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10 Nov

How boredom kills us—in body, mind and spirit—and what to do about it

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster A podcast on the tedium of boredom produced by Public Radio International delves into the subject of boredom in a decidedly un-boring, substantial way. Let’s explore the piece, along with related compelling research, to see how being “bored to death” isn’t just a euphemism. And discuss what to do about it. How boredom can destroy us: • It’s easy to think of boredom as a lack of stress and stimulation. Yet in a study at the University of Waterloo, researchers showed that boredom is actually a state of stress — levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in fact rose after boredom was induced. (Who knew?!) • We sometimes use the expression “I’m bored to death,” whether in a meeting or not. It’s meant to be an overstatement, but in 2010, researchers at University College London studied questionnaires completed by 7,524 civil servants in the late 1980s who were between the ages of 35 to 55. Those who noted higher degrees of boredom were more likely to have died upon a follow-up than those who had not reported feeling bored. • Furthermore, boredom is damaging to our integrity — it crushes our souls as we…

26 Oct

When “Perfect” isn’t Perfect

Guest Blog by No More Boring Meetings’ Speaker-Partner Allison Clarke. Are you willing to engage in an experiment with me? It might seem silly, yet I promise there’s a purpose. I’ve been noticing lately how everyone uses the word PERFECT. For instance, when I ordered a drink at Starbucks, the cashier replied, “perfect.” After confirming my reservation at a hotel, the front desk said, “perfect.” When my friend and I set a meeting date for coffee, she celebrated with a “perfect!” Why is this such a hot and overused word? I bet that if you counted how many times you heard it, it could be well over 25 times per day. Now, there’s certainly nothing harmful or wrong with this word. I’m simply questioning if it’s the most appropriate choice. When I looked up the definition of perfect, it said: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. Hmm, are we really as good as we can possibly be? Does any situation have ALL the desirable elements? Are we projecting a sense of perfection onto each other? I’m a big fan of being positive, as you know, but the word…

03 Aug

Take one (or more) for the team: 5 group activities that build trust, commitment & accountability

        By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, copyright 2018 No More Boring Meetings In his bestseller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni describes five primary reasons teams fail. (To which some will say, only half-jokingly, “What, only five!?”) Using these dysfunctions as a framework, I’ll profile corresponding teambuilding exercises to turn that dysfunction into engaging, purposeful function. 1. Absence of Trust We know trust is the cornerstone of solid teams. Ropes courses are classic, often-used and perhaps now-tired ways to instill team trust. Want something fresh—and essentially free? Workshop leader Scott Crabtree uses a simple, powerful and fast method. He invites members of low-trust teams to present personal pecha kucha (the Japanese phrase for chatter) slide shows about their lives outside of work, so people connect as individuals. Ten image-only slides get just 10 seconds’ of one’s personal life story. Says Scott: “Keeping the presentations short preserves engagement and interest, and ensures everyone gets a turn. More than that, in this simple act of revealing our non-work selves, trust and vulnerability are built as we learn more about each other in 10 minutes than some do in 10 years.” 2. Fear of Conflict If…

08 Jun

Effective speakers shouldn’t do this, right?

        Have you noticed a strange trend in our speech patterns? It’s a common verbal tick that’s simply annoying in social settings, yet reputation diluting in professional settings. You’ve likely heard and unwittingly participated in this meme: YOU: “This work party is rad—open bar and everything!” YOUR COLLEAGUE: “I know, right?” It’s meant to be an innocent, fun-loving way to express agreement. And that’s fine in informal conversations. Yet I believe “I know, right?” has the same effect as “uptalk,” that annoying but common habit of raising our voices at the end of declarative sentences, making us sound unsure of ourselves. Linguists define it as “A speech pattern in which phrases and sentences habitually end with a rising sound, as if the statement were a question. Also known as upspeak or high-rising terminal (HRT).”  As in: “I am sure we’ll find a way to refrain from uptalking,” ending with a rising voice that turns a statement into a question and a confident person into an unsure one. I’ve been hearing the “I know, right?” along with the stand-alone, end-of-sentence, equally offending “…right?” pattern not just in “rad” social settings but—more alarmingly—in company training programs, on demo reels…

30 Apr

Top 10 Tips for Team Meetings: Boost Productivity & Professionalism

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster at No More Boring Meetings A version of this piece first appeared in the American City Business Journals London School of Economics and Harvard University researchers report that business leaders spend 60% of their time in meetings, and only 15% of their time working alone. As a busy professional, with the majority of your work time spent in groups, you can learn 10 easy ways to host and contribute to more productive team meetings: Be a know it all It’s natural to disengage when meeting content isn’t relevant. The most effective meeting hosts review all potential agenda segments to determine whether they apply to all attendees. If participants already know a particular content slice, then simply don’t cover that segment for the broader audience. Or if you have vastly different levels of awareness in the room, divide people accordingly to ensure maximum relevance for all. No problem? No meeting! We often meet habitually: the weekly project check-in, the monthly mandated. Yet many of these less-then-productive meetings can be canceled or shortened if we identify the problem the meeting is intended to solve. And if we can find no identifiable problem, then we don’t have…