Has this happened to you? You work for months to build the perfect meeting. You nailed the marketing, got people registered and completed banquet event orders. You even secured the perfect speakers. Then people arrive, and they are not present. They are in the room physically, but not with their hearts and minds. Instead, they are on their phones, wandering off and doing anything but participating in the meeting.
Did you wonder where you went wrong? This is where becoming a mindful meeting professional comes in. A mindful planner designs events that bring participants fully and mindfully into the goals objectives and results of a meeting experience and doesn’t require climbing a 14er. Mindful meeting planners are aware of the being-ness of the meeting with equal importance to the doing of the meeting.
It is a misconception that to create a mindful life you must sit in the lotus position near the ocean or on a mountaintop. This is simply not true. Mindfulness is the science of health and happiness simply by becoming present no matter where you are.
Unfortunately, meeting attendees are experiencing record stress levels. They rush into registration overwhelmed, exhausted and uncertain about why they are there. As meeting professionals, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to create more mindful meetings no matter where your meeting is. Don’t worry, you can put your Birkenstocks away—mindful meetings only require new thoughts about how you build your meeting.
Tips for Creating Mindful Meetings
» Be still and know. Before diving deep into the planning process take time to still yourself and steer your team into a clear vision of what the meeting will look, feel and sound like. Write these things out, draw them and get a sense of the being-ness of the meeting not just the doing.
» Set a meeting intention. An intention is a word you set as the aim or plan for meeting. For example, the intention for a sales meeting may be connection. For a board meeting, it may be conversation. Once the intention has been set as the energy of the meeting, build the logistical details around that.
» Develop a vision. The best athletes in the world set a vision for their performance. They play that vision over and over leading up to the event. If this method works for athletes, why are you not doing that as meeting professionals? Set a vision for meeting the colors, feelings and sounds, the full experience of it. Play it over and over.
» Use affirmations. We are more powerful than we think. Create a one-sentence affirmation that is stated at the beginning of the planning cycle and becomes the seed of what you want the meeting to become. For example, “This meeting is the successful center for executives to decide the future of our organization.”
» Build in breathing time. Beyond breaks, make time for participants to reflect on the content.
» Give thanks. Often, meetings are the dreaded part of someone’s day. Offer a thanksgiving at the beginning of the meeting for the good that will come from it and at the end for the positive that has transpired. This invites more good into the lives of you, participants and sponsor companies.
Mindful meetings are here to stay. Don’t let mindless meetings happen to you. Instead, begin with the end in mind and look at the energy needed to create an impactful gathering with the same level of detail required for logistics. Then, you surely will have more mindful meetings.
Holly Duckworth, LSP, CAE, CMP is a nationally recognized speaker, author and coach for awakening mindful leaders.