4 Brain-Friendly Event Planning Principles

Posted by Kara Wood - February 24, 2014

blogimagefThe 21st century of conferences and annual general meetings has changed. Be prepared for a different breed of attendee and presenter that is evolving. If you’re an organizer who hopes to retain new clients and create a memorable conference, you have to address that the old fashioned way of hosting a conference – sitting for 8 hours in a room and visiting countless booths – is not sustainable anymore.

Jeff Hurt, a leading voice on conference and event planning, recently wrote a great blog on this topic. He states:

“If you wanted to create a conference environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like today’s conferences, meetings and workshops.”

We found this quite funny and relevant. We need to help educate and raise awareness that there is a supportive movement towards a change in how Events and Conferences are organized and planned.

There is much research now that shows how people learn and best retain information in a meeting and conference setting. What are the “brain scientists” saying about how people learn and retain information?

Here are the Top 4 Principles to planning a Brain Friendly and Memorable Conference or Meeting

  1. MovementOur brains need oxygen to work properly and sitting in a conference room is not a smart way to get people to retain information. We need to host presentations that require interactivity and get people up and moving around. Many of our events are planned at places where attendees can walk and talk during and after a session.
  2. Emotions
    It is difficult for anyone (even those with photographic memories) to remember eight hours of lectures in one day. Conference organizers need to structure and provide emotional arousal, context and meaning, which will lead to retention of information. Presentations need to be held in memorable places and attendees must be given experiences that they will assign to the content that they were learning or discussing. People will always remember the conversation that took place near ocean or mountain views.
  3. Down Time
    Like we mentioned above, the brain cannot be expected to handle eight hours of meetings and listening. Pushing too much information without enough time devoted to thinking about the context of the content will not garner the expected outcomes of annual meetings or conferences. The attendee’s learning is sacrificed. Attendees’ need breaks during conferences and meetings and that is why we like to host our events at places that support this type of learning. Just a few of the places we’ve hosted meetings include golf courses, eco ranches, wineries and luxurious spas.
  4. 10 Minutes
    Research shows that presenters have 30 seconds to grab someone’s attention and only 10 minutes to keep it. Most conference presentations are 60 to 90 minutes long. We like to suggest to our presenters that they connect each segment of the conference with rich context, as well as change their content every 10 minutes so that the speaker can help the attendees learn and remember it.

We know that planning a conference is difficult and there are many moving parts, but we must remember why companies organize them and why attendees chose to go. There are many important announcements, decisions and changes that can be made during these annual meetings or conferences and these are just a few little tips and tricks that you as a conference organizer can use to make sure that the planning and implementation of your conference is memorable and amazing.

[Source: Jeff Hurt Blog]