Why Less is More at Events

Posted by on Jun 8, 2013 in Blog | 2 comments

Have you ever been to an event where there was too much … decorations around the room, china/stemware/flatware on the table or speakers on the agenda, for example?  Did you feel overwhelmed, claustrophobic or disappointed, perhaps wishing the event organizers/hosts had exercised an important design principle – “less is more”?

Simple tablescape for an outdoor luncheon

Simple tablescape for an outdoor luncheon

Less is more, and its cousin KISS – Keep is simple, stupid, is a minimalist design approach.   If you remove one element, the design will still function.  From an event perspective, if you remove one item – one less decoration, one less item from the table or one less speaker on the program, the event will still be successful.  Local event planner, Simone Poetscher, reminded me of this best practice in her blog, Mona’s Event Dos and Don’ts (and inspired this post).  When designing conferences:

I suggest taking a cue from the fashion world, when building an agenda: Design the agenda, and when it is done, take out one piece – or one session in our case. Less is more!

Why?  Less provides clarity; people will instantly see what is important while more creates distraction, waste and ultimately, a poor experience.

Here’s what I’m seeing at events:

  • Too many decorations at celebrations.  It’s like an explosion of every inspiring decor idea ever pinned on Pinterest!
  • Too cluttered dinner tables.  Pre-setting the first course, dessert, bread baskets and coffee cup to save time may sound like a great idea but the actual presentation is disaster.
  • Too many options on the food buffet.  It looks like a potluck feast instead of a delicious display of food.
  • Too many people and subsequently, tables in the ballroom.  It’s unacceptable to expect guests to squeeze through a crowded maze of tables to find their seat.
  • Too many speakers on the program..  This is a huge problem, one that I hear all too often. Despite good intentions to provide maximum educational value, organizers/hosts ignore other important objectives like ample time for networking.

What can you do to improve your event?

  • Select 3!  If you are inspired by Pinterest, photo shoots and magazine spreads, select the three best ideas to incorporate into your event.  Select complementary ideas that add visual interest and contribute to the overall event experience.
  • Do the math! Develop an initial event design that includes projected attendance and space requirements before securing a venue.  Too often, I hear stories of people who contract with a venue based on a projected guest list and fail to factor in space for stages, dance floors, food stations and production equipment because they hadn’t contemplated the design.
  • Plan as a Guest!  This may sound like a no-brainer but it’s so important to understand the event from an attendee’s perspective.  We make different choices when we walk someone’s (paying) shoes!
  • KISS!  Keep it simple!
  • Remove one thing!  It was French writer and pilot, Antoine de Saint Exupéry who said “It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Have I inspired you to remove one thing from your event?  If so, what will it be? Or do you have an example of less is more at your events? Please leave a comment to share.