Ten Ways to Create ‘Glimmers’ at Events

Ten Ways to Create ‘Glimmers’ at Events

How to spark feelings of joy, peace, and belonging for attendees.
“Trigger” has become a common word in our cultural lexicon, but few people talk about the opposite of triggers: glimmers.

Coined by Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in complex trauma, in her 2018 book, "The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy," "glimmers" refers to small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm. Dana doesn’t mean “big, expansive experiences of joy or safety or connection [but] micro-moments that begin to shape our system in very gentle ways.” A glimmer is a simple cue—whether internal or external—that brings one to a sense of joy or safety. Glimmers spark feelings of joy, ease, relaxation, connection, and a general sense that everything is okay—even just for a moment. Some examples might be:

  • Enjoying a skyline view at night
  • Admiring a bloom in a garden
  • Drinking that first sip of morning coffee
  • Seeing a rainbow
  • Hearing a baby giggle
  • Feeling the warmth of sunshine
You feel something happen inside; there's an energy that happens around a glimmer, and your brain then marks it as well.  — Deb Dana

Noticing glimmers has a profound impact on just about everyone. Our brains naturally seek out “the bad” as a defense mechanism. Still, once we hone the skill of recognizing small, positive moments, we decrease emotional distress and create psychological safety. 

Psychological safety is a priority for many companies today. From workplace culture to event experiences, leading brands actively seek ways to make people feel like they belong.

Creating Glimmers at B2B Events and Conferences

As event professionals, we can create glimmers throughout the brand experience. 

The goal is to spark those tiny moments of awe, joy, and wonder to leave a positive and lasting impression. Enriching our events with glimmers ensures our attendees feel psychologically safe and empowered to engage, leaving positive memories of the experiences and brand.  

Let’s explore ten ways to spark glimmers for attendees.

1. Surprise and Delight Entertainment

Captivate attendees with unexpected performances designed to lift spirits, evoke laughter, and warm hearts. Comedians, storytellers, musical performers, magicians, and acrobats have the power to bring glimmers to attendees with the ultimate wow factor.

Acrobatic Performer at EMS Ex Awards Gala | Credit: Event Marketer

2. Light Displays

Tell a story in lights to evoke the awe and wonder of childhood. Cutting-edge drone light shows paint the night sky with vibrant hues, offering a quieter, more eco-friendly alternative to fireworks. 

Drone Show at Windsor Castle | Credit: Leon Neal, Pool Photo via AP

3. Aromatherapy Stations

Remember when you passed someone wearing your mother’s perfume or walked into a hotel with a signature scent. These olfactory sensations transport us to a specific moment, often associated with positive memories. Now, imagine that same sensation for attendees. Aromatherapy stations provide attendees with a sensory memory that reminds them of their experience at an event. These scent services often feature essential oils and other wellness ingredients that trigger pleasant feelings and relaxation.

Credit: The Blossom Bar/Dori Bell

4. Cozy Zones and Quiet Rooms

A leading trend in B2B events, comfortable lounge areas, and quiet/meditation rooms support those with mental health needs or neurodivergence or those who want a moment of solace from the hustle and bustle of a conference. These spaces often feature soft seating, sensory lighting, fidget toys, and live streams.

Acoustic Office Pods | Credit: Urban Office

5. Nostalgia Experiences

Tapping into the recent nostalgia trend, create areas with nostalgic items, memorabilia, or displays that evoke memories from the past, encouraging attendees to reminisce and find joy in the recollection. These booths may include vintage arcade games, old-fashioned soda fountains, or a photo wall with event images throughout the years.

6. Culinary Delights

Offer a glimmer through unexpected, delightful, or nostalgic culinary experiences, such as cotton candy, freshly baked cookies, gourmet ‘Pop Tarts,’ or something even adventurous like molecular gastronomy or group-friendly, culturally rich food halls.

World-Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich, St. Lawrence Market | Credit: Destination Toronto

7. Nature Calls

Include moments for attendees to connect with nature through indoor gardens, plant-filled spaces, or even a tranquil outdoor area. Consider group hiking or other activities that spark glimmers by connecting attendees to nature.

Unlikely Hikers, Sauvie Island, Oregon | Credit: Jenny Bruso

8. Animal Therapy

Bring in therapy animals to spark glimmers for attendees. These furry companions, from conventional dogs and cats to more unique options like goats, cows, or rabbits, infuse joy and comfort into an event. Organizations like OC Animal Allies facilitate unique and unforgettable experiences through positive interactions with animals.

PAWS Therapy Dogs Special Events Program | Credit: OC Animal Allies

9. DIY or Craft Stations

Set up stations where attendees engage in simple DIY activities and crafts, such as friendship bracelets, watercolors, and keychains. These provide a therapeutic experience and may spark positive memories from childhood. 

TEDActive “Sovereign Nation of You” Station | Credit: BizBash, Kris Krüg 

10. Personalized Touches

Give attendees an extra special moment by personalizing something unexpected. This could include welcome signage at the airport or venue or a customized room-drop item in their room upon arrival. 

“Parallel Reality” Technology | Credit: Delta Air Lines

Big Idea

Similar to how certain sights, sounds, scents, and actions may trigger attendees or evoke feelings of stress, they also have the potential to spark glimmers. In the modern event landscape, glimmers are powerful tools for cultivating joy, peace, and psychological safety for attendees. 

As event leaders, our opportunity lies in designing experiences that cultivate positive, lasting impressions. By deliberately integrating glimmer opportunities into our events, we enrich the attendee experience and empower individuals to engage more meaningfully. 

Ready to spark glimmers for your attendees? Let’s move.

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