There are good meetings and there are bad meetings. I’ve been in and led both kinds. I once attended a webinar lecture that was definitely a ‘good’ meeting. The facilitator used a technique that leaders can use to increase attention and retention in their leadership training meetings. Here’s what she did in that training meeting that you can try to improve yours.
First, some background about my state of mind as the meeting began. Drowsy from a poor night’s sleep and in a brain fog because of too many carbs for lunch, I forced myself to log in for my class. Had I been given a choice, I would have taken a nap instead. My attention level was low. However, the professor used several simple techniques to rouse my attention. As a result, I learned a lot from the lecture.
On one power point slide she printed a single URL. She cued up the slide in this way. She said we were about to do an exercise that required us to focus for 30 seconds on people in the video who wore white shirts and were throwing a ball to each other. We were to count the number of times they passed the ball. She also commented that most people’s attention span lasts only 12 seconds.
Immediately part of my brain alerted other parts to pay attention because something was about to happen. These internal dynamics helped elevate my attention with a shot of norepinephrine, a brain chemical related to adrenalin. In this 30 second exercise she literally used 6 techniques that woke me and helped me learn better.
- Curiosity: The exercise woke up the part of my brain that is drawn to novelty. Novel things get our attention more easily than common things.
- Challenge: I was drawn into the lecture by the prospect of competition with others and with myself. I now wanted to learn.
- Motivation: The 12-second rule motivated me. I thought to myself, I know I can pay attention longer than that.
- Relevance: Related to the challenge, not only was I good with numbers but the exercise was relevant to the current topic about attention.
- Anticipation: In anticipation I sat up in my chair, opened my eyes wider, and felt my heart rate elevate.
- Satisfaction: After the exercise, I felt good because I had beaten the odds and gotten the right answer. This good feeling was due to the increase of another neurotransmitter, dopamine, which makes us feel good when it enters our brain’s pleasure center.
The next time you schedule a leadership meeting, try to use several of these simple techniques to increase attention and thus improve learning.
What techniques have you tried that have helped enhance your leadership meetings?