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Using Sensory Design to Create Impactful Meetings

August 10, 2017

Hoping to create a truly impactful event? Consider incorporating a little thing called sensory design. Simply put sensory design is the process of designing with the intent of touching all five senses. According to sensory design consultant, Alastair Somerville of Sensory UX, “Our perceptions of the world are built on multiple senses.” For years the world believed that human thinking tended to be logical rather than instinctive. However, neuroscientists now know that our thinking is emotion based and intuitive. While emotions fuel our thoughts, our senses fuel emotions.  When tapped collectively they can significantly impact our experiences. They have the power to help us focus or drift, feel invigorated or tired, productive or nonproductive.

To illustrate how sensory design touches our emotions, Somerville cites the design of a lipstick case for a high-end makeup brand. The case not only had to look and feel expensive, but the sound the top made when the lipstick clicked back into place after use had to sound expensive. By appealing to senses, you can create a deeper emotional response and a more tailored experience.

How can you use the power of sensory design to impact meetings?

Meetings that incorporate all five senses: taste, hearing, touch, sight and smell have the ability to touch our emotions, leading to an impactful experience. Each sense provides different information that is combined and interpreted by our brain. Consider all the elements that go into the planning process and how these can appeal to the senses to encourage greater engagement:

Taste – As the saying goes, “food is the way to the heart” and can often prove to make or break an attendee’s experience. Draw on the eclectic tastes of the destination to give people flavor and feel of the area.

Hearing – Sound is one of the easiest ways to stimulate the senses. Whether you’re going for a soothing, relaxed ambiance or looking to get people up and dancing, music proves to be an effective way to engage attendees.

Touch – The sense of touch can easily be tapped through various décor elements. Think of all the feelings seemingly simple items can bring forth.  From soft velvet linens to cool leather seating, rustic wood tables to chic chrome bars, the sense of touch easily comes alive with event décor.

Sight – Use lighting as a subtle, but natural way to create the general mood in your space! Bright lights stimulate the senses, and pave the way for a high-energy, upbeat vibe, while cool colored visuals evoke a relaxed, peaceful environment.

The most powerful scent in sensory design

Smell – One of the most influential senses is that of smell! Often used to entice consumers, scents can help you play on the unique scenes around your event to create a memorable experience. Think about the effect a familiar scent has on triggering nostalgia and forcing a flood of memories.  “Scents have a powerful effect on the brain and can give us an instant boost in productivity and focus,” says Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, Cary Caster. Specific scents can increase brainpower, boost alertness and aid memory. Recent studies show that sniffing lemon improved people’s moods and raised levels of norepinephrine, the brain chemical linked to executive decision-making and motivation.

Need to get your group focused? Consider adding fresh cut lemons to centerpieces.  Want to add some pep to your next brainstorming session, add fresh mint leaves to water or simply place a bowl filled with the refreshing herb on tables. Hoping to increase concentration and memory recall, turn to rosemary. This scent has been found to improve speed and accuracy during mentally demanding work.

A sure way to touch all five senses is by holding your meeting in a naturally beautiful destination. Newport Beach, CA offers just that location. A year-round destination that is both sophisticated yet comfortable, relaxed but vibrant, perfect for group meetings and events.

When you’re ready to begin planning your next program, contact the staff at Visit Newport Beach, the destination marketing organization for Newport Beach, CA. Visit Newport Beach opens the doors to this coastal paradise with destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources that ease the planning process.

Written by Visit Newport Beach Meetings

As a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Visit Newport Beach provides destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources tailored specifically to the needs of meeting planners and their clients.

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