5 Ways to Refresh Your Meeting Breaks

breaktime2Sitting as they say, is the new smoking, and we’re all doing it way too much at the office and at those super sedentary meetings and conferences. Granted, clients want to pack as much as possible into a limited amount of time, but in the process attendees barely get a moment to breathe. Consequently, they’re stressed out, distracted and less able to process and absorb all that great information your client’s serving up. Seems a little counter-productive, eh?

So, what’s a planner to do? Think mind/body breaks – as in breaks and brief but rejuvenating activities that go beyond the typical 10-minute coffee, cookie and pit-stop routine. By offering attendees the opportunity to change gears (both physically and mentally) at several intervals throughout the day, you’ll help keep them on their toes – and better able to retain the take-aways your client hopes to send them home with. To break your group out of the same-old break-time rut, consider the following options:

1) Have a mindful morning
To help guests relax, reduce stress levels and focus before the day gets under way, offer a pre-session, morning meditation (optional, of course). Set aside a breakout room and hire a local instructor to lead a simple, 20-minute, guided meditation for all levels (beginner to pro). Schedule the morning meditation to begin about 45 minutes before the official morning sessions begin, to allow meditators time to get to the first session of the day rush and stress-free.

2) Give it a little twist
Offering a pre-morning-session yoga class may seem like a great idea on paper, but the reality is that it’s tough for guests to do sun salutations and downward-facing-dogs in business attire, and often props are required as well (i.e., mats, blocks, etc.) Instead of yoga, try offering a simple, beginner level tai chi, qi gong or standing stretch session to encourage blood flow and energize guests, sweat and caffeine-free (prop-free, too!).

3) Break for back-rubs
Just about any time of day, a 5-minute chair massage is a welcome stress buster. Consider offering chair massage sessions during the mid-morning coffee break and again right after the last morning session and before lunch. Keep in mind most massage therapists have 2-to-4-hour minimums for on-site sessions, so be sure to schedule accordingly by booking therapists for either morning break thru lunch, or post-lunch through the afternoon break. Book as many therapists as budget permits to handle the crowd and keep wait-times short –  and be sure to post event staff nearby to manage the flow.

4) Wake up! Wake up!
Depending on the menu, a big lunchtime meal can fast-track guests into a carb-induced coma – not good news for those afternoon speakers you’ve got planned. To rev-up the assembled for the second half of the day, keep ‘em in the luncheon ballroom, and hire a high-energy, local trainer to lead a simple, post-lunch, 5-minute stretch session before coffee and dessert arrives. It’s a fun way to bust a little stress, loosen up the crowd and reboot minds and bodies for the afternoon.

5) Help put ‘em to sleep
A few years back I was a guest at a corporate retreat, which offered optional, nightly, post-dinner wind-down sessions, consisting of a few gentle stretches, followed by a 20-minute meditation led by a local practitioner. Sessions were held in a quiet, peaceful outbuilding on-property, decorated with low lighting, candles, a few pillows and beanbag chairs. While initially a few guests balked at the idea, afterwards, the positive response was unanimous – and wind-down sessions later became a must-do activity at the company’s subsequent retreats.

For more thoughts on keeping your group engaged, take a look at 5 Considerations for Group Activities.

Photos: Shutterstock.com

Kate Doyle Hooper

Kate Doyle Hooper

Since establishing her own company over a decade ago, Kate has produced just about every kind of event imaginable, from executive meetings and conferences to live music performances, mobile tours, fashion shows, celebrity gifting suites, and retail events for companies such as American Media, Bloomingdale’s, Conde Nast, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Hearst, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Time Inc., Wilhelmina Models and Rodale, to name a few. Kate's editorial and advertising work has been published in Budget Living, ELLE, Fit, Civilization, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, Essence, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Men's Fitness, Men's Health and Shape, as well as on blog.cvent.com and weekendwalk.com.

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