Plan Downtime

Uncategorized Jul 29, 2020

Over the course of my career, I have planned thousands of events. Everything from book launches to entrepreneurial conferences, strategic board meetings and small inspirational retreats designed to help attendees live their best life. Regardless of the event and how absolutely amazing it was, and no matter if the event was virtual or in-person, there is always one piece of post-event feedback that always comes up from hosts and attendees alike:

“I wish there had been more downtime.”

One of the pitfalls that event hosts often fall into is planning out every single minute of an event. Whether it is the desire to provide as much value as possible in a short period of time, having more content to cover than time in the schedule, or sessions running longer than planned, it’s easy for every moment at an event to be scheduled out and filled with something.

The thing is, downtime can be incredibly valuable, and it’s worth building it in (even more than you think you need!) to your event. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Time to recharge: Events take a lot of energy, both for you as the host and for your attendees. A little bit of downtime in your schedule gives everyone a chance to recharge in whatever way they need. Introverts might need a few minutes of quiet time. You might want a bit of extra rest. Some guests might want a break in the spa or a walk in the fresh air. Time to recharge allows for more focus and engagement from everyone when you do come together again.
  • Time to process: If the goal of your event is learning and transformation, allowing for some downtime gives your attendees time to process what they are learning, identify how it will apply to and incorporate into their own lives, and take action steps to integrate that learning. Transformation also takes time to reflect and process information so that it can take new shape within us, so a bit of extra down time gives space for transformation to evolve.
  • Time to connect: Relationships and connection are one of the most important facets of events, and yet if our schedules are booked fully during the event experience there is less time for spontaneous conversation and deep connection. Some of my favorite moments at events I’ve attended are the ones when I’ve skipped out on a scheduled session to get coffee or a glass of wine with another attendee, and inspired conversation and longstanding friendships have resulted.

And just because it's downtime doesn't mean that you can't suggest some structure - provide your attendees with a list of local hotspots or have some timeslots reserved at the hotel spa, reserve a meeting room or two at your venue through that time and have a coffee bar set up, so that people have a place to hang out and connect.  The key is that you're not actively managing any programming, and that your attendees are able to choose what they want to do without feeling like they're missing out. This allows for spontaneity, synchronicity, and delightful surprises that come from being able to determine what we need most in that moment and from that experience.

In the theme of building in downtime, I want to let you know that I'll be taking a "summer break" from my email and social media for the month of August.  This will allow me to recharge, process, and connect with myself and my business before heading into the fall, and to come back reenergized to share and serve in even more meaningful and impactful ways.

But, of course, I would still love to hear from all of you even if I'm not sending out event tip e-mails regularly.  How do you like to slow down?  What's your favorite event downtime story?  Send me an e-mail and let me know!

Have a beautiful and blessed August!

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