Eventbrite hosted the RECONVENE summit in May 2021, bringing together thousands of event producers. We’re sharing key takeaways from popular sessions on topics like safely returning to in-person events, data insights, and best practices for attracting more attendees on our blog and our RECONVENE Recaps hub.

Social gatherings are resuming again, and Dr. Jennifer Aaker is thrilled. Physically being together with others is crucial for our happiness and well-being, she says.

“It’s time to start feeling hopeful and also thoughtful about how we want to reset, re-enter, and come back into this new chapter of our lives,” says Aaker, who is a Stanford professor and social psychologist.

During Eventbrite’s RECONVENE summit, the journalist Katie Couric joined Aaker in a conversation about the importance of bringing people together and how creators can leverage the power of humour in their work.

Here are three takeaways for creators:

Watch Dr. Jennifer Aaker’s full talk here:

Bringing People Together in Person Is Still Important

“We’re a social species, and our brains are literally wired to encourage social behaviour,” Aaker says. It’s no surprise, then, that loneliness increased during the pandemic, while mental well-being decreased (especially among teenagers).

When you’re physically with other people at a gathering, the neurochemicals in your brain light up: You’re more likely to experience endorphins, which creates a feeling like a runner’s high, and to experience an oxytocin release, Aaker says. (Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone, and it makes you feel happy.)

Gathering together in person again will help offset the burnout many experienced during the pandemic, Aaker predicts. In-person events and gatherings will play a crucial role in recovering our mental well-being.

It’s Vital to Always Strive to Laugh With Your Guests

Research has found that if you ask someone if they smiled or laughed the previous day, the answer suddenly becomes no around age 23. It “plummets,” Aaker says, and doesn’t become “yes” again until retirement age.

Not laughing is a travesty, she says: “Laughter is a social glue that really does bond people.”

She adds that humour isn’t the same thing as being funny; it’s simply having a mindset of levity. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to be able to understand each other’s humour styles. The four main styles are:

  • The sniper: This person is edgy and dry, and the master of the unexpected dig.
  • The standup: Bold and irreverent, this person is unafraid to ruffle feathers to get a laugh.
  • The sweetheart: They’re earnest and understated, and lighten the mood.
  • The magnet: This style refers to people who are expressive, charismatic, and infectious.

Planning Gatherings, Even if You Cancel Them, Is the First Step

The mere act of planning a gathering activates important pleasure centres in our brain, Aaker says. So start there, and if you need to cancel, it’s OK. Her other favourite tips for easing back into our social lives include:

  • Think about ways to complement the gathering, like dropping gifts off for your guests on the day of, or starting it with a ritual that makes everyone feel like they’re on the same page.
  • Brand it: This could mean branding your opening ritual or the experience, so that there’s a name people can refer to it by. This will help them feel like part of a group and will also help people remember your gathering more fondly, Aaker says.
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