Create MINDFUL Attendee EXPERIENCES
It’s easy to correlate the term “mindfulness” with meditation. Although similar, mindfulness has a stronger association with external awareness than what’s encouraged through meditation. Meditation is usually an inward reflection of thought. Mindfulness is taking focus on the current moment and encompassing more than just that thought; it also includes feelings and sensations. So how do you create mindful attendee experiences?
Bringing mindfulness to the events industry is not a new concept. However, It is gaining recognition as a valuable tool used to focus an audience on the subject at hand. Dave Crenshaw, author of The Myth of Multitasking: How Doing It All Gets Nothing Done, stated, “Time management is dead; in our day the true struggle is focus management.”
Although there might be some that disagree, this statement probably takes a significant resonance with those who often feel distracted. As our world broadens, phones in our hands that hold nearly anything we could possibly want to know (Ok Google: how do I hard-boil an egg?), we are increasingly preoccupied with sporadic and unconscious thoughts.
“Time management is dead; in our day the true struggle is focus management.” - Dave Crenshaw
Why Does This Effect Events?
As an event organizer, the goal is to present a memorable experience. There are plenty of sources where the attendee can gather the data that’s being presented. What they can’t do through research, they attend in-person events for. The opportunity to network, a presenter being able to cater to audience reaction, body-language, and social cues; that’s what face-to-face meetings and events promote.
Though it’s a common concern, we’ve concluded that the advent of emerging technologies isn’t endangering the future of events. (We promise, those Millennials like their in-person networking opportunities, read more here.) We’re confident that events, tradeshows, exhibitions, conferences and the like will remain in the forefront of marketing efforts. But, where the market is likely to be more competitive is in which events are worth attending. Simply providing these opportunities isn’t enough anymore.
This is why so many are constantly stressing the importance of making the attendee and sponsorship experience more memorable. Creating mindful attendee experiences can be a big part of this.
Let’s Make Experience and Mindfulness Synonymous
When planning an event, you want to make it spectacular. When you think of an event you imagine: energetic music, lights, people, vendors, booths, signs, TV’s, the list goes on and on. How effective can this really be to the attendees? Not as much as we’d like to think. Sensory overload is all too common and something that can easily be avoided. It’s seems that this realization is catching on rapidly. It’s not always in a shows best interest to fill every moment of the day with sessions and speakers.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing active attention on the present. When we’re attempting to deliver a message that resonates with an audience, we want to make the connection that can’t be conveyed anywhere else. The value that attendees can take away from an event can be so much greater if they are encouraged to participate in the moment.
This means that creating a greater focus on impact, interaction, and attention could yield greater results than providing what many event organizers perceive as greater value. Often, it’s thought that more stimuli (speakers, sessions, etc.) means more value. But, when we think about what the attendee wants out of the show it’s easy to see that what they really want are experiences; interactions with other industry people, access to unique information, the ability to explore and find their own answers, and more.
Providing more interactive experiences, and facilitating greater access to networking and industry information, will allow attendees to focus their attention on the things that are most attractive to them. This promotes a mindful attendee experience.
So How Do We Encourage Mindfulness?
We’ve seen a monumental embrace of the concept of mindfulness from leaders like: Apple, Target, Google, top trade shows, leading continuing education programs, and so many more. There’s something to this that is going to theoretically change the way we teach and train.
Although there is years of extensive neuroscience and psychological research backing the benefits of mindfulness, we are only now beginning to see the implementation. Why? There’s a stigma that because this is scientifically backed and a corporate initiative that it must be expensive or timely.
It’s implemented in the things that you’re already doing. Just because there are institutions created specifically with this technique in mind, doesn’t make it something unattainable by us. However, don’t be misconstrued that with this you’re “taking over the audiences mind”. It’s far the opposite, you are giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for their own mind. It’s not a solution for stress; it’s a method to encourage living in the now without judgement or reserve. Let’s look at three very real ways we can take a step forward in creating that memorable experience for our attendees.
- Ambiance: consider how you can allow for an impression that isn’t focused solely on branding, lighting and music. Introduce things with time, attendees are already overwhelmed when arriving to a place they aren’t familiar with and surrounded by people they don’t know.
- Scheduling: don’t jam pack every available moment. It’s about the connections and the networking at conferences and events. Give time and space to encourage mingling, and better yet, look outdoors! Nature is something we are familiar with no matter where we are.
- Allow time for self-collection: it’s no wonder people seem to wander back to hotel rooms after a busy morning. They’re already exhausted and haven’t even had the chance yet to sit and eat, catch up with the kids, check-in at work, and process everything they’ve already learned. Give support to this need to recollect.
We don’t see mindfulness as a passing fad. We appreciate the value that being mindful brings to our audiences, speakers, co-workers, and self. What do you think about bringing mindfulness into events? Successful or trendy?