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Raise your hand if you’ve been in an all-day off-site or leadership meeting that was stuffed TOO full of content and your Brain…



Earlier this week, I shared a Harvard Business Review article about maximizing the hybrid approach to use the time in the office in meaningful, intentional ways by structuring the days as “on-sites.”

I am 100% in support of that approach.

I also worry about it over-rotating. Of leaders thinking there is SO much that needs to be done in a short period of time and WE MUST FIT IT ALL IN.

For a number of years in my early career, I specialized in instructional design. I’ve used that experience to inform how I design leadership meetings and off-sites.

Every time I do this work, I give the same guidance, an analogy I started to use years ago based on adult pedagogy:

  • The human brain is like a cup that you’re filling with water. At some point the cup is full. 
  • You can keep pouring in water, but it’s not all going to stay in the cup.
  • The cup will overflow.
  • And you have NO control over what molecules of water stay in the cup, and what molecules overflow and make a mess on the counter.

Let’s apply that to these meetings. The adult human brain can take in about 6 hours of learning and content–and that’s WITH interactivity and engagement. If death by PowerPoint, it’s even less.

More hours than that and you’re just overfilling the brain. And you can’t control what knowledge stays in and what … doesn’t.

When your brain shuts down | 110 West Group | Cynthia Farrell

I always encourage leaders to err on the side of less is more. Do less, and the time you spend will be better retained and have more impact. 

But if I’m being honest, I can count on my two hands the number of times my counsel has been taken. The mentality is “We only have them together for this short time and we need to tell them ALL THE THINGS or we aren’t using our time well. We can’t do 6 hours! We must do… 9!!!”

Of course, “all the things” won’t be remembered, you can’t control what is/isn’t retained, and the investment is not as beneficial as it could be with LESS TIME.

As you’re planning 2022 and those hybrid on-sites or an off-site, maximize your investment. That doesn’t mean maximizing your time–it means using less time more wisely.

Need help doing that? I love designing and facilitating impactful and engaging leadership meetings. Reach out and let’s chat.

Have you been in one of these LOOOONG meetings where your brain shut down? Feel free to comment!

#leadership #teamdevelopment #leadershipdevelopment #leadershipjourney

Cover photo by Zac Harris on Unsplash

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