By and large, humans are creatures of habit. No matter how much our daily schedule varies, we tend to fulfill our basic needs (eating and sleeping) at roughly the same times each day. When a schedule conflict arises that affects our standard practices, we immediately start to make modifications. For example, if you tend to eat lunch at 11 a.m. every day, but you have a 1 p.m. lunch meeting, you are more likely to grab a mid-morning snack to curb your hunger while you wait those additional two hours (or you suffer through the blood sugar crash and become exceedingly cranky to the detriment of those around you).
In business, we are frequently invited to formal breakfasts, lunch seminars, sales dinners, etc., that fall outside of our normal routine. These events inevitably lead to us adjusting how much we eat during our other meals and also the timing of our meals.
While this seems like common sense and a pointless fact to mention, this forced change in behavior dramatically affects one’s mood and how one absorbs information presented to them.
In business, this can mean profit gain or loss for the company sponsoring the function, whether it be a simple one-on-one luncheon or a formal seminar.
Humans are dramatically influenced by whether or not their basic needs have been met. In sales, you need to make sure your client or potential client is well taken care of and satisfied before you ever broach the subject of what you are selling, or at the very least, he or she needs to be prepared that their needs will not be met until after your pitch.
I attended a dinner seminar that was scheduled for 6 p.m. I usually eat around 6 p.m., so it fit perfectly in my schedule. Upon arriving at the event, all attendees immediately placed their order with the staff. I sat down thinking about the delicious food that would be in front of me in a matter of minutes as the speaker began giving his pitch. And giving his pitch…. and giving his pitch…. I kept looking at the door of the conference room as my stomach began to grumble. How long can a salad take to make? I looked around the room and noticed the other attendees were shifting uncomfortably in their chairs not paying attention to the speaker. Two hours later, the speaker was done and our food was finally brought to us. By that point in the evening I was exhausted, starving and completely agitated that the event was over and now I had to sit their shoveling the food in my mouth before I could go. I was so frustrated by that point that there was nothing that could change my mood. No food could possibly be good enough to lift my spirits and make me forget about the two hours of misery. The company lost money on a meal they had to pay for me, lost a prospect, and I was left with a negative impression.
The moral of this story – communicate with your attendees. If I am invited to a dinner at 6 p.m., I assume I am going to have dinner shortly after 6 p.m. If I had known that the dinner was actually going to be at 8 p.m., I would have eaten a late afternoon snack and been comfortable sitting patiently through a two-hour presentation.
When it comes to event planning, you must assume that your guests know nothing and be over descriptive as to what to expect. For goodness sake, we have dress requirements on event invites. If a person doesn’t know how to dress intuitively, do you think they are going to know the timing of the meals?