Health and Wellbeing

Hello again.So it’s 2020… How did that happen? About 5 years ago all the organizations we were working with were rightly looking forward to 2020 and doing their five-year plans. Quite a lot of them were understandably talking about 2020 vision.

2020 Vision – What does it even mean?!

At a pub quiz we were at recently, one of the questions was ‘what does the 20/20 in 20/20 vision mean’? Do you know? We didn’t. Well apparently, “normal” vision is 20/20. The test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 feet that a person with “normal” vision sees at 20 feet. So 20 /40 means the test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 ft that a normal person sees at 40. Got it? No? Me neither. So the word you’re looking for is …..anyway….

This month we have been looking ahead into the new year and reviewing what we think will be at the forefront of peoples’ minds at work in 2020. And also how we are going to focus on these subjects when we are designing conferences this year and beyond.

So far we’ve covered:

  • The environment and global concerns.
  • How diversity, equity and inclusion is the way for fair-minded companies.

This week we are going to consider:

  • Physical and mental health as a vital consideration for both employers and employees.

And next week we will be looking at:

  • How life-long learning both in and out of work is essential

So let’s think about physical and mental health in terms of what you can expect at a conference where Purple Monster have had some influence in design and delivery.

When we first started doing big conferences for BIG companies some 20 years ago now, the emphasis was always on experiences and getting people to do something rather than just be talked at for three days. Those principles haven’t changed but what is much more nuanced nowadays is the conscious thinking that goes on behind the experience that the attendee has at the conference. We always say that our main job is ‘to look after the delegate experience’ from the minute they walk into the venue until they leave at the end of the day or week.

Now we cannot be made responsible for each individual’s mental health or indeed their physical conditioning but as thoughtful conference designers we do want to create an experience that will be beneficial to people in terms of their physical and mental well- being. So here’s a few pointers…

1. Try and do something that is physically energising without being exclusive to others

We once worked with an executive team who were very competitive amongst themselves and were a great bunch of people to work with.

When we arrived at the venue we were told that we were going to start Monday morning with a five mile run, Tuesday morning was a ten mile cycle ride and Wednesday morning was a swim. Wow. Now we like exercise and understand that as a team they really bonded over this physical start to the day but I always wondered what it was like when a new member joined the team.

Did they feel compelled to join in? What would happen if they weren’t a physical type? It was also rather exclusive. It didn’t mean to be but it was. If anyone suffered an injury or was dealing with any physical impairment then their place in the team was ‘diminished’ by their inability to join in.

But physical well-being is terribly important, so it is always worth considering leaving time in the agenda for people to start their day in the way they want to.

  • Leave space in the agenda in the morning and at the close of the day for people to fit in their own way to re-energize.
  • Hopefully your venue will have one but if not, try and find access to a good gym. People like the gym and the benefits, of course, are enormous.
  • Consider planning physical sessions with a sponsor. Allow one team member to take the lead when planning a run or a swim or for that matter a cycle ride. And ensure that all levels are catered for.
  • Offer a gentler alternative. Yoga or Pilates is a great way to start the day. It doesn’t suit everyone but for the less physically competitive it can be a great way in to physical wellness.
  • Always ensure that there is plenty of water on hand throughout the days (in a reusable bottle of course)

2. Design sessions that have mental well-being at the heart

Recently we were part of a conference and the whole venue made it a restful experience. The venue planner had very thoughtfully booked the venue right on the seafront overlooking a beautiful Mediterranean bay.

We know not every conference or meeting can be in such beautiful surroundings but this definitely had a gentler quality to it and we were assured by them that the rate was not significantly worse than for a swanky city hotel with all the accompanying urban expense.

  • Factor in well being sessions into the design. As well as the physical, include mentally stimulating options as a way to kick off your days.
  • Look outside of the ordinary. There are wonderful restful options out there like Street Wisdom and Zentangle. They take the same amount of time as a run or gym session and will appeal to the less physically inclined colleagues.
  • There a thousands of brilliant TED talks around well being and mental wellness. Include these in your conference design. Either share links to them or base your actual sessions around them.

3. Appetite and Refreshment

We talked last week around ensuring that diet and dietary requirements are taken into account. There are other considerations too though:

  • Ensure the venue and conference has ‘healthy’ snacks and that the breaks are not just a long line of people queuing for one coffee machine.
  • Carbohydrates can make you sleepy. Lots of fresh produce is a good plan.
  • Make breaks in the day significantly long enough to allow people to recharge their batteries. Don’t rush them back into session after a 30 minute lunch break because you have to let Kris have the full 2 hours for their strategic ideation presentation
  • We are not the arbiters of moderation and certainly are not advocating temperance at all of our meetings but please do consider the availability of alcohol throughout your meeting. Don’t have a Gala evening and then expect everyone to show up again at 0800 the next morning for Kris’s strategic ideation presentation. Plan accordingly 😊

So there are just a few examples of the way in which we can impact the health and wellness of our delegates at conferences. It is also a responsibility as good humans, let alone colleagues and workmates to also keep an eye out for those who look as if they are having a tough time or are struggling with a physical condition that is having an impact on their health. We are not suggesting intrusion or intervention but please just continue to question and ask your colleagues if they are doing ok and be prepared to listen when they answer.

Oh, and stop sidelining Kris…what’s the matter with two hours on strategic ideation?

Do you want to make your 2020 events more conscious and mindful whilst not compromising on the engagement, fun and impact?

Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!



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