If you’ve ever fallen asleep in a meeting, you’re not alone. Research from Atlassian found that nearly 40 percent of people have nodded off in the conference room. Making a meeting effective and stimulating can be tough, but there are ways.
Here are five ways to have a super-productive and mindful meeting:
1. Prime the mind with an expectation of winning and success. At our monthly meeting, everyone first shares a personal and professional update and ends it with that month’s best wins. We then celebrate those wins with a quick group acknowledgement, which 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!
2. Time all tasks and agenda items. A task or an agenda discussion 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 minutes, or whatever seems like the right amount of time to let the group know it is time to come to a conclusion. Then reset the timer and finish discussing the topic, including a concise summary of the discussion and all commitments made to take action.
3. Be respectful and curious. Develop extremely well-defined values as an organization and/or team, including showing great respect toward others. In organizations, respect is an extremely common value. However, people interpret respect differently. One person might consider it disrespectful to question another’s perspective; someone else could feel like it’s important to bring in different or opposing viewpoints. When somebody presents an idea that’s dissimilar from yours, you can be respectful and curious.
Respect example: Joan came up with a strategy that differs from yours. Instead of rejecting it, pause, take a slow breath, open your mind and say, “That’s 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.
4. Access the power of both your conscious and subconscious minds! If you’re brainstorming or problem solving, pause periodically and be in total silence for a few moments. Neuroscience research found that when you sit in silence, quiet your mind and stop thinking about solving the problem, a much larger portion of the brain, including your subconscious mind, starts working on the solution. 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, the resting brain uses about 20 times as much brain power as the conscious brain. Solving a challenging problem combining silence with active discussion allows everyone’s whole brain to work on the problem.
5. Use positive accountability. At the end of each agenda item and/or the meeting, summarize decisions and commitments to take action. Record who’ll take action and when he or she will finish. Check that people complete items on time, and acknowledge completion of commitments, bringing things full circle to recognizing wins!
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 ever. It has some great strategies for creating a high-performance meeting.
TC North, Ph.D., is co-author of the bestselling leadership book on Amazon, “Fearless Leaders,” a high-performance executive coach, a HuffPost blogger and a leadership speaker. Since 1988, he has helped business leaders become high performers who create high-performing organizations that have extraordinary profitability — and that people love to work for. Two companies he worked with transformed from having flat revenue to becoming members of the prestigious Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in America. To learn more, contact Dr. North by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 303-665-8920.