Activities to help Event Profs combat the January lull

QHotels Haka activity

January is arguably the most challenging month for many.

Christmas is over, the nights are long and New Year's resolutions have already been broken. In short, the January blues have set in. 

And the low mood - culminating in the so-called 'Blue Monday', the third Monday in January - can have a significant effect in the workplace, with motivation and concentration levels at their lowest and employee absence at its peak.

Conferences, events and meetings out of the office can provide a welcome change in January. However, event organisers, speakers and hosts still face the challenge of keeping delegates engaged throughout a long day of presentations, talks or activities.

So what can organisers, speakers or hosts do to combat those concentration lulls?

Firstly, it's important to be aware of the key points when dips in concentration are most likely to happen.

Our recent research with event organisers - which monitored brain activity to track the changing thoughts, feelings and behaviours of attendees during conferences and events - found that:

  • The average delegate's concentration starts to drop after just 3.5 minutes
  • Concentration levels are at their lowest, on average, 26 minutes before the lunch
  • Delegates who took notes during the event, or tweeted about the seminar, were likely to process information more fluently, and remain engaged for longer
  • 75% of delegates switched off if they were already familiar with the content, regardless of the quality of the speaker

It's also crucial to have some tools and techniques planned in to combat the dips.  Based on our findings, we recommend:

  • Encouraging delegates to take notes and use social media throughout the event
  • Providing good quality, filling food at the start of the day or during a morning break
  • Bringing lunch forward by 30 minutes, but not telling delegates

Our research also showed that physical activity at the beginning of an event stimulated delegates' alpha brainwaves and helped them concentrate for longer.

So we've joined up with our teambuilding partner, Team Spirit, to share some quick and simple energising activities that organisers can incorporate to enhance events of any kind this January.

Energising activities to try:

1, 2, 3 juggle

What is it? A simple, juggling-based ice-breaker, this session teaches delegates how to juggle with three balls.

Time: 15 - 20 minutes
Environment: Indoors or outside

Why it works: The 1,2,3 juggling exercise is all about co-ordination and getting different parts of the brain working together.  It requires all delegates to be in the moment, giving 100% concentration, which results in a greater focus on the content that follows. 

Perfect for: Warming up before a presentation, talk or training session, to get the brain working hard. 

The Haka

What is it? The Haka is a traditional Maori tribal dance, probably best known as the pre-match ritual of the New Zealand All Blacks.

A traditional war dance with real attitude, the Haka is meant to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy.  The session starts with a live demonstration, teaching delegates a simple routine. After a few practice runs the Haka is then performed as one by the entire conference.

Time: 30 - 60 minutes
Environment: Indoors or outside

Why it works:  Physical activity releases endorphins in the brain, which can help reduce stress levels and improve the mood of delegates, resulting in a clearer mind and more engaged delegates. The Haka is also an extremely immersive experience, with the interactive element making attendees feel better connected with each other and much more engaged with the conference or event. 

Perfect for: Getting delegates geared up and passionate before a large conference or teambuilding event.

The full findings from QHotels' research can be found in the QHotels Brainwaves Report.


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