4 Rules for Banishing Brain Boredom

Brain Research Support for UN-Boring Meetings

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings

Dr. John Medina’s ground-breaking research about how the brain works has a lot to tell us about how to hold more engaging meetings.

A Seattle-based developmental molecular biologist, Dr. Medina has written “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School,” an engaging, real-world look at how to make the most of our minds.

To help you apply his research to more effective business meetings, we summarize here four key points from Dr. Medina’s efforts:

  1. IN PURSUIT OF THE UN-BORING: Dr. Medina’s findings reinforce—with science—what we all instinctually know every time we try to endure a dull, mind-numbing meeting: “The brain does not like boring things,” he says. And when the brain tunes out, or when we’re tired and stressed (all of which are often true at work and at meetings!), we don’t engage. We don’t learn. And we don’t participate….all crucial elements of successful meetings. So, what’s a way to alleviate the UnBoring Meeting? That brings us to #2…
  2. YOU HAVE NINE MINUTES TO CHANGE. It seems we all have some level of Attention Deficit Disorder. Dr. Medina’s data show that after only about 9 minutes, our brains start losing their capacity to pay attention. The antidote? Inject new material into your meeting every 10 minutes or so…to connect information and facts to something more emotional or inspirational. Perhaps in the form of story…or an interactive exercise…to re-invigorate dulling brains. But only if you want people to remember and be engaged.
  3. EXERCISE MAKES YOU SMARTER. When we picture meetings, we likely imagine a sea of people with butts in their seats. Yet according to Dr. Medina, exercise—and movement—ensure that what we are learning is actually moving from short- to long-term memory. His findings make a clear case for Walking Meetings. Or at least for building in more opportunity for people to talk, move and connect, even during formal gatherings.
  4. REPEAT TO REMEMBER. REPEAT TO REMEMBER. Whether your meeting is for all 500 employees or just your immediate team of 5 colleagues, every brain requires that key material is repeated. Common sense, right? Dr. Medina’s research adds a specific, measurable Rule: the information you want your people to remember and apply most is best repeated within just TWO hours of their first exposure to it. So, it’s not overdoing it to revisit 10am keynote content over lunch, for example. Reiterating it the next day or even worse, next month, means you may as well…forget it!

Additional resources:

Dr. Medina’s interactive website:

Seattle Times article on Brain Rules:

No More Boring Meetings
206-783-MEET (6338)
Seattle, WA