Here is why and how our meetings went from relatively inefficient to highly effective and enjoyable.
First, we came to understand how little we knew about our teammates’ backgrounds, our varying daily work routines, and the mindset each of us were bringing to the table at a meeting.
We realized that for meetings to be most effective, we need an effective container.
Inspired by our very own essence as a company that brings mindfulness to individuals and the workplace, we decided to set up a number of mindfulness-based rituals that would help ensure productive and enjoyable meetings.
“How could we turn this around to enable everyone to align quickly and smoothly on important decisions?”
We use four rituals that don’t take us more than five minutes to complete at the start of each meeting.
These meeting rituals allow us to reset and function as a team rather than start discussions in reactive mode. Mindfulness rituals not only help us reconnect to ourselves, they also create a space where our team can be present, align and listen to each other while building the kind of team spirit that helps us achieve our goals and relate to each other with kindness.
Here are the meeting rituals we put in place for our team:
Ritual #1 – Phones on charge so we can recharge
Right after saying hi to everyone, the first thing we do when we arrive at a team meeting is place our phones on a designated table away from the meeting table (this could be a good time to charge the phone if needed).
Even though someone may decide to “cheat” by checking messages on their laptop or smart watch, not having the phone there reminds each of us that we are accountable for being fully present for the entire meeting.
Not having the phone at hand enhances our physical connection and ability to remain present.
Ritual #2 – Two minutes seated in silence
We turn on a timer for two minutes and all sit in silence together. Some people take the opportunity to meditate, while others simply rest.
For those two minutes, we as a team share silence and a time-out. This gives us the space to reset and feel where everyone is at, by being together in silence.
Of course, two minutes is not enough to learn how to meditate, but you can definitely meditate for two minutes by focusing your attention on a single object! Starting small can be helpful.
Ritual #3 – Checking in
We then go once around the table to allow each person an open space to share what they feel in the moment. It could be just one word, or several sentences during which the others listen attentively with a non-judgmental attitude.
Checking in with each participant lays a human foundation for the rest of the meeting. People may have expressed some good news, or said that they felt overwhelmed, or mentioned that they were having issues at home. This helps us understand each other better as a team, knowing where each person is at. The quality of our interactions is greater because of this understanding.
Ritual #4 – Time, objectives and takeaways
Once we have completed the checking-in ritual, the person who called the meeting sets the objectives and lets us know where we expect to land at the end of the meeting. As a general rule, we make sure to start and end meetings on time and we close meetings by thanking everyone for their time and input. In that way, we make sure everyone’s presence is valued and everyone’s time is respected.
These rituals only take us a few minutes to complete and integrating them to our meeting routine has really been a game changer for our efficiency and enjoyment working together.
“Why not try whichever of these rituals make sense for your team? Let us know how it goes!”