Energetic meetings

Keeping energy high in meetings is an invaluable way to ensure they are creative and productive sessions.

Firstly, it helps to get the environment right.

  • Where possible, choose a room with natural light, ideally with windows that open. Open doors and windows prior to the meeting to get a change of energy. If the meeting is a long one, find time during the meeting to open everything up again to get another change of energy.
  • If necessary, take a few moments to tidy the room, to make it a more pleasant environment.
  • Make sure that ample water is available. Fill everyone's glasses at the start and keep them topped up. If the meeting is over lunch, aim for high energy food (salads, fruit) and avoid the heavy carbohydrates (sandwiches) which leave people lethargic.
  • Maintain good posture and breathing - sit up, with a long back and open, dropped shoulders, not slouching, legs uncrossed and slightly apart, breathing deeply and easily from the lower rib cage to ensure good oxygen intake.

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Meeting room - (Photo: Gracey)

There are several exercises that help keep energy high through the meeting and build rapport.

  • Start the meeting by inviting everyone in turn briefly to say something positive - this might be about their life in general or might specifically relate to what's going well at work, on the project, etc.
  • Make clear right from the start that everyone will have their say, without interruption. Ask everyone to listen with full attention, to be as much in the present as possible to whoever is speaking. This gives everyone energetic airspace and helps clear thinking, creativity and good communication.
  • Allow emotions into the meeting. All too often genuine feelings are repressed at work and then they leak out later in inappropriate ways - through cynicism, sniping, non-cooperation. Those who are observing strong emotions in others just need to stay calm, watch and send positive thoughts, rather than try to get involved and "make it better" for those concerned.
  • Encourage people to get up, move around, use flip charts, doodle. These are the ways our bodies and minds work together to create, learn and assimilate new ideas.

Watching energy levels during the meeting, we can take action to make sure energy stays high. Do people start to stifle yawns, or begin to slump? If so energy is waning. It's time to get everyone moving and breathing deeply - to re-engage right and left brain, to get the lymph system on the move and the blood pumping more oxygen to the brain.

There are various quick ways to raise energy. Some may seem a distraction, but in fact they refresh and enable everyone to return to the task with renewed vigour:

  • take a comfort break and get people up and out of the room for a few minutes
  • put people into smaller groups to discuss specific agenda items then report back
  • if chairing the meeting, move to the other side of the room, so that people have to turn around and literally get a different perspective
  • ask everyone to stand and stretch and have a good yawn, cross over their arms and thump their chests
  • take a few minutes break and ask everyone to close their eyes, sit up and imagine white light pouring down through their bodies and feel energy come flooding back.

End the meeting by inviting everyone in turn to say something positive to the person next to them about their contribution to the meeting.