We’ve all heard it before, “healthy attendees equal happier, more engaged attendees.” But what, exactly, constitutes a “healthy” attendee? Do they only eat vegetables, run a 5k every morning and drink nothing but water? Maybe. But as meeting planners, we should be considering the wide range of attendees that might be at those meetings.
Varying levels of fitness, age, capabilities, different expectations for food options, and wide-ranging willingness to try something new are all factors to consider. While some attendees will jump at the chance to participate in a run before the program begins or do yoga poses in a large group, others might cringe at the idea. So how do we accommodate all levels of health? Below are five things to think about to create a balance in attendee wellness at your event.
We know it’s hard to believe, but there are people out there who enjoy indulging when they travel. Just because an attendee isn’t in total vacation mode doesn’t mean that they aren’t looking to treat themselves to snacks or meals that they typically stay away from at home. The key here is to have healthy options like fresh berries and nuts, but also include items like chocolate or cookies for those who want it.
Happy hours are a welcomed break and a perfect networking opportunity. But not everyone will want to grab a beer while they chat. A good option for those looking to have a healthier beverage is orange juice or “mocktails” to get a break from water. And for those still looking to hydrate, carbonated water can even be included in the drinks for a win-win!
The opposite of cool, calm and collected is anxious and sweaty. Providing opportunities for group sessions such as a 5k are great – but don’t leave people behind who are uncomfortable in those types of situations. Think about in-room fitness kits with custom exercises. Many hotels are already providing these types of services for their clientele, so leverage that personal trainer to create an all-level workout that attendees can execute in the comfort of their rooms and take with them-or not, no one needs to know!
Smartphones keep us connected 24/7. For events, they provide endless opportunities to communicate and engage with attendees. But being “plugged in” every waking hour isn’t necessarily a pillar of health. Taking time to disengage can be difficult to come by when attendees are at events but still need to fulfill duties back at the office. How many of us have peeked at our email while listening to a speaker? To allow a true break from technology, think about the concept of a “digital detox session”- a planned outdoor break where attendees show up without any technology and dedicate the time to connecting with each other and nature. If the weather isn’t ideal, it can still be done in a quiet space indoors.
Studies consistently show that regular meditation has all sorts of benefits for both your mental and physical health. Many of these benefits translate to better meetings, as well – stronger focus, improved memory, and a positive, proactive attitude can help your attendees make the most of your event. But meditation isn’t easy, especially for newbies whose minds are racing with information overload. You can make it more accessible by layering mindfulness training throughout the program, creating tension-relieving breaks, designating quiet zones near your meeting space for reflection, or adding a brief keynote about meditation that incorporates playful mindfulness exercises that are easy to incorporate into daily life. Remember, even watching and listening to your breath is a form of meditation – it doesn’t have to be complex to be effective.
Whether you want to incorporate bits and pieces of wellness culture into your program or make it the focus, remember to think about balance. Being healthy, health-conscious, a health nut – it’s different for everyone and the key is to provide a variety of options that satisfy all the levels of wellness.
Get more tips on How to Incorporate Attendee Wellness Into Your Next Program from BCD M&E Director of Performance Optimization, Jenna Baker.
by Mindy Hanzlik, Senior Solution Designer at BCD Meetings & Events
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