The research by the 2014-15 AA Hotel Group of the Year – which involved monitoring and analysing the brainwaves of event organisers, speakers and delegates revealed that:
• On average, a delegate’s concentration started to drop after three and a half minutes of a presentation
• Delegates’ concentration levels were at their lowest on average 26 minutes before the lunch break
• Delegates who took notes during the event or tweeted about the seminar were likely to process information more fluently, and remain engaged for longer, than those who didn’t
• 75% of delegates studied switched off if they were already familiar with the content, regardless of the quality of the performance of the speaker
• Stress levels among conference organisers were at their highest on average 32 minutes before the event began
• Conference organisers studied showed high levels of brain activity related to a specific combination of calmness, alertness and strong problem-solving skills
• Speakers felt the most nerves on average two minutes before they started presenting
• An exciting speaker doesn’t always mean a successful speaker. We found that delegates maintained higher levels of concentration if they found the content relevant and informative regardless of the performance of the speaker
To get real-time feedback during a conference, organisers, speakers and delegates were fitted with the latest hi-tech EEG (electroencephalogram) headsets that used sensitive pads to monitor brainwave activity.
This captured the stresses and strains, the high points and low points, involved in organising, attending or speaking at a conference. Software enabled the brainwave activity to be viewed and analysed on laptops and tablets by QHotels’ researchers.
By analysing the variations in gamma, beta, alpha, theta and delta brainwaves – the different ‘pulses’ of electrical activity in the brain – the research team could identify the different emotions, thoughts and behaviours associated with those brainwave changes.
The findings – contained in QHotels’ The Brainwaves Report – have led to a number of recommendations from the award-winning venue operator including ensuring early access to conference facilities, a ‘Green Room’ for speakers, ‘surprise’ lunchtimes and encouragement of use of social media during events, as well as considerations for further exploration.
The study was conducted at conferences and training events at QHotels venues around the UK including Hellidon Lakes Golf and Spa Hotel, Oulton Hall, The Westerwood Hotel and Golf Resort and The Cheltenham Chase Hotel. The report was commissioned by the group to add a new dimension to its award-winning service for conference and events organisers to ensure that every event at any of its 27 venues will be as successful as possible.
Joanne Barratt, Group Operations Manager at QHotels, said: “Getting feedback from clients after an event is one thing, but being able to understand what they’re thinking and feeling during the event is something no-one has attempted before.
“Not only is this ground-breaking research in the UK, but the results of our research will help to inform our C&E offering, and enable us to provide a number of data-driven recommendations to conference organisers.”
The findings and recommendations are included in The Brainwaves Report, which is available for conference and event professionals to download from the QHotels website. Visit QHotels.co.uk/brainwaves to download the report.