by Dana Freker Doody VP, Communications and Public Relations
Mindfulness, wellness and planning for the whole person are variations of a theme running through the events world: Attendees are people too. As people, attendees — and the rest of your stakeholders including exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and even press — need to understand how your event makes them a better employee, better leader, even a better person.
The science of happiness is increasingly being studied, and prevalent among those pushing for a greater understanding of how humans can be happier is best-selling author Shawn Achor. In his latest book, Big Potential, Achor examines several happiness studies and even lays out a few tips for how people can be happier. Events come into play because, it turns out, happiness is not a one-person job. Community connections are vital.
Our brains are designed to be wirelessly connected, making happiness, joy and faith shared traits.
Big potential is what we achieve when we interact with the entire potential around us, when we fire up the connections.
Sounds like a job for face-to-face events!
In addition, breaking out of patterns boosts happiness. If a person views the world through the same pattern for too long, the brain just seeks to keep the pattern, even though it’s not working for you. Even if that pattern is not producing positive sentiment, opportunities for advancement or solutions to challenges. As business event strategists, it's even more vital to keep introducing new things at events to avoid these patterns not just for our own teams but also for all our stakeholders.
The ability to break the office pattern and get to an event inspires learning, and indeed, happiness.
A third impact events can have on happiness is when it comes to gratitude, a leading factor to a person's happiness level. As a culture or an event community, small activations can result in the kind of memorable event that keeps attendees returning.
Idea 1: Express Gratitude
Have a card at a meal function encouraging table mates to talk around the table and express gratitude. The prescription is to find three new things for which to be grateful every 24 hours.
Idea 2: Gratitude Collection
Use a glass jar that can fill up for big impact on site, or consider a fun display that encourages your community members to be more open about their thoughts. This can be a general gratitude statement, or it may be something tied to your work - "What makes you grateful to be working in this space?"
More intimate groups may find these gratitude statements compelling enough to turn into content — read aloud at a general session, or added to the waiting slides before such a session starts. Social media or blog posts including the statements extend the happiness, again by encouraging connections across the community and to yourselves as the event planner. Gratitude knits people together, Achor says.
Idea 3: Send Gratitude
This is an idea that can be small scale or tried at a large event. Take two minutes to write a positive email or thank you card and send it to a colleague, partner or supporter. This has been done by events sending notes to troops serving abroad, and CSR activations at events often include the opportunity for a personal note of encouragement. Think about how your event community might be able to physically or electronically send notes of gratitude to those not necessarily at your event to extend the goodwill. Encourage them to keep up these habits of gratitude, ending a thank you email every morning for 21 days turns it into a habit, because gratitude must be practiced.
How can gratitude knot your event community together? What objectives do you have as an organization or for your event that might be improved by a gratitude activation?