Well-being at Virtual Events: Why You Should Add it to Your Agenda
At the time of writing, it is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK. Therefore, we wanted to use this space to talk a little bit about well-being at events.
With the rise of isolating measures and restrictions, the coronavirus outbreak understandably brought about a concern for well-being, whether it was family members, employees, or friends.
Our usual ways of connecting with one another were disrupted, and this was felt acutely through the events industry. However, as a resilient and evolving industry, events started to cater for more personalised and attendee-centric activities, including a focus on well-being in a bid to remain connected and grounded.
In fact, this was an upcoming trend before the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, we published a guide to virtual and hybrid events which included global event trends and forecasts. While forecasts were a little difficult to predict due to the coronavirus outbreak, we were able to look at several surveys and pre-COVID event activity to draw conclusions on where live events was likely to head in 2020.
While those predictions were based upon previous live event data, it was obvious that events were taking a more personal approach to their marketing and agendas, by really placing the attendee at the heart of the event through personalised messaging and different kinds of well-being activities.
Now, we’re seeing a rise of the well-being virtual event, whether this is a whole event dedicated to the well-being of your attendees, or well-being activities added to agendas of events of all shapes and sizes.
You may be thinking ‘why should I add well-being activities to my agenda when I could use that time to sell to my attendees or educate my employees’. Well, it turns out a little well-being goes a long way and with the recent rise in stress among adults, we venture to say your attendees will thank you for it.
And if you still need more of a self-serving reason to add well-being activities to your events (although, we know you’re better than that), studies prove that people who are calmer and less stressed retain information better, and are therefore able to digest the information provided to them at your event with greater ease.
So, now you know why you should be adding well-being activities to your live, virtual and/or hybrid agenda, let’s take a look at how!
Invite your attendees to move around
Keep your attendees on their toes – literally! A great way to keep your audience focused and to get the blood pumping is to add a movement segment to your online event. This can be as simple as a gentle stretching class or you could go all out with a dance or Zumba class!
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that your attendees are likely of different abilities. We highly recommend you hire a professional to take the class, so you can cater to all abilities while keeping everyone safe.
Most fitness sessions have now had their online debut. Previous exercise sessions we’ve seen in online events include different dance classes, barre, Zumba, Pilates, yoga, and HIIT! If you’re not sure which one will encourage the most attendees, why not ask your audience! Before your event, ask your attendees which class would interest them more. That way you can go with the majority winner and give your audience the class they are most likely to attend.
Remember to keep it light-hearted – this should act as a fun way to break up a more stationary event since virtual events involve a lot of sitting down. We don’t recommend you bring in a militant instructor whose only goal is to make your attendees sweat (or cry). Instead, try to find an instructor who’s there to inspire your attendees and get them focused on their body and movement.
Calm the mind with mindfulness sessions
All events, whether they are live or virtual, can be hectic sometimes. Busy agendas and constant networking opportunities mean that your attendees don’t often have time to stop and take a breath.
Why not change that with a mindfulness session added to your agenda? Stopping to check in with your mind and body can do wonders for attention span, focus and all-round well-being. Your mindfulness session could look like a meditation session or relaxation class.
Find a mindfulness coach who can guide your attendees through the simple meditation and relaxation processes which can reset their energy levels and keep them grounded. Frequent meditation has been shown to increase self-awareness, improve focus and reduce anxiety – however, benefits can be felt from the first session.
Not only this, but group meditation and relaxation classes, while they may feel out of place in the beginning, help you attendees feel connected to one another in their experiences.
Create spaces for your attendees to connect
Attending virtual or online events can sometimes feel slightly isolating when compared to their face-to-face counterparts.
A sense of connection with others has been proven to lower depression and anxiety, and this has become a huge concern for people over the last 12 months or so. Therefore, facilitating your attendees to connect with each other will have the ability to increase your attendee’s overall mood and well-being during the event.
We’ve spoken about the ability to network at virtual and online events, however there are other ways that your audience can interact with one another, without the topic having to be work related.
There are solutions that enable you to match up your attendees based on their common interests, allowing users to form human connections with like-minded people.
These are great ways to conclude your events. Why not host a post-event ‘party’? This allows your attendees to wind down with conversations not about business or work and get to know their fellow attendees better. This can be likened to going to the local restaurant or café after the event and bumping into attendees, but a little more structured. Also, as we’re on the topic of wellness, why not leave the alcohol at the bar.
Give your attendees a break!
As tempting as it is as an events organiser to try and fill your agenda with fantastic content and engaging sessions, in the spirit of well-being we would recommend leaving a break in your agenda which allows your attendees and your event staff to have a break and decompress for 45 minutes or so.
This is a great way to refresh everyone involved in your event, making sure you don’t overwhelm anyone. Once again, this will help refresh your audience and ensure they are ready to take on their next sessions without becoming despondent.
The key to this is to not try to fill your agenda with too much to do all at once. Breaks in the agenda are likely to result in less drop-off towards the end of the day, making sure both you and your attendees get the most out of your event.
Send your attendees a wellness package before the event
Gift bags have always been a well-established part of events, however with a growing awareness of sustainability and well-being, take this opportunity to revisit your parting gifts.
For the most part, it appears that gift bags have fallen by the wayside due to less in-person events, however for well-being purposes, it may serve to send your attendees a wellness package before the event that they are able to use on the day. This can range from reusable water bottles to books on meditation. It really is up to you and what you feel is relevant and on-brand for your event.
Sending a sustainable gift package shows your attendees that you truly do care and adds that personal touch we’re sure they’ll be grateful for.
Virtual well-being activities are a great way to break up your online agenda and add a bit of interactivity and calm to what could otherwise be a hectic day!
Well-being sessions can fit almost any budget, depending on what activity you choose to go for – making them a popular choice for new virtual events, especially during a time when connecting with others is so precious.
So, show your attendees you care about their well-being by incorporating wellness activities into your agenda. We guarantee your audience will thank you for it.
If you’re interested in integrating well-being activities into your event but you’re not sure how, get in touch. One of our knowledgeable event experts will be able to help you.