Americans have more than one billion meetings per year. At around $338 in staff salaries for each meeting, this amounts to a huge amount of money spent each year on meetings. To get the most out of this substantial cost center, employees and employers need to maximize attention and retention at every meeting.
Prime Your Brain
Scientists define boredom as an inability to engage your mind with either internal or external processes. If you are attending a meeting, it is difficult to control your external environment but your internal, mental world is completely in your control.
One way to keep yourself focused is to prime your mind for engagement. First thing in the morning, do a puzzle. This will predispose your brain to engaged thought. It will also give you something to think about during the low points of the meeting. This does not mean that the staff should tune out but it does give the multi-focused extra resources to stay attentive.
Most meetings do not have an agenda, which can lead to rambling, redundant, and dull gatherings. The host and attendees should have specific measurable goals for the meeting. It is best if the goals overlap.
Goal setting is a practice that is attributed to highly successful people. In an article by Forbes Entrepreneur section, the author recommends that goals be short term and follow the S.M.A.R.T. acronym; smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. If you are presenting, make this part of the agenda. If you are a participant, force the information that you are receiving into S.M.A.R.T. goals so that you can implement it in a timely fashion.
A daily routine of exercise makes a person feel good. This is not just a simple statement by low body fat individuals trying to sell workout DVDs. Research published in the Journal of the Society of Behavioral Medicine shows that exercise changes a person’s world view and creates a consistency of behaviors with the person’s values. The feeling that a person gets from establishing a self-paced exercise routine translates to increased value-added focus and a drive to continue making productive use of time.
Along with exercise, nutrition has a direct effect on fatigue and focus. Heavy, carbohydrate loaded foods can lead to spikes and subsequent drops in blood sugar levels, which will cause sleepiness and lack of focus. Likewise hunger will make it very hard to stay engaged since the brain is hardwired to shift its attention to finding a source of food. Protein is a good pre-meeting fuel since it takes longer to digest and supplies energy over a greater amount of time. Caffeine in coffee and tea is an effective stimulant but too much, like what is found in energy drinks, can have the effect of causing mental distraction.
The Vedic practice of Satsang is Sanskrit, meaning to be in the company of the highest truth. To stay focused at a meeting, seek out those who have the same truths as you. It may seem very philosophic but in practice the attentive Satsang meeting goer is developing a team that can assist in accomplishing daily goals. Use this philosophy to create a productive and focused meeting.