PCMA and Meetology Group: The science of meetings

Offer plenty of protein
If you want to avoid unhealthy snacking by your attendees research suggests that offering a protein rich breakfast (e.g. eggs, cheese, fish, yoghurt) will keep them fuller for longer.

All male conference?
Research suggests that having a similar mix of each sex is important in group psychology and performance. Although meeting face-to-face and creating a good working environment were both shown to be important so was having enough females in the group. Women tended to be more socially sensitive.

A conference tune?
With repetition, the brain can be encouraged to associate a feeling or emotion with external stimuli. Music can be one such powerful stimulus and some effective conferences have used the same music year after year to open plenary as well as breakout sessions.

A conference caffine fix?
Moderate amounts of caffeine have been shown to positively affect our brain’s performance in areas including visual selective attention, task switching, conflict monitoring and sustained attention within a relatively short time. So offer coffee at your next conference – but encourage attendees not to overdo it!

Small is beautiful
Conferences are generally large affairs but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage smaller group meetings. In larger groups people tend to rely on others to engage and interact when compared to smaller groups. Much smaller breakout sessions are proven to be of value.

The power of social proof
When trying to encourage registrations to your conference, psychology can give you a helping hand. Research indicates that humans are more likely to copy others behaviours if they know many others have already made that same choice. Heavily advertise the number of registrations if they are of a decent number as others are likely to follow.

Encourage doodling
Science says its OK to doodle in meetings so don’t worry if your conference attendees do! Researchers noted a rise in the levels of recall from doodlers as opposed to those who didn’t, so don’t always assume those who are doodling in your conference are not paying attention.

International attendees? Light may be the answer
International conferences by their definition attract a global audience from multiple time zones. Ensuring attendees have access to the right type of light (daylight or light box) may be the answer to helping them overcome the impact on meetings performance.

Train the brain for a better meetings memory?
We’ve all been there – we see a familiar face at a congress but can’t recall their name or where we first met them. Some neuroscientists are now advocating the use of video-based brain training exercises that have been shown to enhance specific brain function including memory; how long before you offer brain gyms at your conference?

Why offer a morning run at a conference?
You see it more and more, the conference morning fun run. Exercise science points to a host of benefits from engaging in physical activity including the fact that your attendees are likely to feel better throughout the day.

– This article was first published in the February edition of Conference News. Any comments? Email conferencenews@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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