Day-long meetings often mean lots of sitting – we all know the feeling of wanting to get up and stretch after a long period in a chair. In our last article in this series on keeping up the group energy, we’ll explore the mind-body connection. If you missed the previous two articles, be sure to check out how to engage introverts and extroverts and the fun infographic with tips for working with various types of learning styles.
Mental and Physical Connection – making sure the lessons stick
Did you know that when your body feels sluggish, your brain is also running out of fuel? That’s because the brain needs oxygen to perform, and one way to get oxygen flowing is through movement. Murat Dalkilinç, a TED-Ed speaker and physical therapist based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, explains, “when you sit and slouch, your spine curves, cutting out space for your lungs to expand as you breathe. When that happens, you aren’t taking big, full breaths, and that reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the blood in your extremities. When that happens, oxygen doesn’t go to your brain, which leads to difficulty concentrating.”
Asking meeting participants to stand up and stretch can be awkward in some settings. Try these activities to incorporate movement while also pushing the conversation forward.
- Schedule 5 minute mini-breaks every hour in which you encourage participants to “take care” of themselves, whether it’s through stretching, using the restroom, checking email, or getting a snack. Resume the meeting after 5 minutes so that participants adhere to the time.
- Break into small groups for discussion but discourage sitting during that 10-15 minutes. Put flipcharts on the wall and ask participants to leave their chairs at the table.
- Go on a “gallery walk” by moving through the room to explore different content. For example, build off the small group standing breakouts by having each team report out while the full group gathers (standing) in front of their area.
- Put water, coffee and other refreshments on a side table, rather than on the meeting table. While it’s less convenient, even these short segments of movement can help wake up the body. Often, it only takes one person to get up for a refill and then others will follow their lead. (Healthy refreshments also impact the physical energy level, so go for nuts and fruit over donuts and soda). Establish a norm at the start of the meeting that encourages participants to self serve as needed.
Previous posts in this series:
About the Author
Mamie Kanfer Stewart is the founder and CEO of Meeteor, a meeting software that helps you leverage your meetings to drive productivity, build a healthy company culture, and achieve greater results. Mamie’s two young girls and her love of trapeze keep her active outside of work. Follow Mamie on Twitter @mamieks.
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