Millennials, Mindfulness, and Meetings

By: Diana Faison
Diana W. Faison, M.EdWhat do you wish all millennials knew about meetings?  I was asked this in response to our firm’s article recently published in Harvard Business Review discussing why meetings matter.  After pondering this for a moment, I replied, “Preparation leads to confidence.”  This is something I’ve found missing for women and realized millennials need help with this notion as well.  After I left the conversation and returned to my work I wondered, what prevents us all (men, women, boomers, and millennials alike) from preparation?  Is it time constraints?  Is it our constant array of distractions?  Is it a combination of both?

I believe it is the latter; it’s both.  Too many of us work just up until time for the meeting and go in only to find we are unprepared to engage in the topic, let alone contribute.   Millennials and some boomers may have a contributor to the mental absence – technology.  We have become so distracted by phone messages and alerts that we run out of time to prepare, and while in the meeting become such that we are not fully present.  How can we avoid this seemingly inevitable distraction?  Put down and step away from the phone.

My daughter, a millennial, shared a trick.  She leaves her cell phone hidden at work.  Even in social settings her friends will now place all cell phones in the middle of the closest table, face down hoping the allure will subside.  Then and only then do they have the ability to really focus on their interactions with others.  While she felt like an appendage was missing initially, she eventually felt more free and in the moment.

So then, if we prepare more intentionally and if we leave our distractions elsewhere, I wonder what will happen to our level of preparation.  I wonder what will happen to our ability to focus.  We might look, and feel, confident and present.  Meetings matter more than we think, and how we show up in them matters most.  I challenge you to show up fully present next time, before and during the meeting.  I might even challenge you to try it outside of the office.  You may find that presence is what’s been missing.