Who could have predicted at the beginning of 2020 that we’d be having all our meetings via video conferencing?  I can’t be the only person who wishes they’d invested in Zoom shares back in March. In all seriousness, despite having access to multi functional video conferencing facilities – meetings are still the bane of some of our lives.  Even when done remotely. 
Human beings are by nature social creatures.  We thrive on interaction and connection.  We seek each other out for company and relationships because it adds to our wellbeing.  With the number of social media users worldwide at 2.77 billion and rising, we do everything better together, including business.  For some it’s been an absolute revelation. It’s been freeing and empowering. But for the people who thought Covid 19 had given them a “get out of pointless meetings free” card, it delivered the opposite. 

“Zoom Fatigue” – the pain is real  
My clients frequently complain about days of “back to back” which has become a common phrase, meaning a day of meeting after meeting with no break. And that was before lockdown. People are mentally and emotionally exhausted from lockdown and every way in which Coronavirus has touched our lives.  Virtual meetings are adding to the burden. Additional workload often means more meetings. Not seeing people in person generates more meetings. A need for “connection”….. even more meetings. 

Meetings Matter 
Meetings do matter. Meetings are part and parcel of running a business. They have an essential function within an organisation, but time is our most precious commodity. Meetings that waste time are not only frustrating but meetings with no real purpose can be damaging to the overall aims of the team. Meetings without form, have no function. 
Signs and symptoms of “bad meetings” 

  • A meeting with no clear purpose or agenda – meeting for the sake of meeting
  • A meeting with no prior preparation or planning  – a waste of everyone’s time. Usually results in the meeting being postponed to a later day because nobody has the relevant or required information 
  • A meeting where it is unclear who is in charge – who called the meeting, what is the end goal of the meeting? Do all the people round the table need to be here? Who are the key action takers? 
  • A meeting that generates additional workload with no clear follow up – we leave with a list of action points but they don’t get scheduled and then next time we meet the action points have no progress and are added to the agenda for the next meeting ad infinitum
  • A meeting with no boundaries, when does it end? What’s it about? What is the purpose? What are we trying to achieve? 
  • A meeting because we usually meet every Monday so we should probably meet this Monday?  

Teams need to communicate. We can’t escape that reality but how can we manage our time and our meetings in a way that adds value and doesn’t become a drain on energy and resources? 
Remote working is going to be here for the foreseeable future but “Zoom fatigue” is real. 

The answer? Mindful Meetings 
I encourage my clients to move towards a model I refer to as “mindful meetings”. 
Mindful meetings add value and further the strategic aims of the business.  How do we create meetings that are purposeful and rewarding and leave their attendees satisfied and empowered?  

  • Meetings that have a clear purpose and strategic aim. 
  • The right people are at the meeting. 
  • Attendees are well prepared and well briefed. 
  • Attendees know what is expected of them and they have the answers ready. This meeting has a clear goal and a set agenda. 
  • A meeting that has direction. Everyone knows who has arranged this meeting and why. They understand how this meeting fits into the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve. 

The Benefits of Mindful Meetings 
We all know when we’ve been to bad meetings. Meetings are a skill in themselves. It can be difficult to make a shift from bad meetings to mindful ones but it’s vital to put in the graft and do it.  I have been delivering a series of meeting masterclass workshops recently and the results have been transformative.  
I have been helping teams;  

  • identify and focus on strategic aims
  • with practical tips and tricks on how to organise and run a mindful meeting 
  • model leadership, inspire others and take ownership of meetings 

The results of mindful meetings;  

  • Soaring confidence 
  • Energised and inspired team members who want to go and do the work
  • Huge shifts in mindset
  • Awareness of new boundaries in meetings they attend 
  • Recognition that they have the power to influence the way meetings are run

Tips for Mindful Meetings

  • Sort out your meeting etiquette and adopt a structure to get the right people at the right meeting talking about the right things. Communicate your boundaries with regards to meetings and watch the shift happen.
  • Get off autopilot and manage your meetings mindset. Structure and process are only one element of a successful meeting and your thinking will determine your contribution. For effective and engaging meetings, manage your mindset not just your medium.
  • Get resourceful and resource yourself. There are so many things available to us now that a meeting really doesn’t have to be dull, so take note of what is available to you and use it. Don’t forget yourself and your energy. What do you need to make sure that you stay on your A game as host or attendee? 

I am currently working on a short open workshop for people like you that want to transform their meetings management. Click here to register your interest and be the first to hear when and where.  I am also offering “power hours” which are focussed sixty minute sessions to help you revitalise the way you approach meetings. Drop me a line at hello@jocowlin.com to get access to my diary. 

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