Clever Carly: Beating Conference Fatigue
Boost meeting engagement with these five strategies
One quick question: Are you tired?
It’s OK to admit it. Planners and attendees alike, as people, are both prone to feeling a little drained from day-to-day activities. For planners, this means we need to organize events that diligently work to combat that one little thing every meeting planner hates: conference fatigue. (And for guests, well, this means trying not to doze off during said events.)
Every meeting is prone to it, and a tired guest isn’t a knock to your planning skills. But if one attendee is visibly bored, it’s likely that others in the audience are, too—and remember, yawns are contagious.
Here’s a starter list for things you can do to wake attendees up and get them engaged in your meeting:
Know Your Audience
Let’s revisit one of the cardinal rules of event planning: You have to know who you are planning for. Because at the end of the day, how can we ensure that our events are lively enough if we don’t know what “lively” means to our attendees? This means you must be heavily acquainted with your meeting purpose, the client and potential guests to know how to accurately provide an event that can not only fight fatigue but can banish it altogether.
Make It Interactive
Sitting still for long periods of time isn’t fun for anyone, so think about ways to make your meeting interactive. For example, doodling is known to help memory, improve focus and relieve stress, so consider adding an art element to your meeting: Leave colored pens or markers where attendees are seated, and actively invite them to doodle during sessions. Or go deeper and create a makeshift paint studio, and let attendees throw on smocks and become the next Monet during event breaks.
Stretch It Out
One of the best ways to relieve body tension is working out, which can be difficult to do in a meeting setting. That said, mid-meeting breaks that incorporate yoga stretches or other physical activity as a way to work out some of that built-up event energy will leave guests feeling refreshed when it comes time to regroup.
Gamify Your Event
Meetings aren’t always all fun and games, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. Cook up engagement and team building by inviting guests to a little friendly competition. Depending on the game, you’ll get attendees thinking creatively—just remember to pick games suited for your guests. Checkmate!
Give Guests Gifts to Get Excited About
Meeting freebies are a great incentive for many attendees—not to mention that they are the perfect footnote to keep your meeting top of mind. Craft gift bags with meaningful gifts that match your meeting purpose. Better yet, set up a DIY gift bag station that allows guests to pick their own meeting mementos.
Remember that conference fatigue isn’t a personal attack; it’s something that can happen to any of us. The key is to stay on top of it by planning ways ahead of time to attract and hold the attention of your guests. Of course, no idea is one-attendee-fits-all—so maybe steer clear of pillows as décor, just in case.