Emotional Mapping isn’t a common practice when it comes to event or experience design. It is, however, one of the more powerful tools to creating something that generates rave reviews from your audience. If you decide to use it, you’ll leapfrog ahead of the pack and be on your way toward being the curator of an exceptional event or experience.

Emotional Mapping works particularly well when used with the Guest Experience Journey. Joining the two together before you begin planning out your event guarantees that you’re excelling beyond what you’ve done in the past and even the events you’ve personally attended before.

Step 1:
Define the purpose and desired outcome(s) of the event.

It’s important to get really clear about this before beginning. For instance, if you’re PunchDrunk (creators of Sleep No More) and working on your next moody, slightly-spooky project, then your desired outcome is very different than if you’re Maryellis Bunn (creator of the Ice Cream Museum) working on your next rainbow-hued, Instagram-inspired experience.

So, what is the purpose and desired outcome of your event?

Step 2:
Draw a timeline of the event. The timeline would include touch points or major actions that will happen throughout the day(s) of the event (examples: guest registration, start of program, keynote speaker, mid-morning break, etc.)

Then, through the timeline, map the emotional highs and lows of the event experience. Label the action/emotion of each peak and valley. For instance:

Flat line (w oppty to be a high emotion point) /
Feeling: is it dull frustration because of a slow line and lack of organization, or is it bemused and delighted by the lollipop a volunteer in costume just handed you as you wait?

Start of Program:
Slight high point /
Feeling: is it excitement as the guest receives a conference bag filled with goodies and clear directions on what to do next, or is it anxiety as the registration desk gets backed up as the show starts?

Think through each step as if you were the guest. Think back to the previous times you’ve planned this event and what the guest experience was. You might need to do this several times to outline the experience of different types of guests:

  • Early arrivers

  • VIPs

  • Speakers

  • Board Members

  • Latecomers

  • Etc.

Step 3:
Once you’ve created the Map, review it with your team. Together, ask these questions:

  • What kind of experience are you creating?

  • Do you need to add more peaks? Higher peaks?

  • Where is your experience flat lining?

How will you ensure that your attendees will connect with the emotional highs you are planning?

  • Should your tweak the flow of your event elements to create more unexpected emotional turns and excitement?

  • What time of day are your emotional lows? Are they after a meal? If so, should you move those lows and create highs after meal functions?

  • Does your event start and end with an emotional high or low?

As you answer the questions, you’ll discover areas you want to improve and creative ways to enhance the experience.

Step 4:
After your event, re-map the event experience based on guest feedback. Do not consult the original map while doing this. After you’ve finished mapping the event based on the actual experience of it, compare it to the original map.

  • Where did you succeed in delivering the intended highs/lows?

  • Where can you improve the experience next time?

  • What actions had the intended impact? Which didn’t?

If you would like support in creating an Emotional Map of your past or upcoming  experience, get in contact to set up a free 20 min initial consultation.

Download a copy of this article

Get support creating an Emotional Map for your event