Plan meetings that promote action

When people plan big meetings and corporate events they usually (hopefully) have an objective.

They want to motivate people toward a strategic goal. They want to team-build. They want to educate and energize people. Generally speaking, the people planning meetings want attendees to leave the event ready to DO something.

The crazy things is, meetings are often planned in ways that drain people’s energy.

If you have ever got back from a conference with tons of ideas but almost no mental capacity to deal with them, then you what I mean. And if you have ever sat back at your desk after a marathon meeting and wondered what your name is, you know that we need to make some changes.

5 common energy mistakes meeting planners make:

  1. Start times: To get the most out of the day, people often schedule marathon meetings and events to start at 7AM. When you factor in travel time, especially for anyone who crosses time zones to attend the meeting, that makes for a groggy start to what should be a mind-expanding day.Solution: If you need people to be creative, and you plan to challenge them, you need to plan for them to be well-rested at the start. Plan start times that make sense for people, not programs. And remind participants to try to get 8 hours sleep the night before – a quick email can’t hurt.
  2. Afternoon think-tanks: Research into circadian rhythms suggests that by mid afternoon, most people are more likely to excel at physical activities than mental activities. Afternoon think-tanks often tank because people have been sitting, listening, and talking all day. They feel exhausted  because they have depleted their mental energy and they haven’t tapped their physical energy.Solution: Plan kinetic learning, and experiential activities for the afternoons to breathe new life into a meeting. And schedule creative brainstorming sessions for mid-morning when people are fresh, or right after a physical activity that gets people fired up.
  3. Go go go planning: We need real breaks. Meetings that push people to absorb more and more information or offer non-stop mental or emotional stimulation eventually trigger the law of diminishing returns. And let’s face it, high performers want to get the most out of meetings and corporate events – sometimes you practically have to force them to take a break – so plan for that.Solution: Provide a variety of 10 minute break options and encourage people to take them. Offer a quiet room – no cell phones, no talking, just a place to write notes, read, or close your eyes. Offer guided 10 minute walks or facility tours – no talking, just walking people. Or offer 10 minute chair massages. There’s nothing like a massage to let ideas sink in and make creative juices flow.
  4. Coffee and Juice: Let me say this as plainly as possible – you aren’t doing anyone any favours by providing unlimited coffee and juice. They are short-term pick-me-ups and over consumption leads to dehydration, energy crashes, and fatigue.In meetings, even people who usually watch their sugar and caffeine intakes tend to over consume these beverages because a) they are more readily available and b) they are so desperate for an energy boost that they’ll take what they can get (even though as an energy management strategy it is bound to fail.)Solution: Have pitchers of chilled water with lemon, or even strawberries or cucumber EVERYWHERE. Make water the most enticing, most available beverage. Your participants’ hydration – and their concentration – depends on you.
  5. Holy Carbs Batman! Like coffee and juice, planners often think it is a treat for people, and a good energy boost, to provide an endless supply of Danishes, cakes, and muffins for breakfasts and snacks. Then they roll out 3-layer sandwiches or pastas for lunch (and let’s be honest, these are often economical choices). Unfortunately, this kind of meal plan is an energy management and blood sugar nightmare.Solution: Our brains and our bodies work at their best when we feed them proteins and high fiber vegetables with moderate amounts of grains and carbs every few hours. Well-planned, well-portioned snacks and meals help people sustain their energy all day.Breakfsalad-picasts that impress AND get everyone off to a good start include: yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts, or a fritatta (e.g. egg, spinach, onion mushrooms and cheddar) with multi-grain toast.

    Balanced, low-glycemic snacks that do good things for people’s blood sugar at 10 and 2 include: veggies and tzatziki, whole wheat crackers and humous, or apples, cheese, yogurt and nuts.

    Lunch needs to be light, and sustaining so try: salads with seeds and cheeses, served with chicken or black bean wraps (that aren’t all rice), and fresh fruit for dessert.

Survival tactics for staying alert and getting the most out of draining corporate events:

  1. Pack your own snacks – nuts and dried fruit pack easily.
  2. Plan your own breaks – stretch your legs or rest your mind every 90 minutes.
  3. Take a water bottle – have one coffee or juice if that’s part of your routine otherwise stick to H20.
  4. Take your walking shoes or gym gear – the planner might forget about your body but you can’t.
  5. Limit the time you spend doing any one thing – remember that you are in control of you.If the planner has you sitting in a seminar for three hours, get up and walk to the back of the room to stretch every hour (maybe someone will get the hint).If late-night parties are part of the event, but you have an early panel in the morning, say good night early enough to get the sleep you need.

    If there is food out all the time, don’t graze, eat what you need to manage your energy when your body needs it and walk away from the rest of it.

I go to meetings and events expecting the worst. I take my snacks, my water bottle, my walking shoes…

I have to – I can’t afford to crash if I’m presenting. And you can’t afford to keep going to meetings that wipe you out too much to take action. You have to take care of yourself and if enough of us leave the doughnuts to go stale, the planners (and the people paying for them) will start to notice.

Category: All, Energy at work, Homepage, Manage your Energy, Manage your People, Managing high performers
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