How to Prevent the Afternoon Slump at Meetings

afternoon slump sleeping on desk coffee falling asleep hilton meeting planner eventprofs|
A new survey offers suggestions for defeating the dreaded afternoon slump at meetings. One in three meeting attendees admit they fall asleep or feel drowsy during a conference. The results of the new Hilton Worldwide study suggest planners may still rest on their laurels too much when it comes to keeping attendees engaged. The particular danger spot is between 2 and 4 p.m.—not coincidentally after mornings filled with meetings and a well-earned lunch. Maybe the brownies-and-coffee snack isn’t as effective as it used to be (if it ever was at all). For its part, Hilton isn’t only reporting the bad news. It’s offering solutions. “Our role is to make the meeting planner look like a star,” says Toni Zoblotsky, Hilton’s director of B2B marketing. In that vein, Hilton announced in September it is expanding its Meet With a Purpose campaign. More than 40 of the brand’s hotels are offering new menus with eating and exercise options specifically geared toward keeping attendees awake. Planners can either partner with participating Hiltons or borrow some of the following ideas to snuff out daytime sleep.

Take a break.

Zoblotsky says meditative moments, like the 10-minute pause Hilton is sponsoring at IMEX in Las Vegas in October, can rejuvenate weary eyes and spirits. “You just stop and take a breath,” she says.

Take a hike.

If attendees can stretch their legs, or, better yet, get a breath of fresh air (gasp), they might just stay better tuned in during afternoon sessions.

Play with your food.

Perhaps the biggest hit of late at Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., has been a cut-and-create salad bar. Attendees get a taste of experiential meetings by grabbing a pair of scissors and slicing up greens and other produce. Servers then provide a protein of choice to make it a hearty, but not overwhelming, meal. “We wanted to instill a quality-over-quantity mindset with meeting and event professionals,” says Capital Hilton Executive Chef Philip Thompson. Thompson adds he has taken to adding lentils and farro to provide unusual salad options.

Practice makes parfait.

Attendees can’t be perfect, but they can have a parfait with hazelnuts to get their day off on the right foot. Zoblotsky raves about one such early morning offering—which Hilton pairs with a 6 a.m. yoga session, like the one she tried at the new Hilton Cleveland. A parfait buffet also looks better than silver trays with whatever is being called eggs during general session.