You can only do one thing at a time. Despite your desire to multitask, you can only do one thing well at a time. Think distracted driving. Instead of enforcing an arbitrary ground rule like no cell phones, share this lesson from neuroscience with meeting participants. Then ask the group to discuss what they are willing to do to make sure they are task-focused when they meet.
Doing a new and different task burns lots of energy. When your meeting requires the group to do a non-routine task, for example create a strategic plan or address a complex business issue, make sure you build in “time outs” where people can replenish their energy. Healthy snacks help, too.
Creating visuals for highly complex ideas helps the brain process information. “Death by PowerPoint” occurs when you are forced to look at 50 PPTs, all prepared in small fonts, and in a language that only the presenter understands. The brain thinks in images. Present complex information in graphical form rather than bulleted lists.
Your brain needs to be stimulated to perform. Is your meeting meaningful to the participants? Does it provide a challenge? Will participants learn something new? Do they know their voice counts? Your answers to these questions provide you with ways to stimulate the meeting participant’s brains.
Insights occur when you let the brain go idle. There is a reason you get great ideas in the shower or while taking a walk. Your brain has been working in the background while you are doing something else. If your group is stuck (or even if it’s not stuck), periodically walk away from the problem. Do something that is unrelated. It can be as simple as walking down the hall, having lunch, or coming back to the problem the next day. You’ll be surprised how many new insights will occur.