Do You Create Conference Experiences That Lead To Ahas?

Just Full Of Ideas

“If I can get at least one takeaway from this conference, then I’m happy,” said attendee X.

Seriously? You are willing to spend $1,500 – $2,000 (registration, travel, lodging and expenses) for one conference takeaway? Are you kidding?

Why have we lowered our conference expectations so much? Is it because we’ve attended too many boring, unfocused, all-you-can-eat-watered-down-smorgasbord conference experiences? Is it because conference education is equivalent to eating a bag of pork rinds? Is status-quo really satisfying?

Go Gamma Go!

Most conference attendees are looking for is that aha learning moment. We want our brain light bulbs to turn on as we focus on solving our challenges.

We’ve all had those “aha” moments when the learning connects and finally makes sense. When you have an “aha” moment, your brain is experiencing a high Gamma activity. Gamma brain waves are the fastest documented brain wave frequency which oscillates between 40 Hz to 70 Hz. They start in the Thallamus and moves from the back to the front of the brain and back again 40 times every second. This rapid wave makes us feel in the moment and invincible. They help the entire brain and are an indicator of peak mental and physical performance. Ultimately, Gamma brain waves help bind, link and process new sensory information to our own experiences and past knowledge.

Gamma brain waves have also been associated with:

  • high levels of intelligence
  • showing compassion
  • having strong self control
  • feelings of happiness

Gamma activity is also linked to great memory and an increased perception of reality. When Gamma brain waves are activated at your conference, it indicates that learning has occurred and the participant now has some new insights.

Ahas, Gamma Brain Waves And Creativity

Neuroscience studies on creativity reveal what happens right before that “Aha” moment.

Research shows that Gamma brain waves spike 300 milliseconds before an answer to a problem appears in our brains. Your Gamma brain waves indicate that neurons are connecting as the new association emerges. Immediately after the Gamma activity, the new idea enters our brains.

Here’s the cool thing. You as a conference organizer can create experiences that mobilize Gamma brain waves and learning. Here are three steps that lead to creativity, innovation and Gamma brain waves.

1. Ask your audience to concentrate intently on the goal or problem.

They should define and frame their problem. Then ask as many questions about that problem as possible.

2. Immerse the audience in ideas, data and information about the problem.

Here’s the only time presenters are allowed to do an information dump!

3. Then have the audience relax and let it go.

That’s right, they need to stop thinking about the problem and do something else. Daydreaming, drifting, zoning and relaxing lead our brains to being more open and receptive to new ideas.

Research shows that trying to force insight actually stifles creativity. Forced continual thinking leads to tense bodies and terse emotions which then blocks fresh ideas.

The challenge for most people is having the self-awareness and mastery to know when to let go. It seems counter-intuitive to let go but the research proves that the solutions won’t come until we let it all go.

We have to remember, creative ideas are like a fragile spring bud. They must be nurtured in order to bloom.

Sources: Brain Waves Blog, Mindvalley, Wikipedia, Daniel Goleman’s The Brain And Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, Daniel Siegel, The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Wellbeing.

What are some things conference organizers can do to foster aha learning moments? What types of activities can conference organizers include in the schedule that will help an audience let go and relax?

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  1. Kevin Priger says:

    I just read this article about creativity and it has a few suggestions worth trying

    Found it interesting that those of us who hop around to various tasks may, unconsciously, just be helping our creative juices. We’re not really fighting an attention-deficits as we have been told!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for extending the conversation about creativity. Great article worth reading and considering.

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