“After my session with you Meeting Hell goes on for the rest of the day 10am – 4pm,” a client said to me recently. Sound familiar?
Again and again my clients show up to their coaching sessions a few minutes late and out of breath. When I am physically in one of their offices, I see people running from meeting room to meeting room, telling others to leave and rushing to start the next one.
Clearly the current meeting culture isn’t working for anyone!
So what can you do? In my coaching I do a lot of work around how to choose what meetings to be present at, how to say no to meetings and so on. But that takes deep work and courage because it is about shifting the organisational culture.
So if you don’t feel quite ready for that, here is a quicker intervention that can make a massive difference:
Start your meeting with silence!
Yes, I am serious. Just 60 seconds of silence will make a massive difference. And there are businesses already doing this. At Eileen Fisher’s fashion company, founder Fisher always starts meetings with “the ringing of a bell and a moment of quiet”. And although the ding of a bell isn’t an essential, the moment of silence is definitely worth it’s time in gold.
Both in one-to-ones and in workshops I so often ask people to stop and breathe for a moment. I ask them to simply feel their feet on their ground and to just let thoughts be thoughts.
It always makes me smile when people say “I don’t think I can breathe for 60 seconds,” because of course all us human beings are breathing all the time – just mostly unconsciously. Then a couple of minutes later, when we have done the mini-exercise together, they remark how much calmer and better they feel and how they are already clearer about their next step of action.
Here are 5 reasons to start your meetings with a minute of quiet:
- It gives people a chance to catch their breath. Most people will be rushing from something else to arrive at your meeting.
- I gets people more present. So many meeting rooms are full of bodies but people’s minds are elsewhere. By allowing people a moment to breathe, you can get them more mentally and physically present.
- It allows people a moment to let go of what they were doing before and therefor helps them become more focused.
- It is a chance to get people to get clear on why they are in your meeting and what they want from it.
- It creates more calmness in people’s mind and body and with calmness comes better clarity of thoughts and increased likelyhood of useful contributions in the meeting.
Exercise: How to set up your meeting with a productive silence
There really is no right way to set up the silence, but if you have never done it before, you can use the steps below as a guide.
What tricks do you have for getting a good start to a meeting?