Your weeks fly at lightning speed and your days are filled up with back-to-back meetings? Working on different time zones, you have late conference calls or very early (and indecent) zoom calls? I’m sure you feel the same. It has getting worse with the global pandemic, as it is even easier to schedule back-to-back meetings on zoom!
It’s time to think about leading mindful meetings. Read on, I’ll tell you all about how to conduct a mindful meeting.
Let’s face it. Many people don’t love attending to a lot of meetings, especially if they are poorly executed.
Have you ever attended meetings and wondered what was the point of it? I have.
Have you ever attended a meeting where it was interesting but 6 months down the line nothing has changed and it seems that everything we discussed never existed? I have.
Have you ever attended a “very important call” late at night and wondered what was the important point that couldn’t wait a more decent time? I have
Be honest with me. You’ve probably had your share of meetings that felt like a total waste of time. And then we wondered why people feel disengaged at work.
So, what is a mindful meeting?
A mindful meeting is one that infuses mindfulness practices and emotional intelligence into an effective meeting structure. What makes a meeting mindful is mostly how you show up (if you are the one who set up this meeting) and how participants show up and interact with one another.
To conduct this kind of meeting, there is structure to be followed and a question to be answered to: what is the intention of a mindful meeting?
Well you want it to be efficient and you want your people to be inspired and engaged. So, you are aiming for four targets:
As a Coach, I’m all about being practical. Nothing woo woo about it. So, you don’t have to make all your meetings mindful but I’m sure you can already identify those who can be more mindful.
Here are my 10 step by step guide on how to lead a mindful meeting, with some of them even starting before the meeting starts.
I told you, mindfulness is nothing woo woo, it is very practical. It all starts with having a clear shared understanding about the purpose of the meeting. It allows everyone and yourself to show up prepared.
Are you entering the meeting like a headless chicken? Are you still carrying the emotions of your previous conversation into the meeting? A 3-breaths practice is your survival kit for busy overloaded days to help you check in with your mental and emotional state.
As the meeting starts, invite everyone to take a minute to arrive. It will help them to get centered and focused. Check here how to introduce this mindfulness practice minute to arrive into your work environment.
If the groups meet regularly, for example your regular team meetings, check what are the group norms. We know that teams are more efficient when they agree on a group norm. Establish a set of norms to which everyone can agree and hold themselves accountable. Review occasionally those group norms as they may evolve over time. If the group of participants doesn’t meet regularly or if it is a one-off meeting, I invite you to set some intentions for this meeting. Here are some examples of team norms: curiosity and open-mindedness, acceptance, avoid multitasking, monitor headspace and emotions.
Although I would call this point #5 a “quick check in” it actually hugely encourages connection and togetherness. Take a few moments to allow each person to check in. Depending on group size, check-ins can be from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Start first if you are leading this meeting to model openness and vulnerability. By the way on vulnerability, have you watched the ted Talk from Brene Brown The Power of Vulnerability ? I love it. I’ll share more on Vulnerability and Leadership. But let’s go Back on mindful meetings. Here are potentials check in prompts:
This will ensure you that everybody is aligned and on board. Review the agenda and desired outcomes. When you lead a meeting, you want to actually lead your people taking actions for the desired outcomes.
You are the bandmaster so manage both the band and the agenda. As you move through the agenda, articulate when you move from topic to topic. It helps people bring back their focus and getting engaged. If a useful diversion comes up, acknowledge it and link it to how it impacts the rest of the agenda. If the diversion is not useful or appropriate at that time, add it to a parking lot for future discussion or delegate it.
At the end of the meeting, take a few minutes to recap all decisions, agreements, actions items and / or open question. A good meeting can lose in impact is the closure is rushed off. Be practical, clear and concise: what have we decided, who is going to do what, by when, how will we resolve the issues that are still open, what’s likely to get in the way of us implementing what we agreed to today?
If time permits, a check-out is as important as a check in. Allow each person to share how they are feeling at the end of the meeting. A good way to lead that is to use the “one breath rule” which means any comment should be short enough to fit into one breath!
Follow through!!! I heard that too many times! HQ organized that meeting and as always, no news, no actions. People are tired attending endless meetings and zoom calls for nothing. When appropriate, make sure meeting notes or a recap of decisions and action items are sent to stakeholders.
As always, I’m here at your service. Share with me your biggest problem and I’ll get back to you with very easy and practical tools to address it.
Alice teaches how to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results.
Alice is a HR executive, coach, mentor, therapist, mindfulness practitioner and teacher, public speaker, animal lover, nature addict, wellbeing advocate, wife, stepmother… or for short just a Human Being.