Meetings

Attendee Burnout: What Can You Do to Prevent It?

By / Aug 16, 2018 (kickimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

You want your conference attendees to be focused and productive, but the traditional design of a meeting can often wear them out. Three ways your association can reduce the risk of attendee burnout.

Associations are spending more time considering their employees’ well-being and what they should be doing to prevent burnout.

And the reasons for doing so are important. Happy and healthy employees are often a sign of a good workplace culture—and there are a number of benefits that come along with that, including increased productivity levels, lower healthcare costs, and higher employee retention rates, among others.

But associations should also be considering how they can prevent burnout in their conference attendees. Think about your annual meeting for a minute: It probably includes several blocks of education sessions, hours of networking time, events every night, and very little time for attendees to relax.

And while you may have the best intentions in designing your meeting this way, you could be running your attendees ragged. Here are three things to consider doing to reduce the likelihood of attendee burnout:

Give them some free time. While a planner’s first instinct may to fill up an attendees’ entire day with learning and networking opportunities, there’s nothing wrong with building some downtime into the agenda. Breaks let attendees rest, catch up with personal business, speak to family and friends, explore the host city, or work out—all of which will make them more attentive during sessions, meetings, and networking events.

Provide attendees with a place to escape to. Even if you build in downtime, your attendees may still hit a point where they want to be alone and just relax in peaceful surroundings. Many associations offer quiet rooms or relaxation lounges where attendees can go to rest and regroup.

I’d also suggest that your association not only promote that these spaces are available but also encourage attendees to use them. If you’re upfront and say, “Hey, we know this meeting can be exhausting. Please take advantage of this quiet room to make some time for you,” it shows that your association cares—and that no judgment will be made against attendees who use them.

Consider meal time “refuel time.” Eating the right foods can boost brain power by as much as 20 percent, according to the World Health Organization. That’s why it’s important to provide your attendees with “fuel” that will keep them focused and productive. A post on Meetings Imagined suggests that lunch and dinner meals include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, nuts, and whole grains. They also recommend incorporating healthy snacks throughout the day to keep attendees going. Options on that front include fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, low-sugar granola, bean dips, hummus, and no-sugar cottage cheese and yogurt.

What does your association do at its conference to prevent attendee burnout? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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