The ancient Greeks did it. So did the ancient and not-so-ancient Romans, Japanese, and Chinese. Heck, even some of the founding fathers of the United States did it too. But despite its illustrious past, the idea of taking the waters has never really caught on in the United States, until now. Hot springs could be on the verge of a major wellness moment.
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
If you have been noticing more spas offering treatments that incorporate Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, or gongs, you aren’t alone. Sound therapies are starting to make waves in the spa industry.
WHAT’S IN A SOUND?
WHERE SOUND AND TRAVEL OVERLAP
|Vasudhara at Miraval Arizona|
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
When blogging tools became available on the Internet in the 1990s, everybody “became” a writer. When smart phones with cameras became ubiquitous during the first decade of this century, everybody “became” a photographer. As we know from the subsequent explosion of bad blogs and blurred images, just because technology exists doesn’t mean everyone has the skill set to employ it effectively.
Next in our tale, we zoom to 2020, the year of Zoom and GoToMeetings and other online conference platforms. Today, everybody is “becoming” a presenter. But despite how easy Anderson Cooper may make it seem, being an anchor and an interviewer is no easy feat. The ability to conduct a discussion among a group of panelists and to ask key follow-up questions, all the while keeping the program engaging, is a skill that needs to be honed.
Having worked in the television industry for many years, first as a producer for CNN, next as a contributor to various TV news and chat shows, and now as a media trainer as well, I have discovered many of the keys to on-air success. The majority of these translate directly to the digital world, with a few technical tweaks.
Now, I am not here to talk to you about lighting and camera placement and the best webcasting equipment. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials on those topics. Instead, this post provides direction on how to become a better digital moderator.
A digital moderator must serve as host, interviewer and producer. Bet you didn’t consider the “producer” hat. But the fact is, any good show starts with a producer, someone who develops the outline and the flow, and then selects the elements that will create an entertaining and informative program. Even if someone else is doing some of this work behind the scenes, as the moderator, you should at the very least take on the pre-production role of pre-interviewing all panelists. Without taking this step, your session could easily lose focus and flow, or become repetitive..or all of the above.
Preferably, the pre-interview should be done via video. Speaking with each panelist in advance serves several purposes.
You can learn about the type of information each panelist can uniquely provide, which will enable you to develop relevant questions and steer the conversation.
You can ensure that each panelist focuses on a different subject or angle, thereby avoiding redundancy.
You can get clued into each panelist’s presentational quirks. More on that in a minute.
Establishing a pre-meeting connection will give even the edgiest panelist a higher comfort level.
Now, about those quirks. The pre-interview is the time when you learn whether speakers are bores, or if they fancy themselves as witty intellectuals. Knowing these tendencies in advance will help you create a game plan to avoid ennui, ill-advised humor or tedious lectures.
It’s all in the questioning. For the long-winded panelist, it’s best to ask questions that encourage succinct answers. For example, “Diane, can you briefly sum up, in about two minutes, how technology can enable better eco-tourism practices?” Similarly, if the panelist tends to spit out technical jargon, the moderator might ask, “Joe, for those of us who are not industry experts, could you explain in simple terms how that works?” In either case, if the panelist reverts to bad habits, feel free to gently interrupt to ask for clarification or brevity.
A good moderator also makes sure that each panelist gets his or her proper face time. Balance your speakers. Don’t allow one to dominate. As the anchor, you need to be aware of who is hogging the spotlight, who’s reluctant to speak and who’s somewhere in the middle. You might have to gently cut off the palaverous ponderings of Spotlight Suzy, while drawing out the deep thoughts of Shy Simon. Another way to balance is by doing rapid-fire response rounds among all the panelists, or asking for feedback about what another person said.
As an anchor and as a moderator, you have to be able to multi-task. You have to stay aware of the time, and ensure time is available for audience questions and answers. If questions are submitted on a side panel, you, as the moderator, need to keep an eye on what’s coming in the whole time, while continuing to pay attention to what your speakers are saying.
Listening, in fact, is the most critical skill any moderator can have. Certainly, it’s important to have a prepared outline of questions. But a good moderator will toss those out on the fly should the conversation warrant. Instead of sticking to your list of questions, LISTEN to what speakers are saying and follow up on important points they are making, even if it steers the discussion a bit off-course. That said, don’t let too many digressions take you completely off topic. As the conductor of the session, you do need to make sure the conversation ultimately stays on track.
In the next post, more on improving your presentation skills.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Five Wellness Experiences to Enjoy in Nature
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to wake people up to the wonders of Mother Nature, whether it’s in the form of countryside, coastline or mountains. And that’s not by chance. The science behind the benefits of nature is proven, to the point where both doctors and wellness practitioners are increasingly prescribing outdoor activities that reap medicinal benefits, without the side effects. This “discovery” of the healing power of nature has pushed wellness vacations in nature to the top of health-conscious travelers’ lists. Here are five ways up your wellness quotient naturally, on your next trip.
Find Open Sky
Friday, August 14, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has given everyone a new perspective on the importance of integrating nature into our everyday lives. Pre-pandemic, we were busy hurtling from home to job, usually in cars or crowded public transportation, often in busy urban areas, with little time built in to experience the great outdoors.
During the past few months, nature has provided a bit of relief to millions of people in search of physical and mental health. Breathing in fresh air, enjoying the aromas of nature, feeling a relaxing breeze, hearing birds singing and looking up at the stars have served as natural tonics for anxiety and cabin fever. Indeed, the lockdown has taught us that people need landscapes. In this digital age, the value of the IRL natural world is finally back where it should be--front and center.
This renewed appreciation of nature as a contributor to health and wellness will be one of the long-lasting outcomes of this era. Going forward, that is likely to translate into a greater desire for residential neighborhoods and public spaces that emphasize wellness components.
The way urban and community planners think about space will change following the pandemic, according to Pablo S. Massari, an associate principal at EDSA, a Florida-based landscape architecture firm. Parks and outdoor environments will be prioritized and re-imagined. “In Victorian times,” he said, “people noticed cities getting unhealthier, so they developed parks with canopies and shade. In recent decades, those natural features have been crowded out by tennis courts and playgrounds and skating parks. (But today), most outdoor spaces today are overly programmed for recreation and sports, with very little space for canopy and trails.” Now is the time to change that, he said, by bringing back canopy and greenery, both in parks and in residential areas.
|Courtesy: Congress for the New Urbanism|
In terms of community planning then, as new neighborhoods are designed, green space is key. A priority should be put on the ability to traverse the neighborhood by foot or bike. Developing neighborhood greenways, low-traffic streets where bicyclists and walkers get priority over motorists, or dedicated trails for non-motorized vehicles can help do the trick. Communal gardens and outdoor “open play” areas are other features that can add green elements and opportunities for human connection, both of which are key to wellness.
The 19th Hole
When we discuss wellness, we are talking about it holistically. It is not solely human health that we seek to improve, but also the environment at large. That is why, when discussing wellness communities, we should reconsider the idea of homes built around a golf course. Golf courses are known water guzzlers, and the use of fertilizer and pesticides to maintain their manicured lawns are not good for the environment. Furthermore, golf courses located near protected or sensitive areas can have negative impacts on local flora and fauna.
According to EDSA’s Massari, particularly in areas where water is scarce, extra land should be used for less impactful forms of recreation, or for agriculture, both of which serve to benefit nature and people.
Monday, August 10, 2020
The wellness zeitgeist has been permeating our culture during the past decade. People run around the world in search of wellness practices. At home, they spend spend thousands of dollars a year on SoulCycle and smoothies. Yet, what has been largely overlooked as the movement has exploded is the wellness of one's physical home and the neighborhood that surrounds it.
As most of us have been spending 24/7 inside for the last few months, the realization that home is where the health is has become a reality. Suddenly, there is an understanding that the home environment itself should be healthy and healing, from the quality of the air to the availability of sunlight to the materials used in construction. And, as we take short jaunts around our neighborhoods, we are increasingly appreciating the lure of outdoor features like tree canopy, green spaces, water and walking trails.
|A running trail in Emilia-Romagna's Wellness Valley|
It's not surprising, then, that many experts predict that this pandemic will change the way people choose to live. Even before COVID, there were studies indicating that lifestyle and environmental factors account for nearly 85 percent of one's health outcomes. It's not a coincidence that during the lockdown, there’s been almost a primordial urge to return to arcadia, in the form of countryside, coastline or mountains. At the same time, though, in isolation, people are realizing the importance of IRL connection and community.
That is why wellness real estate is set to experience its moment. The wellness real estate sector was already in a nascent state pre-COVID. But post-pandemic, the trend toward buying healthy homes and real estate in wellness communities will grow as more people take into consideration how their living environments support their physical, mental and emotional state of being.
The Global Wellness Institute has been watching this trend develop over the past decade. According to Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities, wellness real estate was a $134 billion worldwide industry in 2017, and, at the time of the report, was expected to grow to $180 billion in 2022. Given that pandemic, expect that number to top $200 billion.
There are several important features of the communities that are actually walking the wellness walk. They include the use of natural and no-VOC materials in construction; the incorporation of biophilic elements in design, and an abundance of unprogrammed outdoor spaces (that means no golf courses and concrete-covered playground areas). A focus on community-building and social connection is another vital element of a true wellness neighborhood, one that is often overlooked by companies that are trying to glom on to the trend without really understanding the importance and the nuances of a holistic approach. This could result, for example, in larger front porches, smaller front yards and more communal spaces.
Over a series of blog posts, I will be exploring the key ingredients that every wellness community worth its salt must sport. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
|A hotel lobby with several biophilic design features|
WESTIN LOOKS TO NATURE
LUSH LIVING WALLS MEAN GREEN — IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
|A Green Wall cascades behind the lobby bar at The Thompson, Chicago|