X-bytes_WellnessBlog_Banner3-2Every meeting planner I talk with lately is looking for ways to engage attendees. They want to get their attendees out of their seats and interacting with each other. They want to deliver something memorable so content sticks.

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3 Ways to Engage Conference Attendees with Fitness Micro-Breaks

Every meeting planner I talk with lately is looking for ways to engage attendees. They want to get their attendees out of their seats and interacting with each other. They want to deliver something memorable so content sticks.

Not surprising, I always recommend engaging attendees with fitness micro-breaks.  Stretch breaks does more than combatting conference fatigue. They can actually get attendees prepared to engage with content and with each other.

Here are three ways to engage your attendees and why they matter:

1. Get Attendees Moving in the Morning

I always tell me teens that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I also encourage them to make their beds every morning. These small actions set the tone for the rest of the day.

Most of your attendees are jet lagged or bogged down with stress from sitting in an office for the past few weeks. Set expectations high and prepare attendees to leave any “baggage” they’ve brought with them at the door.

Engage attendees with a wellness lounge first thing in the morning. Attendees can learn how to use mindfulness and yoga to de-stress and focus on what really matters in the moment. Pair the lounge with a healthy breakfast and you’ve got a winning combination.

Benefits

  • Morning movement awakes the body and mind
  • Yoga and mindfulness training prepare attendees to focus on content
  • Healthy eating practices help attendees retain energy for hours

2. Make Movement a Priority Throughout the Day

One of the biggest sources of conference fatigue is fanny fatigue. Sitting in a seat for hours and hours only does one thing: dulls the mind (and destroys the back).

In fact, the chairs we sit on aren’t even designed to maximize the natural human posture. Check out this Ted Talk from Esther Gokhale for more on posture and proper ways to sit in a chair:

I know, I know. These chairs are affordable. That’s okay, keep using the chairs (but also use Esther’s advice).

Another thing we can do to combat the sitting fatigue, is to simply get our attendees out of their seats and onto their feet.

Integrating stretch videos into the conference session is one way to do this. Some attendees might feel awkward about this at first. But once the entire audience starts moving, they’ll inevitably laugh off their reservations and have fun stretching their limbs.

And talk about two birds with one stone! Studies show that both laughter and movement are essential for brain function.

Benefits

  • Including stretch breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon are needed energy boosters following coffee breaks and lunch
  • Starting each session with a stretch video is a great time filler while attendees are seated, awaiting the session to begin
  • Movement during lengthy sessions improves retention of content and learning objectives

3. Remind Attendees That Fitness is Social

Networking is one of the top reasons to attend a conference, besides education of course. As a meeting planner, try to maximize opportunities for attendees to meet and engage in conversation with each other.

A room full of people, however, can be intimidating. Fun activities that get people moving are the perfect social ice-breakers. Think about the last time you played a game with strangers. The shared experience solving a problem made it easier to collaborate, didn’t it? The same thing happens with fitness.

Take Nilofer Merchant’s Ted Talk on walking meetings:

She says getting out of the box allows us to think out of the box. Make movement an ice-breaker, an idea-generator, and a reason to keep collaborating.

Having walkshops or sessions in the park are a perfect supplement to our conference programs. They feel more natural, more social, and get the whole group talking.

Benefits

  • Conference wellness programs help attendees break the ice
  • Walking meetings are a way to engage all attendees in conversation
  • Movement helps facilitate fresh thinking, laughter and smiles in stale environments, increasing brain function

Let’s get moving!

Keep attendees actively engaged throughout the conference by getting them out of their seats periodically to recharge their bodies and minds. The bottom line is that a fitness break program helps attendees stay focused, prepares attendees for learning, and gets attendees socializing with each other. It’s engagement that matters. And it’s engagement that makes your attendees happier and healthier, and your events more memorable. What more could you want?

Standing up for good health,
Dr. Kim