Meetings – they’re not everybody’s favorite part of the day. They can be long and boring and eat into the rest of your schedule. This blog post is going to provide you with techniques to keep you focused and engaged in every meeting!

You’re sitting in your Monday morning meeting. An hour has gone by. Your interest is feigning. You can see your boss’s eyes fall on you and then suddenly, there it is.

The back of your throat begins to swell. Your head gets foggy. Your eyes begin to water. You try to keep it back, but it’s getting worse. You can’t keep it in anymore, you look like you are having a stroke, and so you let it escape – the yawn. The dreaded yawn.

You cover your mouth in an effort to conceal it, but it’s no use. The tears are now flooding. You begin to swallow the room. There’s no hiding it. You may as well have stood on top of your chair and shouted BORING, because that’s now what everyone imagines you’re thinking.

Of course, they wouldn’t be wrong either, but it doesn’t exactly make you look good. Staying focused and engaged in meetings is a tribulation that we all face. Meetings have a reputation for being drawn out and ineffective uses of time, but they don’t have to be an insurmountable bore.

We treat meetings as a chore don’t we? It’s an obstacle in our day that we just have to get over before we go back to our desk for the real work to start. Truthfully, you can be busy working at your desk all day long and still learn nothing. You can gain more insight from one meeting than endless late nights in the office. Meetings are held for a reason. You are supposed to get something out of them!

Before the meeting

Even when you expect to be in a really long and boring meeting, remember that you don’t know everything! Chances are you will at least learn one new thing. So…

  1. Keep an open mind and don’t go in with a negative attitude.
  2. Be fed and watered – nothing kills concentration quite like hunger or thirst.
  3. Make sure you’re well rested before the meeting starts.
  4. Be prepared. Understand what the agenda of the meeting will be before you walk in.
  5. Write some points and questions that you want answers to in a notebook and bring that notebook to the meeting.

During the meeting

There are three main ways people absorb information. The main three are listening, looking, and doing. It is important in meetings to listen, look, and do.

So… during a meeting, look at who’s talking, listen to what that person is saying, and do some physical work too, like taking notes. By doing these three things, you will engage all the senses required to take in information.

  1. Listen. This goes without saying surely?
  2. Look at whoever is speaking. It will help you to concentrate and take in information. Visuals complement audio and will help you retain information for longer.
  3. Being active can help people concentrate. When you do things, such as note taking, it helps you to grasp information, especially when accompanied with listening and looking.

Doing tips

Mind Maps

One good way to take notes during meetings that won’t numb your brain is by using mind maps. Mind maps are a creative way to take notes. They charm both the left and right side of your brain and make it easier for you to concentrate and retain information.

Work those Muscles

If things are exceptionally boring and you just can’t even focus right now, then one way to make sure you stay awake and upright is to do some muscle tightening and relaxing. Start with your toes and work your way up to your feet, calves, thighs, etc.

Trust me, this actually works! Tense and relax. Tense and relax. This should keep your body and mind active.

Moral of the Story

When you listen, look, and do in meetings, you will be able to stay focused and engaged and keep back the yawning in every meeting. Don’t be a negative Nancy – give meetings a chance you can get a lot out of them.

Having the right attitude, being fed, watered, rested, and well prepared will help you get the most out of your meetings.

Try out these techniques and let us know how it helps you to stay awake during meetings.

Do you have more meeting tips? Please share them with us and comment below!

Want some tips on how to run better meetings? Check these out:

Secrets of Scrum Meetings

7 Essentials for Effective Team Meetings