Animals. They have the ability to calm us, connect us and disarm us with their antics. All things that are good for a meeting. So why aren’t animals regularly included?

Whether it’s because the meeting planner didn’t think about it or because the idea just seemed too silly, maybe it’s time to revisit that idea, especially if you are trying to engage introverts. While they may become overwhelmed with hundreds of people at a conference, introverts can easily connect with the handful of people that have also fallen in love with a particular animal.

So if you are trying to engage those introverts in your meeting or just trying to create a relaxing experience for everyone, try these tactics to include animals at your next meeting:

The Puppy Room

Many of us have heard of puppy rooms on college campuses to ease the anxieties of finals. Why not try it to ease the anxieties that a meeting might bring up?

One of the best ways to do this is to contact the local animal shelter and ask them if they can bring dogs to your conference. Depending on the size of the shelter and temperament of dogs, they may advise having a rotation of dogs or just doing it for a short period of time. But by using a shelter, you’re not only giving your attendees a chance to have a fun experience, but also a chance to meet a new member of their family. And attendees will never forget your conference if they meet their perfect dog there.

Penguin Happy Hour

What would you do if a penguin was marching around the room during happy hour? Would you smile? Perhaps even giggle? And would you turn to the stranger next you to share your amazement?

That is why an event at Newport Aquarium is great. Not only are you surrounded by the creatures in water, but you can interact with some of them, including the penguins. Those interactions can create an opening for a connection with other attendees. Laughing together over the antics of a penguin can easily lead to finding out more about each other’s business which can lead to doing business together. All because a little penguin made them giggle. 

Pet-Friendly Conference

It’s no secret that pet-friendly travel has become huge. People just don’t want to leave their pets at home and many see their pets as a member of the family. Facilities, hotels and venue that welcomes all companions leaves them feeling a bit more relaxed and open. So why not create an event at your conference that accounts for that?

You don’t have to go crazy and allow animals at every event, as that could be inappropriate. But perhaps you allow for a daily dog date. It could be an excellent opportunity to allow your attendees and their furry friends to get outside and stretch their legs. In Cincinnati, we have several convenient dog parks that can be used for this purpose, including Washington Park. Washington Park even offers unique event deck and pavillion which could easily tie into the dog park space.

This could also be another opportunity for you to partner with a dog shelter to let those that either don’t have a dog or left their little guy at home have someone to play with. And the dog shelter gets the added bonus of tiring their dogs out while they are socialized. 

How have you included animals at your event?