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Why Planners Should Go Out and Play

7 August 2012 One Comment

By: David McMillin

If you’re like the majority of American adults, you’ve been struggling to turn on your imagination. In a new study from

JWTIntellience that examines the importance of playing, 51 percent of respondents indicated that they find it difficult to be creative and playful in their everyday lives.

Planners Play

Playing? Like going to the playground and getting on the swings?

Perhaps. The definition of “play” is subjective. Some of us may consider a smartphone battle of Words with Friends playtime. Others might head outside for sports. Some may simply want to disconnect and daydream. Regardless, the benefits of playing are the same across all audiences: a chance to rediscover a sense of fun.

The study shows that adults want that chance, too. Ninety percent of respondents said that play should be part of their adult lives.

Planning with a Playful Perspective

So what does playing mean for the planning process? A lot, actually. While attendees value expert perspectives and educational offerings, their brains need breaks, too. In the PCMA Education Foundation-commissioned study on millennials, the research team examined what “fun” means to an emerging attendee audience.

The results showed that even education can be playful. Ninety-three percent of respondents indicated that they want education with entertainment. They aren’t looking for learning in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re searching for ways to get smarter without getting bored.

“Attendees of all age brackets have so many pressures,” Kelly Peacy, SVP, Education and Meetings at PCMA says. “Planners can help ease those pressures by creating an environment that breaks the boundaries of today’s productivity-focused world.”

Playing Can Still Be Productive

Playing may sound like all fun and games, but it can also be a big driver for organizational accomplishments. At Google, play time has been instrumental in advancing the company. The search engine giant gives its engineers 20% of their time to work on projects unrelated to their job descriptions. That flexibility to have fun helped build one of the company’s most popular offerings: Gmail.Teaching Yourself to PlayWhile giving your attendees a chance to have fun is an essential piece of your meeting’s success, don’t forget that playing is an integral part of someone else’s life: yours.

“In the results-driven world of meetings and events, it can be challenging to remember that even planners have to take a break from the always-on mentality,” Peacy says. “You need to embrace the chance to let your imagination loose.”

Here are three simple ways to help steer you down a path toward more playing.

1) Schedule a break from the screen. While answering those pressing emails is important, remember that you can’t play if you’re constantly checking for updates on your phone and your computer.

2) Get out of the office. A recent study from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Conagra Foods shows that 62 percent of workers usually eat lunch at their desks. Take advantage of time to recharge and step away from your workload during the week.

3) Connect with your colleagues on another level.
 Rather than make every conversation about that next meeting on the calendar, connect with your coworkers about topics unrelated to work.

What does playing mean to you? Has it contributed to your success as a planner?

Access the complete PCMA Education Foundation research
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One Comment »

  • John Nawn said:

    taking a screen break, eating lunch out, and talking about something other than work? really? is that the best you can do?

    for those interested in incorporating more play at work (or during meetings), check out john chen’s 50 digital team-building games or izzy gesell’s improv workshops or any one of the 312 games listed on thaigi’s website. google them all.

    there are literally tons of other resources out there.

    despite rumors to the contrary, adults like to play as much as kids. and just like kids, adult play is enhanced by structure, guidelines, and the right tools. play plays a role in the creative process as well and we all benefit from being more creative in planning meetings and events.

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