Tired of boring, soul sucking meetings? Get more energy, focus and productivity out of your meetings by following these eight simple strategies.
1. Set an Expiration Date. Make it a rule that meetings don’t go longer than 2 hours without taking a break. Often times the tendency is to try and “push through” in order to get things done, but the truth is that after 2 hours people have checked out. Allowing them 10-15 minutes to get recovery will make your meeting more productive over the long run as they’ll come back refreshed and ready to focus.
2. Take a Stand. Make it OK for people to stand up whenever they need to. Some people become uncomfortable sitting for long periods or they may need to move a bit to keep their energy up. They can stand at the back or sides of the room and still participate.
3. Make a Game of Musical Chairs No One Can Win. Remove the chairs from the room so everyone stands for the duration of the meeting. Not only will it keep everyone from multitasking or getting tired and zoning out, it will also most likely shorten the duration of the meeting!
4. Get it to Go. If you’re only meeting with 1 or 2 other people, make it a walking meeting. Walking increases blood circulation to the body and brain, delivering more energy for physical and mental performance. If it’s not conducive to walk outside find a route within your building or take it to the stairwell.
5. Go Low. Serving sweets, chips and soda during meetings may seem like a good idea, but in reality all of these things can lead to an energy crash. These foods are high glycemic, which means they get broken down into glucose (energy) and released into the blood stream very quickly. Within about 30 minutes a precipitous drop follows this rush in blood glucose – leaving people low on energy. Serving low glycemic foods high in fiber, protein and healthy fats slows the release of glucose in the bloodstream, resulting in more sustained energy. (Read a previous post to learn more about the benefits of eating low glycemic.)
6. Lose 15 Minutes. Make your meetings 45 minutes instead of an hour. If you schedule meetings for an hour, they’ll always take at least that long. I’ve had many corporate clients shorten their meetings and manage to accomplish just as much as longer ones. Some of them have even gone to 30-minute meetings, are getting the same amount of work done and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
7. No multitasking allowed. Nothing kills the energy and productivity of a meeting like people not paying attention. At the outset of every meeting ask for everyone’s full engagement and make a pact that no one will multitask. Have everyone set their phones and electronic devices on a separate table.
8. Ants in the Pants. Studies have shown the longer we sit, the more our energy, focus and productivity wanes. Set a timer and pause every 30-45 minutes to lead everyone through a brief series of stretches and small movements – they don’t even have to stand up. Have them reach both arms forward to stretch their backs, then instruct them to clasp their hands behind their backs and lift their arms to stretch their chests. Shoulder rolls, neck rotations, spinal twists and straightening the legs several times are a few other options for small movements to get the blood and energy flowing.