As M&IW CEO Tina Madden said in her opening State of the Company address at the 2023 M&IW Summit, caring for employee wellness and mental health is no longer a nice-to-have but a need-to-have. The same is true for event attendees.
There are many ways to incorporate wellness into your event, from the food and beverage to the session content to the event design. In this blog, we share how wellness was included in the M&IW Summit as well as other actionable ideas for your next event.
Wellness at the 2023 M&IW Summit
Customer Wellness Lunch
On Day 1 of the Summit, customers were treated to a high-end dining experience curated with wellness in mind. All three courses—porcini and mushroom bisque, Mediterranean bowls or gluten-free pasta primavera, and dark chocolate pot du crème— featured healthy selections, and the table centerpieces were made of herbs that attendees could pick to garnish their meal.
The chef introduced each course and explained how the focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients perfectly complemented the theme of health and wellness as well as sustainability, another important element of the M&IW Summit and of events in general.
Employee Wellness Lunch
Day 2 of the Summit was for M&IW employees only and also included a wellness lunch. Similar to the customer lunch from Day 1, this meal included build-your-own Mediterranean bowls with fresh, healthy ingredients. Dimmed lighting, relaxing music, and specially curated wellness and mindfulness stations elevated the experience.
These stations included mini-massages, aromatherapy, chair yoga with sound baths, and adult coloring pages. Together with the actual meal, they engaged all of the senses. The restorative environment proved a welcome break in the middle of the event, allowing attendees to return to the afternoon’s sessions refreshed and reenergized.
Wellness General Session
One of the general sessions on Day 1 included our spin on TED Talks, which we called StraightTalks. In the wellness-focused session, titled Wellness: Inaction is Costly, M&IW’s Pamela Wuest, Customer Success Manager, shared her personal wellness journey and explored how to include the three Ws of wellness—water, windows, and walking—in events.
- Water: This can be as simple as providing plentiful water stations, but don’t stop there! Offering healthy, fueling food and snacks also contributes to attendee wellness. Providing reusable water bottles is a great way to make your event more sustainable while also encouraging attendees to stay hydrated.
- Windows: While windows may not be available in all event spaces, prioritize those that have them during the sourcing process. At the very least, the venue should include a lobby or foyer with windows so attendees can get natural light between sessions. You can also hold sessions outside when possible.
- Walking: No one likes to sit in the same spot all day, and that includes event attendees. Get them moving by encouraging short walks during breaks (bonus points if there are areas to walk outside) or leading stretching exercises or chair yoga from onstage. Also consider scheduling a group walk or run as an optional morning activity.
Other Ways to Incorporate Wellness into Events
The timing of your event is an important component of wellness. Most adults in the US do not get enough sleep, so if you’re planning a daytime event, start later in the morning to ensure attendees arrive well rested. This also gives fitness enthusiasts time to start the day with a workout if they prefer. Even the extra hour of a 9:00 a.m. start versus 8:00 a.m. can make a difference. Similarly, for evening events, make any late-night activities optional to allow early birds ample opportunity to sleep. If the event continues the next day, push back the start time so attendees can recover from the night before.
The timing of your event is important during the day as well. Plan enough time between sessions to allow for adequate bathroom or water breaks. If a long day of sessions is followed by an evening of networking, add extra time in between for attendees to nap, relax, or simply catch up on work and life. They’ll appreciate the time to themselves and will return ready to engage again.
Designated quiet spaces not only promote mental wellness but are also an act of inclusion for attendees who may need a break from the stimulation of events. Like the employee wellness lunch from the M&IW Summit, these spaces should have dimmed lighting and comfortable seating to encourage physical as well as mental wellbeing. Time in a quiet space helps refresh and reenergize attendees and are especially helpful during multi-day events.
Group fun runs are a great way to kick off an event because they get attendees excited and moving. Choose a theme and offer a prize for best dressed to encourage greater engagement and participation. You can also turn the run into a giveback initiative by collecting donations for a local nonprofit or a charity aligned with your industry.
Because not all attendees may be able to participate, it is important to make your fun run optional or offer an alternative activity for those who need or want it.
Wellness in Action
The physical wellbeing and mental wellness of attendees should be a consideration throughout the event planning process. If you’re looking for more ideas to incorporate into your next event or are ready to start planning, contact us today. M&IW’s team of industry experts can help incorporate wellness into your program no matter the event type or size.