhead safety harness down around you.
The bell rings and the cars jerk forward. Slowly, the cars are pulled up a large hill with the clack of the track and the rhythm of the gears.
Your excitement builds as you reach the top of the hill. Your senses are at full throttle as you suddenly scream like a child. You are barreling down the track at 60 mph. Death-defying loops, hairpin turns, corkscrews, surprise tunnels, banks and turns send your heart in your throat and your stomach in your shoes. Your body is flung up, down, upside down and sideways. It all seems to defy gravity.
It comes to a halt and you exit while talking rapidly to your friends about your experience. Everyone is sharing something. You’re ready to do it again.
You are enjoying the highs and lows, the peaks and valleys, the unexpected elements of the Scream Machine Roller Coaster.
Your Event Emotional Roller Coaster
Much like the amusement park roller coaster, most annual meetings and events produce emotional peaks and valleys. Attendees experience the ups and downs, sideway jerks, occasional upside down loops or sudden stops of the event.
Some of the emotions were incidental. Some were intentionally orchestrated by the meeting professional. Most of the attendees’ feelings are happenstance, secondary to the conference plans.
Conference and event organizers are ultimately responsible for setting the emotional highs and lows of their event. Although rarely do event professionals intentionally consider the emotional flow.
The Event Ho-Hum Train Ride
Imagine a roller coaster built exclusively on logistics without any thought given to riders’ experience. All of the pieces are organized well. It’s safe and risk free. The experience makes it around the track without any hiccups.
Yet the event feels all too familiar. It’s like uneventful obligatory amusement park train ride. Cautious, common, predictable with changing landscapes only.
The clackety-clack of the track’s lectures lull attendees to sleep. Riders are like spectators watching an event and wishing it had some emotional ecstasy. They are craving an event organism and faking it so they are not rude to the conference organizers who sweated for days planning the event. Yet they will talk about the uneventful experience with their friends, families and even enemies. And not in a positive way. It’s a ticketed-event experience without a payout.
The ho-hum train ride is not something thrill-seeking attendees would scream with excitement and want to ride again. It’s more like a ride people want to experience when they are nauseous and tired. It’s a flat-line experience.
If we compared the emotional experience of most annual meetings and events to an amusement park ride, what would it be? What type of amusement park experience do you want for the events or conferences you attend? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
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