‘Emotional connection’ with your participants: Over-rated or under-utilised?

We’ve all seen the feedback forms after running a successful event:

  • “That was a great event; well-organised and interesting”

  • “Made so many new connections!”

  • “Learnt a lot from the speakers and experts – glad I joined”

On the surface, these are wonderful comments to receive from participants, but after organising and running the 76th International Forum on ____________ to the same glowing feedback, you might also find yourself thinking “so what?”


You’re asking the right question. Based on why most organisations host events, you want to know:

  • What does it mean for the way participants now show up as members of your community?

  • What decisions are they going to make differently that positively impacts their involvement?

  • What will change in their interaction with other participants as a result of joining your event?


To truly influence business outcomes like the above, we believe an event must elicit an emotional response. That’s why, together with our US-based partners The Community Factory, we set out last year to scientifically prove our theory on emotions.

We undertook a year-long study called Return On Emotion℠, designed to identify exactly which emotions need to be evoked in order to create an environment for business readiness.

Turns out, there are FIVE.

  • Hopeful

  • Adventurous

  • Active

  • Accepted

  • Motivated

That’s to say, carefully designing your events around evoking these five emotions will drive revenue, engagement and build meaningful connections. The good news: the formula isn’t just for events. If you are creating any type of marketing program you can design, and then measure, it against this ROE formula to ensure you're hitting the mark.


So how exactly do you measure your ROE? It’s a simple 5-question series to add into your post-event survey.


Using a 10-point scale, ask your participants how the experience made them feel on a set of the five core emotions and average the score.


· From hopeless (0) to hopeful (10)

· From hesitant (0) to adventurous (10)

· From rejected (0) to accepted (10)

· From passive (0) to active (10)

· From uninspired (0) to motivated (10)


Our research found that scores of 8.6 or greater meant that you’re more likely to have successfully influenced business decisions and engagement of your participants. Aggregately, this score will tell you if you created an environment for success. Individually (if your surveys are not anonymous), you’ll know how to approach your participants in the future by what emotions they felt were lacking in the program.


These principles are a great way to avoid guessing how to design your next event, and almost guaranteed to be a more rewarding experience for both you and your participants.