Meetings: The Whole Business-Person

June 19, 2012

In teaching there’s this philosophy called the Whole Student Approach, which in my book is pretty relevant to the average business meeting.

It’s easy, in both the classroom and the boardroom, to treat your co-workers or employees like talking brains. However easy it is, though, it isn't the most effective way to go about things.

So, on the topic of dynamic meetings, it seems to me that the WSA (Whole Student Approach) could easily be translated into the WBA (Whole Business-Person Approach). With this tactic, the facilitator would be concerned about the emotional, social, physical and mental state of the folks attending the meeting. Catering to these aspects of the human makeup include:

Emotional: giving attendees “office hours” or perhaps encouraging them to email you concerning post-meeting feedback. This clearly demonstrates you value their feelings and opinions and opens up the door to act on their feedback to max out the good and prune out the bad.

Social: allowing the attendees a few moments before the meeting to chat amongst themselves and allowing them to voice their opinions throughout the meeting can satiate the social hunger in most of us. This is a tricky area, however, and the group really needs to be felt out in order to see what works, as iebreakers can be fantastic in some meetings and painfully awkward in others.

Physical: getting attendees out of their chairs or giving them something to keep their hands busy. Some CEOs swear by the walks they take during meetings. They just head out on a 15 or so minute trek, the attendees all trailing behind them as they discuss the day’s agenda. Others tout the success of assigning a note-taker. A different person is chosen to scrawl out the main points for each meeting, and then they are that much more engaged. Other ways to keep the attendees in good physical meeting shape would be to provide snacks, use engaging visuals and keep things auditorily interesting.

Mental: recognizing that all three previous aspects contribute to the mental state of the attendees radically changes how one should approach meetings. The floating brain idea is not relevant. An uncomfortable chair can completely distract an attendee, or an empty stomach, a bad mood, social troubles, etc. On the other hand, a refreshing walk can put them in the right state of mind, along with a little brain food, some uplifting interaction and lighthearted team-building exercises.

The Whole Business-Person Approach is both a state of mind and a plan of attack. Just being aware of how an entire person can be affected by one small aspect of their life (positively or negatively) is the first step towards facilitating more dynamic meetings.

Tune in next week to read up on Meetings: 15 Minute Magic. Until then, keep it wholesome, folks.

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