How to Stay Focused During Meetings

How to Stay Focused During Meetings
It’s eight o’clock, Monday morning. You receive a text that you’re invited to the board room for a meeting. You probably roll your eyes. Meetings are inevitable, but they can also be tedious.

Numbers are laid down on the table. The potential market is projected on the screen. There's a new demography you want to reach out to. Everything is interesting, but the talks are long. There’s a good chance that the voices blur inside your head as you slowly, gradually drift away. Oops.

Falling out of focus during a meeting is easy. Your mind tends to wander and wonder about something else; like, did your daughter take her medicine? Has the dog been found? Did your package arrive on time? The worse part of it: boredom takes its toll and you fall asleep.

Keeping your focus in a meeting may seem hard, but not impossible. To give the speaker your full attention, here are some ways to help you stay awake and alert.

Do not stay in one position. Sitting makes one sedentary; the atmosphere is dim, the couch is comfortable, and the recline will make you feel helplessly drowsy. Instead of leaning back, push your shoulders forward so you can look at the speaker in the eye. Avoid cupping your chin on the table.

Instead of sitting down, stand. A research from the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri states that groups working together while standing are more engaged than while seated. In this study, the researchers discovered that standing meetings "prepare the body for action" and collaboration. This is a stark difference from being seated in a conference room, where participants tend to feel more territorial and carry an individually-oriented mindset.

Suggest timed meetings. Time is money; much of this can be wasted with the delays caused by waiting for people and derailing from the main agenda. Your goal: start on time, end on time. Have a moderator who will lead the discourse and ensure that the meeting sticks to the plan and ends productively.

Avoid bringing gadgets. Your smartphone is useful, but it can also disrupt a conversation. There’s the temptation of finishing Level 33 of Wordscapes and a sudden call can easily raise everyone’s brows at you. Instead of bringing your device, carry a journal. It’s your best companion during long hours of sitting down. If you must bring your phone, use it only for taking down notes.

Participate. That’s the reason you’re there – you’re part of the crew, and you can speak your mind whenever allowed. Follow the discussion and prepare questions. Raise them during appropriate times. This way, your mind is less likely to wander, and the rest of the group can have a healthy discourse of past and future undertakings as you break the ice.

Are you required to be there? If you are not needed in the meeting, take the time to focus on other important priorities.

Meetings are factual, and sometimes less fun, but you can give it your entire focus despite the less entertainment. By training your mind to listen and take part, meetings can become moments wherein you can learn, and, when given the chance, teach in return.

Jonas Diezun

Jonas is Co-Founder at RADICE. He is an avid reader, soccer player and loves hiking in the Munich mountains. He usually writes about productivity, sleep and the science behind both. He studied at in Munich and New York, and worked in Startups. His best advice for sleep? Have a fixed routine and see sleep & recreation as the most important pillar for your health. It determines everything.
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