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Adopt these 3 powerful features of brain-friendly meetings

Liz Guthridge Posted by Liz Guthridge, Managing Director, Connect Consulting Group.

Liz Guthridge is a coach, consultant and facilitator who helps leaders turn their blue-sky ideas into greener-pasture actions. She uses applied neuroscience, behavior design and mindful communications. 


Brain-friendly meetings are invigorating for participants, presenters and facilitators alike.

Brain-friendly meetings are invigorating for participants, presenters and facilitators alike.

Don’t take my word for it.

Read these online survey write-in comments from participants after their day-long, brain-friendly BIZcamp at the Charleston Digital Corridor, which I recently designed and facilitated:

“Enjoyed the content and engagement with the other participants.”

“Actionable content presented in a very digestible manner.”

“Provided the participants, presenters and facilitators (a way) to freely share experiences and ideas during engaged discussions.”

The purpose of this particular meeting was to support tech start-up leaders so they could get actionable ideas around key business fundamentals to apply immediately to their business. Think legal, finance, HR, sales and branding. As a result, they could add more value, improve their effectiveness, and increase their efficiency.

In brain-friendly meetings, the learning environment and experience are enjoyable and memorable. This helps people remember and recall what they learned so can they start to apply their “discoveries” immediately after the meeting.

Three features of the meeting design contributed to the participants’ positive reactions:

1. Specific role for the presenters. Each of the presenters served more as a “guide by your side” than a “sage on the stage.” This meant each presenter carefully curated what topics to cover and tips to share rather than doing a data dump of their knowledge. In other words, they focused on the “must do’s” and “must avoid’s” when you’re short of time and resources, and interjected real world examples of others who didn’t always follow their advice. With this orientation, participants get a helpful roadmap they can follow rather than a vast encyclopedia they place on a shelf.

2. Agenda time allotted to talking and interacting with peers as well as presenters. For each presenter, we had time set aside for questions and answers. Then we also built in time for the participants to query, discuss and validate issues with other participants. This peer-to-peer learning was helpful, especially since everyone had industry and business experience to share. Plus, we asked participants to move around the room so they could interact with others.

3. Agenda time to plan what actions to take after the meeting. We reserved time at the end of the meeting for participants to consider on their own what actions they wanted to take immediately based on their meeting experience. Then to help them determine whether these were the most appropriate actions to do, I asked them to ask themselves the following three questions for each action on a 10-point scale with “1” being low and “10” being high:

  • How likely will this action drive you and your business forward to meet your goals?
  • How likely are you to take this action?
  • How easy will it be for you to take this action?

(Those questions and ratings caused some of the participants to stop and question what they were committing to. With my suggestion to tweak anything with a score of “7” or lower, some participants reworked their actions.)

With these meeting features and others, participants can leave an all-day meeting in as good as or even better shape than they arrived – energized not drained, cheerful not cranky, and committed to take specific actions not deliberating over still half-baked ideas.

That makes the meeting a more positive experience that they’re likely to remember better. That helps them then apply their learnings, which means their investment in the meeting registration fee and time has a better return.

For more ideas on how you can make your meetings brain-friendly, check out these two blog posts: 5 actions to make the most of face-to-face conferences and Improve your meetings this year and crow with joy.

How can I help you adopt these features to make your meetings brain-friendly?