Meeting planning is consistently named one of the most stressful jobs—and stressed-out meeting planners tend to create stressful meetings.
Mindful meeting professionals who practice being fully present in the moment without judgment tend to also plan their meetings more mindfully. The resulting events create deeper connections and more learning.
Here are some ways you can bring more mindfulness to your meetings pre-, during, and post-event.
Before the Meeting
• Connect to a clear vision of what you want to have happen for your meeting. What does your meeting look like (colors images), feel like (warm, cool), and sound like (country, rock and roll, screaming babies)?
• Set your intention for the meeting. Intention is energy in motion—what do you choose for this meeting? For example, do you intend the energy to be peaceful? Joyful? Profitable?
• Determine the energy of each meeting aspect. Mindful meeting planners are careful to vary the energy to meet the intentions of each part of the event. Deliberately set an agenda that changes up the energy in the room and deepens the connection of participants.
• Visualize the meeting. The best athletes visualize taking that shot or leaping that hurdle before it happens, creating the energy field for it to happen. Close your eyes and allow your mind’s eye to see the meeting even before you build it, and repeat the process several times.
• Bring mindfulness to your marketing. Be clear about why you are having the meeting. How do you need to come together? What needs to be accomplished? Who needs to be there? Never assume that just because the meeting has always been done a certain way that it needs to be done that way in the future.
During the Meeting
• Renew your intention. Throughout the meeting, check back in on your intentions. Feel those intentions coming true.
• Recognize the good even when it’s challenging. Whisper your gratitude, write a note, speak it out loud—find some way to acknowledge what’s going well.
• Center participants in the room with a breathing activity. You may have their bodies in the room, but do you also have your participants’ minds and hearts? One way to bring all of them into the room is by starting each meeting with a short breathing exercise.
• Be conscious about technology use. It’s not possible to multitask mindfully. As a group, agree to how technology—social media, email, and other distractions—will or will not be used during the meeting.
• Be aware of movement—or the lack of movement—in session rooms. Can you get people walking, breathing, or otherwise moving their bodies as they move their minds?
• Unify your team each day. Connect with each key person at least once a day to gauge their energy. Then do what you need to to keep them positive and light, including addressing any concerns.
• Be thankful and express your gratitude for your participants, vendors, and your team early and often.
After the Meeting
• Breathe. Put your feet on the ground and re-center yourself.
• Affirm what went well.
• Feel grateful and share your gratitude with all involved in the meeting.
Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP, LSP, is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and contributor to The New York Times. She works with stressed-out meeting professionals to create profit, peace, and presence through the art and science of mindfulness practices. For more information visit www.hollyduckworth.com; follow her on Twitter @hduckworth