Laughter - What happens in our brain when we laugh? Laughter releases endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter produced by the pituitary gland and that has an opioid effect on our organism. We are not wrong when we try to make someone laugh if we know they are going through a tough time, we are actually reducing their physical perception of pain! A different neurotransmitter that is also released when we laugh genuinely is dopamine, a substance that plays a crucial role in our capacity to feel any emotion that relates to wellness and motivation. And the advantages don’t end there; laughter also reduces our stress levels, since it has a diminishing effect on our cortisol levels. Laughter is, in essence, a smart tool that allows us to reduce our audience’s pain and make them feel more motivated and less stressed. Incorporating playful and humorous elements into our events could be the key to a more receptive and understanding audience.
Music - Why do we prefer dancing in a group rather than by ourselves? It seems that music has been part of our world for over 6.000 years and the number of theories that attempt to explain the evolutionary effect of music keeps increasing. When tools like fMRI appeared, we discovered that when we listen to music, the areas that are active in our brain are those commonly related to movement control and execution. This gave birth to the theory that music appeared as a tool to motivate groups to move together. Lo and behold, we have found out that when we move in a collective way we actually behave in a more altruistic manner and feel closer to each other! Thus, music has the potential to be a tool that unites our audience and strengthens the bonds that form between members of a group during teambuilding activities. In addition, listening to music also increases our dopamine levels, which, besides from being an essential substance to feel motivated, it is one of the main promoters of pleasure in our brain, as powerful as food or sex.
Sleep - Sleeping is essential from an evolutionary perspective. It doesn’t make sense, right? An animal spends a third of the day sleeping, exposed to predators and this is nature’s whim? It sounds slightly contradicting but, while we are awake, our neurons are continuously creating new connections between them based on the experiences that we live. For instance, if one day we cut ourselves while cutting an onion we will create a new association of concepts between the knife and the onion that will prevent us from getting hurt in the future. What happens when we are asleep is that from the thousands of neural connections formed throughout the day, we select the ones that will help us survive longer in order to strengthen them while we eliminate the insignificant ones. If we pretend to educate our audience during a five-day long congress and we don´t leave some time for them to rest and sleep, they won’t be able to strengthen the neural connections established during the formative sessions and the message that we wanted to send will be lost from their memory. Additionally, sleep has big role in cortisol production, the stress hormone. When everything works the way it should, our cortisol levels increase in the morning, helping us to start the day with energy, and decrease after a few hours. If we disrupt our system by being sleep deprived, we deregulate our cortisol production at the same time, causing our energy levels to go up and down regardless of the stimulation we receive from the environment and resulting in incoherent irritability and lack of concentration.
Keeping in mind these consequences, we should really think deep about the importance of appropriate rest during the events we organize. Not only for our audience, but also for the agency employees and any other collaborators. If we want the audience to go with our event’s flow, it is essential that we allow enough time for all of us to sleep and that we do our best to help our brain strengthen the neural connections that guarantee a successful communication.
Food - Have you ever organized an event where your audience couldn’t even stand up after a lunch break? Have you ever witnessed how people fall asleep while they seem to be checking their phones? Tiredness in events is a real threat, especially after lunch. Almost two decades ago we found out that the neurons located in our hypothalamus are particularly vulnerable to our glucose levels. These neurons produce orexin, a hormone that plays a key role in keeping as awake and alert. Just one bite of a product high on glucose and the activity of these neurons will be decreased to a point that takes us to a light sleep. In addition, leptin (a hormone that is generated during digestion and makes us feel satiated when we have eaten enough food) also has a big effect on our wakefulness. It seems pretty straightforward; feeling too satiated makes us fall asleep. This doesn’t mean we need to fast during an event, we just need to ration our food intake, choose the types of food that are low on glucose and organise activities that help increase our energy levels in those moments when our body feels really tempted to lie down for a bit.