How to create meetings worth attending

Ways to make conference room get-togethers mindful, not mind-numbing

If you’ve ever dozed off in a meeting, you’re not alone. Research from Atlassian found that nearly 40 percent of people have fallen asleep in the conference room. Making a meeting effective and stimulating can be tough, but there are ways.

To have a high-performance mindful meeting use these five steps to make meetings more mindful, productive and creative and to enhance interactions through greater emotional intelligence:

Create an expectation of winning and success. At the Fearless Leaders Entrepreneur Forum monthly meeting, everyone starts by sharing that month’s victories. Then we celebrate those wins in a quick group acknowledgement that is an extremely powerful success reinforcement. Beginning our meetings this way puts everybody’s mind in a success framework; the psychological term for this is subliminal priming. Later, when the discussion focuses on problem-solving, everyone’s mind is primed for positive successful solutions because of how the meeting started. These entrepreneurs almost always exceed their annual goals. It’s a great ROI!

Use a timer and time all tasks. A task generally expands to the time you give it. Agree on how much time each agenda item needs; there will be different amounts of time for each one. If you assigned an agenda item 10 minutes, set the timer for seven or eight minutes, whatever seems like the right amount of time to let the group know it needs to come to a conclusion. Then reset the timer and finish discussing the topic, including determining what action items to take.

Engage with respect and curiosity. Have extremely well-defined values as an organization and/or team, including showing great respect toward others. In organizational cultures, respect is an extremely common value. However, people interpret respect differently. One person might consider it disrespectful to question another’s perspective. However, high-performing organizations and teams value differences. When somebody presents an idea that is different from yours, you can be respectful and curious.

Example: Melanie came up with a  strategy that differs from yours. Instead of rejecting it, pause, open your mind and say, “That’s different and extremely interesting. Could you share why you think that would be so effective?” This shows respect for her thinking, and she may have a new, brilliant approach that no one has thought about.

Use the power of your subconscious as well as your conscious mind! If you’re problem-solving or brainstorming, intersperse moments of total silence with talking. Neuroscience research found that when you sit in silence, quiet your mind and stop thinking about solving the problem you have been working on, a much larger portion of the brain, including your subconscious mind, starts working on solving the problem. The March/April 2015 issue of Psychology Today quotes the study: “The brain in ‘idle,’ it turns out, is actually far more active than the brain in conscious engagement.” This research indicates that when working on a problem in silence, the resting brain uses about 20 times as much brain power as the conscious brain when working on the problem. Solving a challenging problem combining silence with active discussion allows everyone’s whole brain to work on the problem.

Use positive accountability. At the end of each agenda item and/or the end of the meeting, summarize actions to take, who will take them (assign one person as the lead) and when the action should be complete. Check that items are completed on time and as appropriate, acknowledge and celebrate successful completion of team and individual goals, bringing things full circle, back to the first way of creating a mindful meeting.

Before setting up a meeting, you might want to read How to Run an Effective Meeting: 9 Unusual Strategies, which is one of my most popular articles. It’s got some great strategies to create a high-performance meeting.

Categories: Management & Leadership, Web Exclusives