Tap Into the Senses to Transform Your Event

meetings, senses
A surprise appearance by two colorful dancers encouraged attendees to add a little twist to their next event.

Smiling waitresses greeted each guest, handing them a red Bellini as a musical duo played softly in the background. A breakfast buffet revealed watermelon smoothies, red velvet muffins, cranberry loaf and cereal with berries.

Red, after all, is the color of energy; it stimulates the senses, increases enthusiasm and encourages action.

It was starting time for Prevue’s Strategic Meetings Summit, held in August at the Hotel Palomar in Chicago. At the helm was Dianne Devitt of the DND Group, who had painstakingly orchestrated an experience for the senses—color, scent, sound, taste—leaving attendees with a new understanding of how small, deliberate touches can influence not only mood, but learning.

In addition to being the meeting design adviser for the event, Devitt (who refers to herself as an “experience creator”) shared tips from her ColorUP! Program, an interactive workshop divided into four segments designed to teach intermediate to senior-level planners how to apply the techniques of creative direction to strategically designed content.

After her presentation, attendees had the chance to storyboard an imaginary meeting designed around a single color. My table’s assignment: orange. We created an entire event for foster children with the theme: “OrangeYouAmazing?!” Tang, cheese puffs, big balloons, stuffed Nemo’s—the creativity just flowed.

Devitt views the “meeting stylist” as a new position and career path, comparing it to photo stylists in the fashion world, or artistic directors in theater. “This opens doors for the industry at large to grow, just like other communication disciplines—such as advertising or public relations—have. Why can’t meetings have directors to help with the experience design?” The goal is to brand the meeting to the company and the message, rather than it being a standalone event that’s not integrated into the communications strategy.

At the end of her session, as Devitt encouraged attendees to add a twist to their next event, into the room flew two colorfully dressed dancers, drawing people out of their seats to do the twist. The perfect end to a morning full of surprises.

Lunch included a miniature golf game set out on the floor for all to try. Table centerpieces were simple succulents and the meal was a feast of salads, green gazpacho and stuffed green peppers, finished off with cucumber smoothies. Attendees returned to the scent of peppermint in the room. The table linens had turned lime.

Green is associated with revitalization and rebirth. It has been shown to improve creativity. It was time for the afternoon sessions to begin.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.