A Simple Way to Make Meetings Mindful, Peaceful and Enjoyable

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Let’s ensure at least some people love meetings?

If you’re like most people who have meetings at work, this may sound familiar.

Meetings always never start on time because everyone else expects others to be late, and thus show up late themselves. You can’t blame anyone either because people have other important meetings (or so they say).

The meeting starts with status updates and “making sure everyone’s on the same page” — everything that could be done via email. By the time you’re done with that, most people are thinking about something else, checking their email or social media, or are simply daydreaming.

Inevitably you go past the ending time and decide to call another meeting to discuss the points left. You leave the meeting thinking of a hundred other productive ways you could’ve used your time.

If you’re thinking meetings are a waste of time, you’d be happy to know that you’re not alone. Studies show 67% of workers believe that excessive meetings keep them from getting their best work done.

About 6% of workers say they spend more than 10 hours per week attending unproductive meetings and calls, 15% say they waste between five and 10 hours each week, 34% say they wasted between two and five hours each week and 34% say they waste between one and two hours each week.

That’s a lot of unproductive time.

A Touch of Mindfulness…

The apparent reason for meetings being such time-wasters is simply the mindlessness of people invited or the person who called the meeting. We often call the meeting and then forget about it.

We don’t think about the agenda, outcome, or even question the need for the meeting itself. We invite people who have nothing to do with it and can easily avoid the meeting by reading the minutes later.

If you call an inconsequential meeting for an hour with 10 people present inside it, you’re not wasting 1 hour, but 10 hours.

Further, when we get into the meeting, we often react than respond. We let our emotions and thoughts cloud our understanding and prevent us from reaching a state of clarity.

Being mindful means letting go of all judgments, fears, emotions, and thoughts about the past of the future. “Be here now” is a simple mantra that signifies what mindfulness is about. And when this is applied to meetings and work relationships, it can do wonders.

Here’s how we can make meetings suck less using a touch of mindfulness.


Before you even enter a meeting — physical or virtual — take 2 minutes to check yourself. Notice how you’re feeling. Tired? Frustrated? Hungry? Angry?

Whatever it is, be aware of your emotions and try to let them go. This awareness gives you the opportunity to choose the mental state you want to be in during the meeting instead of letting your monkey mind do it for you.

If you come to a meeting from a place of curiosity, gratitude, and openness, it’ll be much different than if you’re trying to look good or wrap it up so you could get out of there.

Whether you’re the organizer or the attendee, you need to do this. Even if you’re late by a minute or two. The more you do this the easier it becomes. Gradually, you’ll be able to do it in a few seconds or even during the meeting to shift your mental state instantly.

Don’t think you can put up a false mask of emotions either because humans have strong detectors for that. You can’t hide your inner reality no matter how hard you try. So make a sincere effort to change and you’ll have a much better conversation.

Group Awareness

Most of us are spending our days rushing from one meeting to another. This frantic pace of work makes us more and more mindless. So instead of starting with idle chit-chat and then jumping into the meeting, take a few moments as a group to check yourself.

Encourage others, perhaps on a scale of 1–10, to identity how present they are. This will give them a chance to choose their mental state instead of being pulled into it unconsciously.

It’s also nice to allow people to be more present if they’re not feeling so. You can start with a few minutes of silence, deep breathing, or a short meditation depending upon the time you have.

This exercise alone will calm our feelings and give a clear focus to our minds. When people have more control over themselves they can think rationally and be better people in general.

Finally, doing this creates palpable energy of connectedness between all attendees. It greatly reduces the chances of emotional outbursts, personal attacks, or negative emotions in the meeting.

Define the Flow

Longer meetings often leave people thinking nothing but “When will this end?” This question arises due to a lack of knowledge and keeps poking their minds constantly.

To fix this, it’s better to define the flow and set the expectations right. With this, I know what to expect next and what my role is going to be in the meeting.

Recapitulate and Re-Check-In

Most meetings vanish into history as soon as it ends. Since everyone has been waiting for the meeting to end, they’re so glad to leave the room. However, it leaves people without clarity of what the next steps are.

If we don’t take action on what’s discussed, the meeting was or nothing. So you can do a quick recap of the actionable and ask everyone if they’re okay with it.

Sometimes, I get to know that a particular task was my responsibility just because it wasn’t made clear in the meeting itself. Now, I make sure to clearly define actionable for all people involved to get things done.

Recognize the Good

Even when things aren’t going well, be the first one to remind others of the good that has happened and then think about the solutions to problems. Meetings can easily turn into blame games where we do nothing but talk about who and what went wrong.

By constantly bringing others to a positive state of mind, you can prevent meetings from turning into the nightmare they often do.

Some other tips

Start and End on Time

People hate to start meetings late and then stay for later. Nothing makes us more frustrated than a meeting kicking off our whole schedule.

Avoid multi-tasking

We all have a lot of things on our plates. And we all want to save time. Thus, if a meeting’s not worth our full attention we start to multi-task. In this case, ask yourself — “Is the meeting really worth it?”

If it is, then set aside all other distractions. If it’s not, then you’re better off not coming in the first place.

Encourage Openness

Create an atmosphere for people to say what they really feel. They need to be able to say without thinking much about the consequences and others’ judgments.

Don’t Digress

Any topic that lies outside of the meeting agenda is parked for a later moment. Nothing irritates us more than if two people start talking about things that have nothing to do with the group.

Final Thoughts

A little mindfulness goes a long way. Bringing ourselves back to the present moment, even if it’s for a minute can completely shift the outcome of the meeting and the experience of the people involved.

When we connect with our own center, we’re able to connect with others through their center as well. This is the highest form of connection. A connection based not on shallow values and work obligations but one between two hearts.

Let’s take a moment every day to be cognizant of how we show up for and react in meetings. There’s hardly anyone who can completely eliminate meetings. So why not make the best out of them?

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Written on June 24, 2021