July 10, 2008, Vol. 6 Issue 11
According to our friend and speaker Nancy Coey, “Disease Is Out, Health Is In.” That’s great news! All of our readers are not health systems or hospitals, but many of you are, so I wanted to share some information with you that Nancy wrote for a recent issue of The Ireland Report — a publication for health professionals on succeeding in women’s health. In the article, she reported on the changes she’s experienced in women’s health events in the last ten years. They’re not just her thoughts – she interviewed four hospital clients and two independently operated national women’s health programs – and the ideas coincided with many of my own observations.
Women’s Health Events:
“Disease Is Out, Health Is In.”
In Nancy Coey’s interview with women’s health event meeting planners, I resonated with their first observance:
1. “Know your community. What works in one place will not necessarily work somewhere else.”
I have found that to be so true. I trust my clients. I’ve worked with clients for Sunday programs, Monday programs, Tuesday nights, Saturday mornings, one-day Friday retreats and three-day weekend retreats. Some places have no problem attracting women for an all-day program; others have consistent success with a weeknight event. The fact is that what works in your market works in your market. That goes for the programming, as well. Some women are best served with a ladies night out where fun is the focus. Sometimes the social networking is as important as communicating a health message. Other times, a health focus like menopause or heart health is what brings them out. The key thing is that today it’s not about disease. It’s about prevention, vitality and living life fully. Listen and survey what the women in your community want and need. They will tell you.
That brings us to the second observation:
2. “A woman’s time is limited and precious. Either keep your programs short or pack them with value.”
Women want reliable information and a fun, positive experience that’s worth their investment away from family and work. In a nutshell, a short program needs to be just that, short and timely so women know they can get in and out. A day-long program must be well-rounded and move along smoothly and deftly so that time flies and they leave feeling it’s been a day well spent. At longer programs, they are interested in connecting with each other and problem-solving. One or more day retreats represent a true investment, both on the part of the health system and the women – both are committing their time and money. Many women find that after they finally do take time for themselves to attend a women’s program, they will make it an annual event, and they will entice their friends, sisters, etc. to join them in the succeeding years. They realize the benefits to both themselves and those around them.
3. “Address the whole woman. Health is about mind-body-spirit connection.”
I love this one. When I started The Speak Well Being Group. I was very attracted to mind-body-spirit speakers like Deb Kern, Karen Wolfe and Joan Borysenko. At the time, I thought these ideas about our heads, hearts and hamstrings being connected were already becoming mainstream. HAH! Ten years later, we’re just getting started. And who could have guessed that having fun, nurturing relationships, spirituality, and reducing stress would be the keys to overall health?
4. “Women’s programming is no longer about information only; it’s about an experience.”
Nancy Coey observed that when she began speaking at women’s health events ten years ago, the norm then was a two-hour program on a weekday evening centered around one specific health concern (menopause, for example, or breast cancer). Today, she says, the tone has moved from, “How do I manage this condition?” to “How to live a life of health, vitality, energy and zest. Disease is out: Health is in,” she said.
And there’s more — music, decorations, fabulous food (while healthy and tasty, of course), goodie bags, belly dancing demos, freebies, shopping – all of these things enhance the experience, and make it just that, an experience. Add a girlfriend or two, mix with a great speaker, and you have the ingredients for a huge success, possibly even a magical experience — after all, we’re talking about women connecting.
5. “What works . . . and what doesn’t”
What works: Humor and programs for women by women. Catchy titles. Humor. Camaraderie. Humor. Engagement. Emotional appeal. Humor. Freshness. Dancing, movement, like Nia and Tai Chi. Humor. Healthy food and healthy cooking. Lots of laughter and connecting.
What doesn’t work: Transfer of information only (women have access to tremendous amounts of information via the internet and media – think morning news shows). Fancy advertising campaigns, i.e. promises that don’t deliver (think skin creams).
This is pretty clear. We, as women, know what’s true intuitively and today’s women are savvier than ever. Entice, enjoy, and deliver on your promises and women will reward you with their loyalty.
6. “The return.”
Okay, this is the answer everyone wants to know. What is the return? And, as in our first point, the answer to this varies from place to place. In general, CEO’s want more volume and more revenue. Some hospitals give their service lines exposure through these events, either as sponsors or exhibitors, and some are set up so they are actually able to track utilization of services. In fact, they may not always be traceable, but these programs can result in women using health system services appropriately and regularly without fear.
Across the board, they fulfill emotional and physical needs for women and build and maintain strong relationships with the women in the community. Some programs involve fundraising for endeavors that benefit the community; the benefits may take the form of financial support, or they may demonstrate some other form of bringing women together to support other women and families. Ideally, the end result is that women feel connected and look to the event sponsor as their primary resource for all their healthcare needs, not only for themselves, but for their families, as well.
While we’ve emphasized fun, joy and camaraderie, let’s not forget that a woman’s experience may also be life-changing in gaining information that leads to an early diagnosis or a reconciliation between family members. It may be sparked by a speaker’s comments or a workshop sharing experience – these are the experiences that become possible under the umbrella of your women’s health event.
Thank you to Nancy Coey for inspiring me to write this article. This is a bit of a compilation of her article combined with my opinions and experience. Coincidentally, we’ve both been specializing in women’s health events for ten years. If you’d like an email copy of Nancy Coey’s complete Ireland Report article, “”Women’s Health Programming: In Tune with the Times,” just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and write WOMEN’S HEALTH in the Subject line, and I’ll send it to you.
And, a little bit about Nancy — Nancy is known for opening women’s hearts and minds with fun programs. Humor and storytelling are her strengths. She’s a master at helping women find the humor, irony and joy in everyday events. Using her own experiences as examples, she inspires women to re-commit to healthy living, maintain a positive outlook despite dire circumstances, and find balance amidst chaos. Her specialty is discovering the opportunities hidden in small things and learning from unlikely teachers.
To learn more about Nancy Coey and her entertaining women’s programs, like “What Would Happen If I DID Remove the Mattress Tag ?!?” please visit our website or give us a call at 503-699-5031.
What Would Happen If I DID Remove the Mattress Tag?
Nothing. I did it the other day. Uh, well other than the joy of doing something forbidden.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer. Sleep outside. Buy new pillows and get the scissors out! What a feeling!
Until next time, take care of yourself for your good health and those you love.
PLEASE NOTE: The information shared in this e-news is designed to help you make informed decisions about speakers and the programs they offer. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. If you suspect you have a medical problem, seek competent medical help.