Maria Keenan

The Importance of Well-Designed Events

 But different doesn't necessarily mean better. Being different is more memorable, but you need to be positively remembered for standing out from the crowd. - H. von Restorff

If we hear a piece of information, three days later we'll remember 10% of it. If there's a picture associated with it, we'll remember 65%.

I'm not individual in having an appreciation for nice-looking things. Nor am I special for wanting to know about the different ways that the things we see affect us, so I thought this conversation would be of interest.

I spoke with Dan Porter, co-founder of Scriberia, after I saw their animation in commemoration of the 1916 Rising.

You might be familiar with this piece of history, or you might not, but this fascinating style of relaying information has many more uses. Meaning, chances are, something of Scriberia's will also resonate with you.

After seeing the fruits of his labour in action, I chose to have a call with Dan to see how his business has worked with live events specifically, and why people keep coming back to his team.

The Growing Demand for Good Design

 

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I used to think that the corporate front-runners of the world would consider design to be superfluous; that design was a superficial after-thought that leant little to the event's practical worth or bottom line.

Then I saw the above image on the Scriberia site, saw how many big-ticket names were on their dossier, and had to find out more:

"We started getting a lot of work with conferences and workshops making visual records of those meetings and discussions. We casually threw together a company, put a website together very quickly and started getting lots of interest from big, international companies. Now we're at a stage where we have a studio in London with 20 people and 10 freelancers."

What's more than simply the demand for Scriberia's services is the ongoing appreciation for the quality of their work:

"Clients keep our work on their walls for years. It captures those conversations in a way that no other medium has."

As well as digital design, Scriberia provides live, large-scale illustrations and murals at events depicting the proceedings. Some key examples of what they're capable of can been seen in how they've worked with The Guardian and CNBC.

"From that work, we've developed a lot of relationships with companies big and small all across the world."

The Effect of Design on Us

From my perspective, one of the aspects of the events industry that keeps it interesting is how an event can take on so many different guises. My fourth-cousin's Quinceañera and Google I/O have a lot of the same requirements, even though there's a 0.0001% chance that someone will go to both.

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Design is one of those requirements. And, just as you can technically use a spider-ridden cave for an event, you can use any old kind of design, but it won't be as effective:

"If you're asking people to attend an event, you're selling the exchange of ideas and the value of great conversations. There's no better way to capture the spirit of that than to do it visually. At an event where there are 600 people there, or in a small meeting room with 8 people there, you can tap into the types of things that end up in our long-term memory as opposed to things that you'll forget the next day."

Being memorable is an admirable aim for anyone, and one that Dan has made a purpose of this work. Given that larger events act as the meeting place of creativity and business, the connections made between the goings-on and those looking to buy or sell become all the more tangibly valuable.

"Use metaphor, use humour, use the aspects of really good storytelling. That's how you stick in people's memories for a long period of time."

What Else Does Design Solve For?

While images can help us remember, they don't make what's memorable worthwhile in and of themselves.

I asked Dan how the designs his organisation provides intersect with the information that people go to conferences and meetings for:

"Our work helps people to make their own connections and links between ideas. If you sit through a day of people going through their PowerPoint slides in a linear way, you might not necessarily make those connections. With this, you can think of something that someone said at 10 in the morning and see how it relates to something that someone said at half past 4."

So, while the onus is still on the speaker to give substance in their presentations, companies like Scriberia can help attendees to uncover contexts that they otherwise wouldn't have.

In this way, design might not act as the change in the industry, the community, or the world, but as a springboard for the ideas that cause those changes.

How to Stay Creative and Improve Your Event Design

"Sometimes the visuals are a little bit generic. It's the same visual from event to event."

Especially for those responsible for running the same event annually, it can be challenging to churn out inventive concepts, layouts and line-ups. If you add that to making the whole spectacle visually impressive, the creative strain is palpable.

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As a person whose livelihood is dependent on being on the ball when it comes to inspired artistic expression, I wondered how Dan and his team kept motivated and fresh:

"It's a question I ask new candidates in interviews: Are you good at getting interested in other people's lives? How nosy are you? Whether it's a conference about tax or tractors, you've really got to get interested in that on the day."

While the hustle and bustle of organiser life is one that those who live it wouldn't exactly want to add another layer to, this openness to new ideas has the potential to aid anything from seating layout to speaker topics.

Far from being more than just a pretty face, the Scribing services provided by Dan and team to international events provide context and inspiration to all involved.

If you're interested in learning some more about their design ethos and services, you can follow them on Twitter, or look into their new book How to Draw Anything. You can also see additional examples of their work on their website.sign-up-team-tito