Friday, March 9, 2012

Brain Energizing Breaks: Keeping Attendees Engaged

Meeting breaks are a necessary aspect of meetings and conferences, yet many planners are unaware of their vital importance to our brain function. They contribute to brain retention and productivity and are extremely beneficial to attendees. The most effective meeting breaks are those that are physically and mentally engaging, for example: games, networking, team building and outdoor activities.

People can only listen for a certain amount of time before needing a mental break. Breaks for silent reflection are shown to be extremely beneficial to our brains because it allows them to recharge. After a 20-30 minute seminar, a 10-15 minute silent break can refresh and revive the brain and prepare it for new information.

Meeting breaks should always have a strong purpose. At Sales Meeting and other internal company meeting, networking and team building breaks remind the attendees of why they are there- to work together to make their company the best it can be. Breaks can also include lighthearted play that energizes attendees. Having games outdoors makes these breaks even more beneficial.  An example of a fun team building activity is a scavenger hunt around the meeting property. Attendees must join together to find such items as a chef’s hat or towel with the hotel’s emblem on it. This kind of activity allows people to work together and form alliances that bring everyone together. It is proven that when people are given permission to play their barriers break down and their eyes and ears are more open to information.

Food plays a very important role in keeping everyone alert, and incorporating food into meeting breaks can improve the overall experience as well as brain function. The best types of food to eat during breaks are those that do not contain sugar, flower, or caffeine. Of course, coffee and tea are sometimes a necessary aspect of keeping our brains awake; however water is much more beneficial to brain retention. Planners can design food breaks to encourage creativity among attendees. For example if the meeting or conference is for a specific company, the food can reflect the company colors.

Energizing and engaging meeting breaks can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of a meeting. They are extremely beneficial to the attendee by encouraging creativity, friendship and reflection.

For more information, see “Brain-Power Breaks” in Meeting Focus East Magazine (September 2011).

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