I go to a lot of meetings. A lot.
And before I moved to Richmond nearly 20 years ago, I planned meetings. I was the Director of Conferences and Meetings for a DC based association where I scheduled meetings from 20 member board meetings to five-day conferences for over 2,000 people.
I know what I’m talking about when I talk meetings.
And I know that, unlike many “leaders,” that the average person can pay attention for about 20 minutes (roughly the time of an average sitcom) before becoming restless.
At about 90 minutes the observant leader will note that attendees aren’t paying attention. They’re fiddling with papers, checking their email, nodding off. But they’re not paying attention to the important things you have to say.
Reality is the average butt and the average bladder were not designed to endure a three hour meeting without a break.
Had the Skipper and Gilligan stopped to let everybody pee the Minnow may not have been lost.
It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how many graduate degrees you may have, how many years of experience you have. If you don’t recognize that people need to get up and stretch, get a glass of water, use the restroom, get some air, then you’re really not an effective leader at all.
It doesn’t matter how important your discussion is or how much material you have to cover.
People. Need. Breaks.
What you’re missing by refusing to call a break is a more effective meeting. Ever hear about people going to bed to sleep on an idea?
Take a break. Walk away and come back. You’ll get more work done and likely produce a better product.
Cross posted at Historic Occasions.