Conferences provide opportunities for like minded communities to connect, share knowledge, build relationships and exchange resources. These events are notorious for packed schedules with breakout sessions, plenaries and social gatherings, lasting multiple days in length. Have you ever felt burnt-out after attending such a meetup?
More than ever, national conferences are seeing an influx of registrants from a cohort of young professionals – millennials! Millennials seek out events that offer variety and customization, allowing them to exercise agency in navigating experiences on their own terms. They crave constant stimulation as much as they desire chill-out time, and are uncompromising in their expectations and ideals. As event managers, it is important that we respond to a changing audience demographic and adapt our plans accordingly.
Mindful events employ human-centric design elements to promote personal wellbeing, deliver high-quality programming and maximize guest satisfaction. Here, the goal is to create welcoming environments that encourage professional development without compromising personal comfort and fulfillment.
Here are some ideas to ensure your conference adopts an intentional program outline that leaves attendees feeling understood, appreciated and engaged:
An audience of tech-savvy professionals will appreciate an organizer who finds ways to integrate new technology into conventional event formats. Smart conference badges and other wearables (like the ones from Proxfinity) are a great way to do just that. These technologies match individuals based on common interests to spark conversations and build networks. This matchmaking software can help participants locate and engage with agreeable individuals in no time! Not to mention, the use of these tools can even reduce social anxiety by eliminating awkward interactions between strangers.
Silicon Valley start-ups have been constructing meditation pods and yoga studios in their workplaces for years. Once seen as a fleeting trend for California executives, relaxation spaces are now a mainstay in corporate offices around the globe, with a growing presence at events as well. Zen rooms are quiet spaces, usually detached from the main event floor, that offer guests an escape to rest and recharge during a busy day of activities. Common to these rooms is ambient sound and lighting, comfortable furniture and refreshment stations. Offer this major value-add at your next event and have audiences raving about it for weeks!
High Vibe Foods
We have all been to a continental breakfast consisting solely of muffins and pastries, not to mention weak coffee. Foods high in carbs, sugar and fats can leave us feeling lethargic and disengaged. Meals and snack breaks are the perfect opportunity to re energize your guests by providing adequate nourishment. Offering fresh foods rich in protein and vitamins will revive the weary and prepare participants to take an active role in meetings.
While lengthy plenaries can provide an in-depth exploration of a topic, audience fatigue is not uncommon. When planning a conference schedule, try adding a greater amount of short breakout sessions with interactive formats, book ended with refreshment breaks and periods of reflection. By reducing the amount of time people are idle, your guests will feel more energized and motivated to stay engaged throughout the day. Crowd-polling, graffiti boards and participant-driven open spaces are all great ways to maximize audience interaction.
Regardless of your audience demographic, taking steps to accommodate even the most sensitive or unforgiving guest will ensure your event goes off without a hitch. Share any tips and tricks you have below!