“Brownie moments” – how to create happiness at events

Recently, I was hosting an event where there were some really specialized talks happening.

The audience had been patient and attentive but you could see from their faces and the atmosphere of the room that they were expending a lot of energy into focusing and concentrating. After some time, it would lead to a crack in their attention.

The speaker was about to wrap up when something interesting caught my eye. A waiter was bringing in a big tray filled with freshly baked brownies. So fresh that even from the stage I could see the steam rising from them.

And immediately, I knew what I had to do.

As the floor was opened up for the Q&A part, I broke the prevailing atmosphere of the room by walking to the stage with the brownie tray in hand, telling the audience that they had to try the amazing brownies even as we delved into the discussion part. But before that they had to get up and stretch their legs.

Smiles broke across the room and slowly people started turning up for the brownies. A helpful audience member relieved me off my burden by taking the tray from my hand and carried it to the other attendees.

People relaxed and started paying attention while enjoying the brownies and a light, quick round of chatter.

I wondered what could be my takeaway from that small but impactful moment.


Recently when I was co-hosting the BEA event, one of my fellow emcees, Otto, did something cool at his session. He pulled the coffee dispenser right next to the audience’s seats and he made the seating arrangement in the form of a semi-circle.

Simple, ingenious!

The proximity of the coffee would implicitly tell the audience that it was okay to get a cuppa while listening and interacting.

The seating arrangement also broke the sense of higher-lower/authority-submissive dynamic that certain settings can create simply without any words.

Me and Otto at the BEA World Festival, 2022
Me and Otto at the BEA World Festival, 2022

Happiness is often not considered when organising events.

A study conducted regarding sports events by two professors at Gothenburg University found that happiness (subjective well being) was something that was often left out from consumer behaviour research.

Of course at events, participants are the consumers.

Their paper, published in 2019, said something interesting right at its start— Assuming that happiness is of “extreme importance to the respondent and that achieving happiness is one of the ultimate goals of life, social research ought to focus on finding factors that influence (happiness)…and make people happy or unhappy.”

Jump out of research and into everyday life, into our professional lives. Isn’t a sense of satisfaction and happiness something each of us individually searches for?

Events sometimes cater to the “fun” part by organising specific activities that would increase the experience of pleasure for participants.

This is done by having a particular format of talk or some games and prizes, something that excites and grabs the attention of the participants and makes them feel involved.

But what about the other kind of happiness?

Satisfaction and contentment come from flow instead of a pre-organized, specific activity.

Think of pleasure and happiness as eating a really great meal vs. living in a good space. Happiness is more prolonged.


Events cannot be absolutely free flowing.

There needs to be some structure and yes, someone has to make sure that the structure doesn’t fall apart.

So alongside structure, we need to start accounting for a sense of relaxation into the event atmosphere.

Cue different seating arrangements that might make the people feel more included and break hierarchy (imagine a circular seating pattern instead of dais and chairs).

Or form a loose seating shape where the food or snacks are close enough to not intimidate people into never leaving their seats to enjoy a cup.

Etiquette is delicate no matter which event we are at. But events can be counted on to bring more satisfaction and happiness if we start trusting that a balance can be attained between organizers and event participants.

That they truly do know not to go overboard on a plate of brownies or finish up a whole pot of coffee while the speakers speak on 🙂

(Some of the information shared here were found in this paper and this article)


Now I will write something about myself. I like to be with people – but I don’t like it when the atmosphere is tense. That’s why I’ve learned to shorten the distance and make it bearable. Sometimes it’s even friendly. So much so that I host the largest conferences and panel discussions in Poland, and increasingly abroad.

My specialities are technology, environment and business. I am also a legal advisor (but that’s a longer story for another time). I have created dozens of radio and TV programmes, including a talk-show in English. I studied at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. And I love the United States. 

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