I’ve attended more than my fair share of conferences over the years—as an attendee and keynote speaker—and I appreciate event planners very much. I couldn’t do their job and know how stressful it is. My teams have included event planners and I don’t know how they do what they do on time!

As I’m wrapping up a trip to Puerto Rico I was reminded of the importance of breaks and also being able to enjoy the area. The event organizers had enough breaks and flexibility built in to enjoy the views, catch up on email and hop on some calls.

And you can see some of the live coverage my content team member Lori Tenny filed here:

I see it so often unfortunately with conferences. Every minute is planned and booked. Attendees arrive and tweet or Instagram a picture of the beautiful surroundings and often warm weather.

“Nice view. See you again in three days on my way back to the airport.”

Stuck Inside During a Presentation View

It doesn’t have to be that way. I work and work a lot. And everywhere.

On planes. At beaches. At conferences. Sometimes in my office even. But I also love enjoying where I am and take advantage of the location-specific things.

This also hit me when I was attending the Adobe Summit in March 2018 in warm Las Vegas. It was still super cold back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, my home base, so the 60-degree weather was awesome.

But I had to be in air-conditioning the whole time?

Absolutely not. There were breaks and some of my activities as part of the Adobe partner program could be done remote-ish anyway. So I moved myself to the pool and enjoyed the sun and participated in a Twitter chat.

[Related Content: Adobe Summit 2018 Booth Trends and Event Design]

At one point, another attendee messaged me to see if we could meet. I replied that I’m at the pool, which prompted him to reply that he didn’t pack his swim trunks. Neither did I.

I was sitting there in the clothes I wore at the conference.

So the meeting happened poolside. And we weren’t even the only ones conducting a meeting there. Others had their laptops out, notepads in hand and obvious business talk was happening under the sun! And why not?

There’s no rule that you have to be inside, is there?

I understand why it’s important to have a schedule and to squeeze as much in as possible. But just like design needs some white space to let things breathe, events need breathing breaks as well! And they should be longer than the amount of time it takes me to run from one session to another!

I know it often helps to say x-many speakers, in x-many sessions over x-many days in marketing materials and to achieve that we often feel like there's a need for multiple tracks that are jam-packed.

But what if breathing breaks are the new differentiator? Marketing message: We offer you the most relevant topics that we found for the year AND offer you time to network, enjoy the destination and more.

Breathe, learn, enjoy! I’m not the resident marketing writer here, but you see what I’m getting at!

It doesn’t mean it has to be hours of free time, but a lot can be squeezed into a 90-minute break. For example, I’m writing this 700-word article on a 90-minute break at my event in Puerto Rico, and since I was near my hotel I will have 40 minutes to hop in the oceanview pool at the Serafina Hotel in San Juan. #multitasking

Oceanview Pool, Serafina Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Breaks when placed strategically can improve the learning, conference and destination experience. Whether that time is used to network, check email, hop on a conference call, catch up on other work, go to the pool or just think about what was just learned at a session, there’s value in having time like this.