“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
― Stephen Hawking
In a time where we have become complacent or solely focused on bringing together an experience for our events, driven by possibly uninformed decisions, we forget to utilize a key resource we all have. The resource of speech.
The Limitations of Digital Communication
The ability to talk to one another so we can understand different views, wants and needs. But, as we shift toward a more digitally-based environment, text-to-text becomes much more common than voice-to-voice. When we isolate our communication to text only, we miss out on the deepest levels of interaction by forgoing our ability to parse through misunderstandings in real time and understand the emphasis placed on different areas of the conversation. Text simply doesn’t convey emotion effectively. And when we want to know how people feel, capturing their emotional state, in addition to their words, holds incredible value.
This is not meant to imply that text conversations or communications are ineffective as a whole. They allow for large data capture and the speed at which we can communicate with multiple people in siloed conversations is fantastic. But, when we’re talking about how your attendees or exhibitors feel, how do we really understand the Why?
Providing Context Through Conversations
A single survey or email follow up is a one and done, simple thought exercise for attendees and exhibitors. By reaching out and developing a dialogue with individuals, you can contextualize your survey and text data with real experiences and conversations from your audience. How do we truly understand the values and benefits our audience is looking to gain from our events? Simply put, speech.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call those attendees that have not returned or the exhibitors who did not renew their booth space. Speak to them and understand the why beyond a simple statement. When marketing to new audiences, call those audiences to ensure you are communicating their values and goals effectively through your printed materials and written communication.
Of what value is an email, a newsletter or white-paper if it fails to resonate with your intended audience? It’s all about ensuring we understand their needs and goals.
Create a Plan of Action
Here is my ask of you: Set aside one hour a week to put aside your mouse and keyboard and pick up the phone to call your current exhibitors to understand the value they are seeing at your event. Call prospects, not with the intent of selling to them but with the intent to learn and to listen. Call potential attendees with the intent of learning. Take one hour a week and rotate between these groups to get the wholistic view of the value of your event.