The ultimate goal of passionate event professionals is to create a program that is not only incredibly valuable for participants and stakeholders, but also a truly transformational experience for all.
Adding meaning, whether it be connecting to the objectives in a visceral way, connecting with a destination, or connecting with each other, is a surefire way to keep your attendees coming back year after year and staying engaged with your meetings. Here are 10 ways to create more meaning at your next event:
1. Utilize mindfulness
Incorporating mindfulness activities into events can help reduce stress, increase engagement and improve knowledge retention. Experts like Lee Papa have been working for years on adding a foundation of mindfulness to events of all sizes, with amazing results.
2. Kick off with a leadership workshop
High energy group activities are a great way to start an event. Getting attendees in a creative, productive, and engaged mindset on day one gives people the boost they need to maintain their energy and focus throughout a long program. Engagement Unlimited’s Bizprov workshop can open your participants minds and help them tackle challenges and roadblocks in the workplace with a fun, dynamic mindset.
3. Practice gratitude
Like mindfulness, gratitude has many well-documented benefits: it improves well-being, reduces, impatience, boosts brain function, and reduces stress. It’s easy to incorporate small moments of gratitude into any size of event, and you’ll be glad that you did. A great way to build in gratitude is to incorporate a 'Learning Coach' or 'Conference Engineer' to your programming. Check out our philosophy about this integral role here.
4. Add a give-back team building program
Programs like Engagement Unlimited’s Playschool Playscapes bring more value to an event. You’re not just throwing money at a charity, attendees have a chance to get their hands dirty and work towards a common goal. By the end, they feel like they have personally made an immediate and tangible difference.
5. Connect with the destination
Conferences, seminars, AGM’s, and other events are often held in some of the most beautiful places in the world. But unless they’re lucky, attendees may only ever see the inside of the conference room, and a snatch of a view going to and from the airport. A team scavenger hunt is a great way to give attendees a chance to engage with the destination and get the most out of their trip.
6. Spend time curating content specifically for your audience
Let’s face it, a lot of soft-skills content gets recycled from event to event in this industry. How do you keep things fresh? The best speakers know how to turn each talk into a storytelling experience with a seamless, cohesive message that speaks to each unique audience. If you don’t know where to begin for your event, Roger Haskett is here to help.
7. Design your “big why” - the shared vision
A shared vision brings people together under a common goal. High level, well thought out objectives will keep your team on track and create a culture of shared ownership. With your whole team on board, it’s easy for them to communicate your vision to attendees and turn them into active participants. And remember, sometimes less is more when to comes to program design.
8. Engage attendees in the conversation
Hashtags, photo booths, and online draws and competitions are only the beginning when it comes to engaging with your audience. Before the event, try crowd sourcing ideas for topics and speakers based on your theme. Not only will people be more invested in your event, you’ll have a better idea of what they actually want. Hackathons are another really popular way of involving attendees in creation, rather than pure consumption.
9. Do less with more
Don’t cram every second of the program full of sessions. Giving people unstructured time to relax, network, and absorb all the information flying around will keep them energized and happy. Consider building breaks in between sessions, reserving a longer time for a sit-down lunch, and encourage speakers to include time at the end of their session for questions and reflection.
10. Have fun!
Nobody is going to argue that fun is, well, fun, but did you know it’s beneficial for learning too? Laughter reduces cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress), and releases dopamine (the one that makes you feel good). Play has been scientifically proven to be one of the best methods to create engagement, increase performance, and supercharge creativity and innovation.
Play can be incorporated into any kind of event session - presentations, panel discussions, break-out sessions, etc. Happy participants means better ROI for everyone!
Here are some more ideas on how to add play to your next meeting.