How much time do you spend in meetings? These days we have face to face meetings, conference calls, videoconferences and webinars, sometimes our diaries are back to back with meetings of various kinds. We all know that meetings can be mighty useful for working through challenges as long as they are managed constructively but how can we ensure that we have healthy meetings? Here are my top 10 tips:
- Where possible keep meetings short. Too much time sitting still is not good for our health.
- Short meetings with two or three people can be carried out on the move. Try walking and talking whenever the weather allows.
- Where keeping it short is not an option build in breaks and stick to them wherever possible. This will allow people to stretch their legs and get refreshments.
- If people vote to keep going rather than take a break so that they can get back to the office, go home earlier or catch more convenient trains and planes then make sure you have healthy snacks and drinks available. Let people know that it’s ok to eat/drink and work.
- Ensure the most senior people model the behaviours you are looking for. No one is going to go out for fresh air or eat a healthy snack if your executive team are drinking coffee with 3 or 4 biscuits whilst remaining seated for the whole break.
- During remote meetings build in breaks. Ask the Chair to actively encourage everyone to move around during the breaks and to have healthy snacks and drinks to hand. Consider having “top tips for healthy meetings” as a screen saver during breaks from webinars or videoconferences.
- Consider making an animation, video or display about healthy meetings. Test the material with your staff first as the last thing you want is to come across as condescending or controlling. Every workplace has its own culture so just find messages that fit your workforce.
- If you are offering breakfast, lunch or dinner during extended meetings then make sure you include healthy choices. So often meals at meetings are based on fatty fried foods like samosas and spring rolls. Offer high fibre carbohydrates such as wholemeal pasta, wholemeal cous cous, brown rice, jacket potatoes or wholemeal/wholegrain breads. Make sure there is steamed or grilled meat and/or fish on offer and plenty of vegetables. If you are offering a sweet course try a reduced sugar crumble made with wholemeal flour and oats or low fat, sugar free yogurt with fresh fruit.
- If you don’t have the budget for refreshments then make sure this is clear and let people know that you would like them to bring their own. People often worry that it might be considered rude or unprofessional. Make room in a fridge for people to store what they bring or if this is not possible have a few cool bags in the meeting room. You don’t want people going down with food poisoning
- If you are having a face to face meeting and you do have the budget for refreshments then make sure you offer low fat, low sugar drinks and healthy snacks packed with fibre and protein to keep people alert for longer. Here are a few ideas to get you started but encourage your team to come up with their own ideas too:
- Keep the water jug topped up with drinking water.
- Offer low fat milk (skimmed and semi-skimed if you can) for teas and coffees Have fresh fruit available but make sure it’s easy to eat. I’ve lost count of the number of meetings where all the apples (too loud and crunchy), oranges (to hard and messy to peel), peaches and nectarines (to much juice dripping down the chin and onto people’s clothes) have been left whilst everyone munches the biscuits. Some companies offer pre-cut fruit but of course you will lose lots of vitamins that way. Bananas, berries and grapes are easy choices.
- Unsalted nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats and protein and can be nibbled easily in a meeting (check no one has an allergy first!)
- Strips of wholemeal pitta, unsalted oatcakes and rice cakes and low fat dips like reduced fat hummus and salsa will help people feel fuller for longer.
If you would like help with healthy meetings for your workplace then please get in touch. Click the link for further information.