21 May Let’s Talk Truth: Planning Healthy Meetings Isn’t Always Easy
Healthy choices are being incorporated into meetings everywhere; high-quality meals are being made, exercise classes are being offered, and more and more self-care options are being provided. My travels have included serving multiple meeting planning groups in the last few weeks and I love hearing all the creative ways they’re increasing the health of their meetings. I also hear, though, how difficult it can be to make it all happen . . . what a perfect topic for the newsletter this week! Regardless of whether you’re planning a board meeting for 10, or a huge conference that serves thousands, these simple ideas can support your efforts and help create ease for all.
Baby steps are perfect steps. Attendees are used to certain experiences, structure, and even meals at their events. Changing everything in one fell swoop can disrupt their view of a positive experience and quite frankly causes a lot of overwhelm for a planner. We want everyone to feel like they’re well cared for and heard. Take small steps to create a shift in the experience. Ideas could include upgrading one key food category in every meal, so attendees recognize tradition and enjoy a slight enhancement for the better of their health. For breaks, provide a mix of traditional fare alongside healthier options. Move away from sugary treats and opt for more whole-food snacks.
Free upgrades are always a plus when there’s a budget to honor. Not every shift you make to enhance the meeting needs to cost money. Need some ideas to help your attendees feel relaxed, on task, and energized? Offer additional time at the end of sessions for attendees to breathe, process the information they learned, and connect with friends. Encourage fresh-air breaks outside the conference area, offer designated walking periods for activity, and get attendees up and moving as often as possible. These all enhance the experience at no cost to you!
Know that you can’t please them all. This is the tough one, as every planner I know tries their best to create an experience that attendees rave about. Bottom line here is that you can only perform at your best. Listen well to your client. Communicate effectively with the event manager and chef to create an exceptional conference. And then RELEASE what you cannot control. Allow attendees to respond however they need to respond, take any feedback received and learn from it for the next event. Many individuals struggle with change, maybe they’re arriving to your conference carrying a lot of hardship or are just having a tough day. We never know, but at the end of the day focus only on that which you can control and let the rest go. This will allow you to serve at your very best and rest well when your head hits the pillow because you’ve given it everything you’ve got and done so to the best of your ability.
You have a beautiful gift to offer those who attend your meetings. The gift of education, connection, inspiration and health. Be the advocate, know that you can make a HUGE difference by shifting the experience one step at a time. We’re here to be a valuable resource to you; let us know if we can assist with an idea-storming session, enhance the menu planning process or provide creative ways to address all those allergies and sensitivities on the list! We’ve got you covered.