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An Introduction to Design Thinking for Event Professionals

One of the challenges that seems to be consistently shared by nearly every event planner is finding a way to balance what is perceived to have worked in the past with what needs to change for the future. Changing audiences ultimately mean that event formats must evolve. Relying on the traditional approaches and expertise that […]

By Kim Myhre

One of the challenges that seems to be consistently shared by nearly every event planner is finding a way to balance what is perceived to have worked in the past with what needs to change for the future.

Changing audiences ultimately mean that event formats must evolve. Relying on the traditional approaches and expertise that the events industry has been using for years to design event experiences will not be sufficient to create the next generation of event experiences.  A new interdisciplinary approach that engages a much wider range of skills and disciplines is the future of experience design.

How can we change the way we think and create new innovative solutions for event and experience delivery? Design thinking is a unique way of problem solving but with a solutions-focused and human-centric approach. The attendee or audience is very much at the centre of the design thinking process. By developing a deeper understanding of your target audience, you gain insight and empathy to come up with more strategic and creative event solutions.

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Here we outline the key principles of Design Thinking and why it’s such an effective approach to developing attendee-focused solutions.

Action Phases of Design Thinking

These actions are not always sequential and instead, you should look at it as an overview of the phases that contribute to an innovative project and can happen in any order through the design thinking process.

Design Thinking Empathise

  1. Empathise – with your audience

A design-led approach looks at identifying with your target audience for through personas or empathy maps for example.

Design Thinking Define

  1. Define – your audiences’ needs, their problem/s, and your insights

Identify what your attendees’ needs and pain points are – this will help you to frame your solutions around your audience and the project/business objectives.

Design Thinking Ideate

  1. Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions

Come up with as many ideas as possible through brainstorming to go beyond the obvious solution routes.

Design Thinking Prototype

  1. Prototype – to start creating solutions

Build and visualise ideas through storyboarding and prototypes.

Design Thinking Test

  1. Test – solutions

Review and refine – by testing concepts with a test group you can see what resonates and how concepts can be developed further.

Design Thinking

Why Design Thinking is a unique way of thinking?

  1. Using both sides of the brain to solve problems

  2. Switching at will between rational and intuitive approach

  3. Iterating between analysis and creation

  4. Deal with ill-defined problems

  5. Target to improve audience’s experience

In practice, design thinking is a set of planning principals that enables you to move from the traditional approach to event planning towards a more structured, attendee-centric, insights-driven and strategic way of planning events.

In design thinking, the focus is on the people and experience.  It is a human-centered approach to event planning that helps us to get a deep, empathetic understanding of our attendee’s wants and needs, whilst encouraging creative consideration of a wide array of innovative event experiences and solutions.

We’re all designers and with design thinking we can revolutionise the event experience to engage deeper with our audiences.

If you are interested in finding out more of how to utilise design thinking or strategies for experience design and audience engagement, get in touch with us!

hello@mciexperience.com

+44 (0)20 353 00100

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