• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • “We have too many meetings!” It’s a common enough cry, but what lies underneath it is, “We have too many boring/ineffective/time-wasting meetings!” Whether or not you can make meetings less frequent, what can you do to make the meetings you have more meaningful? The practice of stable attention has some insights to offer.

    Be curious: No matter how great or terrible a meeting is, the bottom line is that you are always free to step back and observe what’s happening with curiosity. That will free to you to really see what’s going on and make good decisions about what to do in response.

    Create an environment conducive to attention: clear away any detritus from previous meetings, empty the trash with old pizza crusts, open a window if you can. Make sure there’s enough room for everyone to sit or stand comfortably and equitably. If some or all participants are on a phone conference or video line, take care to ensure they can be seen and heard.

    Set a clear intention: Send an agenda, meeting objectives and timing for each item to all participants beforehand—even if it’s a daily standup meeting, taking five minutes to review where things stand and what’s percolating helps maintain a clear intention.

    Set ground rules: Consider a no-device policy, respect the agenda, avoid side conversations, start and end on time.

    Begin and end the meeting with attention: At the beginning, give each attendee 10 seconds to answer the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how present are you right now?” and explain why. At the end, have each person spend 10 seconds expressing their state of mind as a result of the meeting.

    Document the meeting: Capture what was discussed, what was agreed to, and open issues…even for a standup meeting.

    Try It: Choose a regular meeting on your calendar, one that’s not living up to its potential. Work with your team to bring more attention and focus, using the practices above as a starting point.