Mindful Meetings

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Are you feeling frustrated because the meetings you attend are long and end with no clear outcomes?  Research suggests a meeting with mindfulness creates a more efficient and successful meeting.

Mindfulness is not just a corporate trend, but a proven method for success. Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for business. Taking the time to practice mindfulness, whether it is simply taking a few deep breaths, or actual meditation has been shown to alter the structures and function of the brain, which allows you to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory.

Mindful meetings are being aware of the ‘now’ and create the opportunity for participants to be engaged, effective, and focused on the priorities of the meeting. This mindset creates an environment for exploration of new ideas and different perspectives.

Steps you can take to lead a mindful meeting:

  1. When planning the meeting, do your best to create a comfortable environment:
    • Meet in an area with enough space for everyone to fit comfortably.
    • Do what you can to ensure the room is not too hot or cold.
    • Remind everyone to bring a beverage.
  2. Start each meeting with a pause. Ask each participant to take a moment to notice where they are and their current mental state. This will prompt them to bring their attention to the present moment. Moods are contagious, taking time to pause will allow participants a chance to breathe, regroup, recharge, and reset. Recognize where everyone is with compassion. A best practice for a starting a mindful meeting:
    • Start the meeting by having participants close their eyes and take two – five minutes to just breathe. During this time ask individuals to let go of unneeded thoughts and to bring themselves completely into the meeting room.
  3. Share the intentions of the meeting, include intentions that go beyond the meeting. End the meeting with answers to the following questions:
    • What have we decided here today?
    • Who is going to do what, by when?
    • How will we resolve the issues that are still open?
    • What is likely to get in the way of us implementing what we agreed to today and how will we handle it?
  4. Ask participants to truly listen and participate in the meeting with curiosity, appreciation, or contribution. Encourage everyone to have their say, bring a different perspective, and support openness. This will prevent groupthink.
  5. Meet face to face, which provides a powerful sense of connection. If face to face is not feasible – use video conferencing, this will help participants see expressions and connect with each other on an emotional level.
  6. Respect the fact people have a limited attention span – keep meetings brief and to the point with breaks when necessary.
  7. Give the gift of time – end meetings a couple of minutes early.

By bringing just a bit more mindfulness to your meetings, you can take what most people consider the most painful part of their day and turn it into a highly productive, even enjoyable experience.

Breathe and be mindful.

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