#13: build a better (mental) meeting

happy monday! finally, after a busy couple of weeks, we are back to the build a better meeting series. i worried that maybe the lack of posts communicated that i had lost interest or passion in building efficient and effective meetings, but rest assured – that will never be the case! i’m constantly thinking about how to create more beautiful and creative, and wonderful meeting environments! (exciting life i lead, right?!)

enjoy today’s tip!

tip: encourage mental focus by eliminating useless mental energy

my favorite conference producer and friend lori bethran once gave me great advice while i was preparing to give a talk at a large conference. right before i was to go on stage to talk about the spiritual formation of children, my husband was on stage hosting a silly game show. i told lori that as a fun transition, i wanted to say something about how that crazy game show host was my husband – and then i would proceed with my deeply profound, and challenging spiritual formation talk. lori kindly said that was not a good idea. she said that by me mentioning that kelly was my husband, i would encourage the attendees to spend the next several minutes engaging in useless mental energy. instead of listening to my words on spiritual formation, they would be thinking in their heads about my husband, and me, and our family, and where we lived, and if we had kids, and how we had met, etc, etc, etc, etc. and all the while i would have lost their attention for what really mattered – the spiritual formation of children.

i think we often do the same thing in meetings. without sometimes realizing it, we encourage participants to engage in useless mental energy. when we make a quick joke about our kids, or our spouses, or our weekend activities – we cause people to be mentally distracted at times when we most need their complete mental focus.

instead, when leading a meeting be aware of everything you say. during times when you need everyone’s complete mental focus (when you are planning, brainstorming, and evaluating), chose your words carefully and be sure not to allow distraction type conversations to enter. set aside separate times for catching up on each other’s personal lives and for engaging in casual conversation. but, when it’s time to focus – model and encourage complete mental focus!

it’s so easy to be mentally distracted. acknowledge this with your team mates, and let them know you will do everything possible to keep them mentally engaged. in return, ask for them to set aside mental distractions and stay fully engaged.

share your story! how do you encourage mental focus during meetings?

build a better meeting is a collaborative project – if you’ve got a great tip for building a better meeting, email or tweet me: amy@lemonlimekids.com | @adolan

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