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A new report shows tapping into a delegate’s natural human rhythms can aid productivity, concentration and retention.

The Meeting Minds report by Dr Lawrence Smith, senior lecturer at the Institue of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, applies psychological theory regarding human rhythms, sleep and work scheduling to the meetings industry.

Smith identifies two broad types of conference delegates:

Early Eager Employees – those who wake early and are at their most effective early in the day, but find late afternoon sessions challenging

PM Professionals – those who might become more alert by mid-morning, with workshops working much better for them in the afternoon and networking in the evening no problem

Additional key findings included:

Best Time – 11am is the best time to deliver a message if you are unable to offer a choice of times that suit both types of delegates, with 10am the best time to start the conference

Worst time – It is widely accepted by researchers that humans suffer a dip in alertness between 1pm and 5pm.

Get physical – Introduce physical activities into the schedule for the day, as they alert the mind. Consider having a walking discussion group mid morning and mid afternoon.

Day dream dangers – It has been shown people fall into cycles of day dreaming after sessions lasting 90 minutes or longer. To try and avoid this, keep sessions to a maximum of 90 minutes and then give people a break – preferably an active one – to try and avoid time being wasted with delegates minds wandering
Fresh air and rural settings can improve productivity at business events

Venue selection – unusual and exciting venues can help aid concentration and effectiveness, by providing stimulating activities to encourage active breaks

Source: Conference News Magazine, May 2008.

The report was commissioned by Yorkshire Tourist Board in a bid to further help organisers maximise the impact of their event.

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