Make sense(s): The Power Of Soundscaping

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The most successful events are seamless, transporting you to the theme’s destination and beyond. We create an experience and bring a theme to life when we engage all our senses. The American Heritage Dictionary says “soundscaping” (noun) is “an acoustic environment, a virtual/emotional environment created using sound.” A soundscape composition is defined as “an electro-acoustic musical composition creating a sound portrait of a sound environment.”

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We can tend to overlook the finer nuances of sound when planning events, yet hearing unique sounds inspires our minds to conjure images of faraway places or specific things in a few, short seconds. Mere moments into Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” the wild violins (or piano cords) have us swatting at imaginary insects.

Sound can also inspire us to recall happy times or motivate us to create a future. This is why a smart planner uses some form of soundscaping in every event.

One of our corporate clients wanted guests to be transported to a luxurious, elegant garden for a product-themed dinner. A hotel ballroom became a European-style garden with elaborate backdrops, trees, shrubs, flowers, water features and all the sounds that go with them.

Guests entered a land that modern time had forgotten. Sounds of nature helped immerse guests in the secret garden. I can’t tell you how many people came up to me afterward and told me they had forgotten they were in a ballroom. Through visuals, lighting and sound, we fooled their brains into forgetting where they were. That was exactly the goal.

Soundscaping doesn’t have to be an elaborate combination of natural and artificial acoustics to capture attendees’ imaginations. It can be as simple as a music selection. A 1950s’ diner-themed celebration would not be complete without classic rock-and-roll. No matter how much attention you pay to the visual details, the trip back in time would burst like a bubble if the music was heavy metal or alternative rock.

To me, seeing the visuals is like seeing a black-and-white movie. Once you add soundscaping, your vision is in Technicolor. So the next time you plan the perfect setting for an event, think beyond what guests will see, think also about what they’ll hear.

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Soundscaping also sets the tone for general sessions, awards events and content-heavy gatherings. I consider the meeting’s purpose and tailor my walk-in and walk-out music to the situation. I choose music that reflects the speakers’ personalities and the meeting’s tone.

Awards events require that a “bed” of music be played while photos are taken to keep energy up in the room without distracting from the photography. For meetings with a theme I often create a playlist with the key words in the lyrics. That music can be played at off-site events, on group transfers, burned onto a CD that is sent pre- or post-show, or given as a room gift.

Sound is a powerful, imagination tool. Craft a well-thought-out soundscape and each time a particular song is played, the memory of the meeting will live on.

Holiday Planning Is Cool When The Weathers Hot

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Savvy planners know it’s best to strike when the weather is hot. Most people are probably focused on the business at hand, but a seasoned planner knows that this is when to get your date locked into the holiday calendar, so so you can snare the most coveted venues, entertainment and vendors before the post-Labor Day rush.

Keep in mind that a holiday party is not unlike any other large event you must organize. The only major difference is that once the season hits, competition and demand are at their peak, and you’ll have little, if any, bargaining power.

Those living in Florida, Arizona, Southern California, Hawaii, etc., should also keep this in mind: The winter months are prime time in your region and rates go up between October through April. Plan early and take advantage of booking rate deals now.

The Fourth of July holiday may just be past us, but now is the best time to book your fa-la-la festivities. Check the calendar, pick a date, and start calling the vendors who’ll create an event of which you’ll be proud.

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For a strategist, it’s all about the plan. I not only book my holiday party well in advance, I get all my holiday planning done each summer. That means writing copy for holiday cards, updating mailing lists, purchasing gifts and creating a timeline to have everything proofed, approved and sent out.

I tackle the gift project all year long. I have a file folder that I put magazine clippings in as well as an online file folder where I paste links of things I’ve seen that I want to research further. Food baskets with clever contents, technology gadgets and great travel accessories go into the file. I check online reviews, compare pricing, get info on personalizing, and order samples of items that make the cut. The team weighs in on the samples and the order is placed. This system lets us take a new direction if someone has a late-breaking brainstorm. It avoids rush shipping and almost guarantees that items are in stock. Most of all, it keeps the process enjoyable since we’re not up against a deadline.

I write the copy for our holiday cards and choose a custom design, both of which take some attention. Often, I walk away from the project and come back to it, so starting early lets me do that without feeling pressure or having to rush. As an extra bonus, I can take advantage of summer promotions and sales.

September arrives, and everything I need has arrived. I set aside two Fridays for the team to sign cards, assemble the gifts and get the packages ready to ship or hand deliver. By the time we’re done the air is crisp, the stores are starting to show signs of the holidays, and we’re able to enjoy the season. Bottom line: Planning for the holidays when it’s hot is the cool thing to do!

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Keep watching for B&B’s list of the best gifts to give this holiday season. Have an idea you’d like to recommend or a corporate gift you consider an all-time great? Email me at: *protected email*