Your Step-by-Step Guide to Event Design

Category

Branding

Read Time

12 min

Published

23 April, 2024

Event design is about more than just making something look nice.

It’s about creating a space that is engaging and inspiring so that people want to be there. It goes beyond the visuals as this will only take you so far, and instead, focuses on the entire attendee experience.

Regardless of what type of event you’re running, whether it’s a lunch and learn, a networking event, or a conference, you want to make sure your attendees find it worthwhile.

This makes them more likely to attend your events in the future and also means they’re more likely to promote your brand to others.

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Organisers can sometimes overlook the importance of event design by focussing too much on their own brand. Whilst getting your name out there is key, your audience needs to be your focus.

There’s a lot of considerations when it comes to effective event design and a lot of easy wins when it comes to planning your event space.

In this blog we’re taking you through the process of creating a memorable event that is designed to boost engagement and attendee satisfaction.

What Is Event Design?

Event design is about making a place feel inspiring so that attendees get some form of value from it, whether that’s connecting with new businesses, learning about a new product, or simply having fun.

Whilst the decor is important (and something we’ll come onto further in this post), the right event design can change the whole atmosphere of a room.

It has the power to build a warm, inviting ambience, or to create something more exciting and vibrant.

Of course it largely depends on what type of event you’re running as this dictates what type of atmosphere you want to create.

Some examples of events include:

  • Networking events: These aim to bring professionals together so that they can interact and build connections.
  • Conferences: This type of event is often focused on a specific topic or industry, featuring keynote speakers, discussions, and workshops.
  • Trade shows / exhibitions: These events allow businesses to demonstrate their products or services to potential clients, partners, and industry professionals.
  • Fundraisers: The aim of these events is to raise funds for a charitable cause, often featuring auctions, performances, entertainment, and guest speakers.
  • Workshops and seminars: These educational events are led by industry experts, providing attendees with learning experiences and practical skills.
  • Product launches: These events are focussed on introducing a new product or service to the market, often featuring product demos and media coverage.
  • Team building retreats: As an off-site gathering, the aim of these events is to build collaboration and camaraderie among team members.
  • Festivals and fairs: These community-led events celebrate culture, art, food, music, or other themes and often feature performances and interactive experiences.
  • Corporate retreats: These events are designed for company employees or executives to relax, recharge, and engage in team-building activities.

Investing time in planning your event design produces tangible results. When attendees enjoy a better experience, you’re more likely to enjoy returns on your investment, given the significant resources allocated to event setup.

The returns generated vary based on the event’s purpose. For example, a networking event aims for improved brand partnerships or increased sales opportunities as its desired ROI.

On the other hand, a staff party aims to improve staff retention and morale as its desired outcome.

animated people looking at a board pointing

How to Perfect Your Event Design

Mastering the art of effective event design can boost overall attendee satisfaction levels, making it a priority when you’re running any type of event.

By taking the time to craft a cohesive concept and aesthetic, you can capture your guests’ attention, improve the ambiance of any given space, and create a memorable experience for those who’ve given up their time to attend.

The different elements influencing an event, such as visuals, audio, and the overall experience must come together seamlessly.

Below we’re exploring some ways to perfect your event design, starting with priority number one – its purpose.

Identify the purpose of the event

As we’ve listed out above, there’s lots of different reasons to run an event.

Perhaps you’ve enjoyed a really good year of sales and you want to reward your team?

Corporate retreat.

Or maybe you’ve designed a new product to bring to market and you want to make a splash?

Product launch event.

There’s a whole bunch of reasons for bringing everyone together in one room, but the first thing is to identify your event’s purpose.

Once you have this nailed down, you can start on your list of attendees. Obviously this is heavily influenced by the purpose of running the event in the first place as you need to make sure you have the right people in attendance.

When you’ve identified the event purpose and who you’re going to invite, the rest of your event design should become clearer. You can now tailor the other elements around both of these things, ensuring the event flow and aesthetics are catered to the needs of your audience.

Build the event flow

Event flow is like the roadmap that keeps everything on track during an event.

It’s all about planning what happens when, so attendees stay interested and things run smoothly.

After defining the purpose of your event and understanding your audience’s interests, you need to plan how the event will run. You can’t just wait for people to turn up and hope for the best as they will soon get bored.

For example, in a conference aimed at industry professionals, the event flow might start off with an opening keynote address to set the tone, followed by presentations, panel discussions, and networking sessions designed to build momentum and interest.

Similarly at a team building event, it might start with an icebreaker activity to help everyone get to know each other better. Then, there could be team-building exercises like problem-solving challenges, followed by a coffee break and casual conversation. After that, the event might continue with group projects or outdoor games, before wrapping up with a reflection session to discuss what was learned.

The last thing you want is for attendees to be standing around wondering what to do next. You want to keep them engaged in your event so that there’s always something interesting for them to see or do.

Including a mix of elements such as presentations, speeches, and breakout sessions helped keep the event alive and reduced the likelihood of attendees switching off.

purple illustration of map and red pin icon

Choose the right venue

The right venue is a key part of effective event design as you want to make it easy for people to attend. Aside from the logistics, you also want a venue that is going to provide a positive attendee experience.

Whether you’re hosting a hybrid or in-person event, the venue needs to complement the purpose of running this in the first place.

Choosing the wrong venue can be detrimental to the success of your event as it significantly impacts how people feel and recall it.

Imagine choosing somewhere dark, dingy, or in an undesirable location.

This is not setting the event up for success and probably means attendees won’t want to attend your events in the future.

However, by doing your research and visiting different venues you can choose one that aligns with your event goals. This is a big influencing factor when it comes to choosing the right venue as you want something that suits the type of event, capacity requirements, budget, theme, and technology needs.

Going back to our earlier point about logistics, you also want somewhere close to nearby public transportation, making it easy for people to commute.

Think about seating

Seating is a key part of your event design as you can’t expect people to stand all day!

Offering somewhere comfortable for them to have a coffee or a snack is needed between seminars and networking sessions.

This part of your event design does largely depend on the type of event and your agenda as a team building event for example, might not require as much seating as a conference where people are watching presentations.

You also need to consider the size of your event and how much seating you’ll need as this will affect your event design budget.

Another consideration is the type of seating as having a range of tables and chairs plus more relaxed areas such as sofas, can be a great way of engaging your audience in a more relaxed setting.

The best solution is to draw up a floor plan pinpointing key sections of the event such as any catering areas and networking zones.
Apple logo and devices

Select the right tech

Whether you’re organising a conference, seminar, or corporate retreat, using the latest tech tools can improve the overall experience for attendees.

First you need to consider the purpose and goals of your event.

Are you aiming for educational presentations or immersive experiences?

Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can choose the right tech.

For instance, if audience engagement is a priority, interactive polling apps or live Q&A platforms can encourage participation. Similarly, incorporating virtual reality (VR) can offer attendees an immersive way to interact with content or products.

You also don’t overlook the importance of logistics.

Consider using an event management software to help with tasks such as registration, ticketing, and attendee tracking, simplifying the planning process and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Choose the right furniture

Similar to the point above, you need to think about furniture and how this fits into your event design.

You don’t want an empty room, as you need to consider the way people will interact with the space and move through your event.

For example, if you’re running networking groups, you’ll want to arrange seating in a way that encourages conversation and interaction. Think about using comfortable chairs grouped in small clusters to facilitate discussions, or set up cocktail tables where attendees can mingle.

Creating designated areas for different activities can also help guide the flow of people throughout the space and ensure that everyone has a chance to engage with each other.

Likewise, if you’re running interactive workshops, the furniture should support learning and engagement. Consider setting up tables or workstations where participants can comfortably work together on projects or participate in group activities.

Again, this entirely depends on the type of event you’re running and why. By understanding the purpose of your event first, you can choose furniture that compliments it.

Consider entertainment

This won’t be appropriate for every type of event (such as a professional conference) but it’s a great idea for a staff party!

You want your guests to be engaged and enjoying the event, which can be helped by having some form of entertainment.

Consider your budget when it comes to this one as it can hugely vary.

Also keep your audience in mind as the type of entertainment might differ depending on who is invited.

If you’re hosting a staff party for a fun day, are children and families invited too?

If so, you might want to consider entertainment aimed at children such as face painters, magicians, or balloon artists.

purple illustration of open book with light bulb

Event Design Tips

Now that we’ve covered the key components of effective event design, we’re bringing you some top tips.

These extend to space, lighting, and colour, ensuring the event you create is successful, elevating the perception of your brand in the minds of your attendees.

Space

You need to have a thorough understanding of how much space you have to play with when it comes to event design.

This involves looking at the layout, features, and dimensions of the venue, as well as the flow of guests throughout different areas such as entrances, stage areas, and activity spaces.

Striking a balance between furnished and empty space is also key to avoid overcrowding or making the room look empty.

Effective space planning guides attendees through the event while considering practical aspects like avoiding bottlenecks and ensuring comfortable seating is positioned away from high traffic areas.

Lighting

The right lighting can influence the atmosphere of an event, making it feel a certain way for attendees.

Lighting can also be used strategically to highlight focal points, create ambiance, and even influence the perceived size of a room.

That’s why it makes sense to experiment with different lighting techniques such as uplighting, spotlights, and LED fixtures to change the overall mood and aesthetics of the space.

For daytime events, consider the amount of windows in your chosen venue as natural lighting may cause unexpected shadows or glare.

Colour

Selecting the right colours is another key part of event design, as colours can create different emotions and set the tone for the occasion.

Choosing a cohesive colour scheme that aligns with your desired atmosphere is equally as important.

For example, do you want something calming and educational?

Perhaps tones of blue would be appropriate.

Or do you want to create something vibrant and celebratory?

Oranges, reds, and pinks can be a good choice if this is the case.

You should also make sure to include your colour choices into different elements of the event, such as decorations, lighting, and printed materials to create a unified and visually appealing setting.

That said, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid overwhelming the space with excessive colour as this can be off-putting.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Event Design

Mastering the art of event design requires careful planning, creativity, and attention to detail.

By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this blog post, you can confidently navigate space planning, lighting design, and colour selection, creating a memorable event for all of your attendees.

Remember to always keep the goals and audience in mind, as well as the practical considerations of the venue and your budget.

By taking time with your event design, you can transform any space into an engaging environment that leaves a lasting impression on those who attend.

At Canny, we have experience running and hosting our own marketing events so we know what it takes to make them a success. Get in touch with our team for an informal chat about your marketing event needs!

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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