I’ve been studying the science behind events, covering the cues and catalysts to influential events. So now it’s time to build momentum, to get more people (and partners) to come to your event, and come again.
How to generate momentum – 101
It’s likely you are either starting up with your event or trying to change something. Either way, we know that to succeed, we will need to overcome some resistance.
Newtons 1st Law
Inertia ‘the invisible force that resists any forward motion (or change) in direction’.
We find resistance in many guises, whether it is getting an idea approved, a new initiative or a whole new event off the ground. We get push back from others, and it can also happen within us, in the way we think, and how we hold on to our beliefs.
Nature and science contain many other forces, which also need to be overcome if we are to succeed. So recognising these are in play, and how you can work around them is essential, and if you can harness them, it is powerful.
‘Homeostasis’ is where an organism constantly regulates itself to a specific target. Our body weight is an example’s of this. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight by exercising, you may have noticed how your body does things like adjusts your appetite to maintain it’s current weight. This is your body trying to maintain the status quo, which is natural, but makes things difficult when you want to change them. It’s only when we reach a tipping point, by changing our patterns,the homeostasis is finally broken and momentum toward your goal is generated.
We see this resistance in ourselves – and others.
‘It’s just the way it is’ – ‘No need to reinvent the wheel’ – ‘That’s the way we do things’
The same old paths
‘Path dependence’ is where we make decisions based on previous ones, and is a form of inertia within you that you must check on each day. We like to stay on the same path, doing the things that are familiar and safe. Like last year’s event plan, and the appeal of just rolling that out again!
What other’s think
And in a broader public sense, I think ‘Social norms’ also weigh heavily on our work as event promoters. This inertia shows up when people resist doing something that they wouldn’t like their peers to see them doing. So we must acknowledge this inertia, and that our audiences will only be attracted when ‘people like us’ attend. Otherwise, you will get a lot of resistance to participation in your event.
So how do we overcome these forces?
Like many things in nature, if there is a negative force, there is often an equally positive one. So the good news with each of these forces is that if you can harness it in the right way, it can actually have a powerful positive effect.
How to create positive momentum – activating energy
In science ‘Activation Energy’ is the minimum amount of energy needed to activate a reaction between two or more reactants. And a ‘Catalyst’ decreases the activation energy to start a reaction.
Applying this to your events, this is the energy or resources you need to activate a reaction within your audience. And the catalyst’s are the actions you take, the cues you provide to help generate the reaction.
An example would be the amount of promotion you do to get people to sign up. The ‘cost of acquisition’ the investment you make for each sign-up. The catalysts will be the communications, the content, the interactions and experiences that you provide your audience, that will help generate the reaction you want.
So it is worth thinking about his in terms of your events. As we are all trying to generate a reaction in our audiences. To create anticipation, participate and reflection in our fans, participants and attendees.
Can you think about the amount of energy it will take to start or to change something? And any catalysts that will decrease this effort?
At a national scale, Australian’s have been inspired by Carrie Bickmore’s efforts to beat Brain Cancer. It all started at the TV Week Logie Awards, which she dedicated to her late husband Greg who passed away five years earlier following a 10-year battle with brain cancer. Carrie went on to form Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer Foundation and has ignited a huge amount of positive activation energy, creating many catalysts to increase funds and awareness of the cause.
The initial catalyst was the call to action at the Logies Awards, with the annual and one-off events such as last weekend’s Point to Pinnacle providing additional triggers, continuing to create the energy needed to raise the funds and increase momentum towards the goal. We see this chain of events in many successful cause-related movements, where the optimal investment of energy and funds are needed to maximise and amplify the outcomes.
A galvanising event
A great catalyst that you can use to change something, or build momentum that is particularly relevant to events, is the ‘forcing function’. This being a function (a scheduled event) that forces someone to take action. As we know that when they are set up correctly, our events can be a great catalyst for a call to action.
I’ve been working alongside the 2020 T20 World Cup organisers, who have devised a great call to action, to break the world record for attendance at a women’s sporting event. This is a great aspirational goal to promote, and for audiences to identify with, but to back it up, several strategic catalysts are being used to make this more likely to occur.
Being scheduled on International Women’s Day, in the Melbourne market, at the 100,000 capacity MCG stadium, are all perfect examples of using the right message, at the right time, and the right place, to achieve a goal. And with last weeks’ catalyst’ announcement that Katy Perry will also perform, it is all adding energy around the event, and the momentum is building.
It is highly likely the end result at ‘The Big Dance’ will see over 91,186 fans at the MCG on March 8, 2020.
These are just a couple of examples of how a scheduled event, when combined with a galvanising goal, can ignite a potent reaction. And while we aren’t always working on major events or mega movements, a bit of imagination and aspiration can go along way to generating positive momentum for your event. And, we can also use this in our planning and delivery, as a catalyst to the momentum behind the scenes.
The ultimate Forcing Function – an event deadline!
If there is one thing we observe on a regular basis in events, is the power of the deadline, both as an event as a whole, for our participants, for our suppliers, and ourselves. We see it leading up with ‘early bird’ triggers, and we see it in everyone when it comes to the event date. These deadlines force us into action. So using these forcing functions, more often, with regular sprint deadlines is an active catalyst to Get Sh*t Done!
So I hope this examination of the science behind events, and some of the catalysts you can use will help you have more influence with your events.
It’s now your time to build momentum, to get more people (and partners) to come to your event, and come again.
If you need some help with that – just let me know…