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He's not the only one. So is there a trick to stopping those eyelids from suddenly feeling so, so heavy? Meeting-induced sleepiness - it happens to the best of us.
Mr Ross is the latest politician to be criticised for being reportedly unable to "stop falling asleep in meetings" at his department, according to Politico. But his staff denied his focus was so erratic that long meetings were avoided.
So how can you avoid the tempting pull of sleep during your next meeting - and how might you keep everyone awake the next time you have to lead one? Elise Keith, founder of Lucid Meetings, a US-based meeting coaching company, says that while time preferences may vary among individuals, research indicates that some periods may be better for achieving certain goals.
When impressing people is important - like status updates, sales demos, interviews - the morning, "when sharpness and enthusiasm are at their height", is best. And of course, never do meetings in the "dead zone" period - right after lunch. UK-based author and workplace culture expert Judi James, however, says the exact time "matters less than we think" and ensuring a meeting has a clearly stated end time is more important. While some sessions must take place wherever the work can get done, meeting in unconventional locations can help boost creativity.
Standing meetings - where, as the name suggests, participants talk without sitting down - have also been praised by many efficiency experts for keeping things efficient. Ms Keith suggests walking meetings or spaces outside for more creative sessions. Ensuring a clear agenda is a common piece of advice from productivity gurus. Annette Catino, a healthcare executive and entrepreneur, told the New York Times an agenda was essential, "because if I don't know why we're in the meeting, and you don't know why we're there, then there's no reason for a meeting".
And if you're not certain who should be there? Make the meetings optional and see who shows, Ms Keith suggests. Ms James recommends standing up from your desk every half-hour or to stretch and "invigorate" yourself throughout the day. While Ms James suggests turning down hot drinks or carb-heavy snacks before a meeting if you are prone to drowsiness, Ms Keith says the right kind of snacks can help improve meeting culture.
Snacks can keep people alert, for one thing, but are also a "symbol of caring" in many cultures. Why not show the people there that they are cared for, they belong, their wellbeing is something that matters to you?
Of course, avoiding loud or smelly snacks is important, as is being mindful of participants' dietary restrictions. Putting it simply - you can't fall asleep if you're participating.
Ms James also suggests making active body language contributions - "noduse eye contact, and non-verbal responses to what you hear". Taking notes can also be helpful in keeping your brain alert. You can help other people be heard and ask questions. For leaders, Ms James says make sure to adhere to the agenda and only the agenda - tacking on "other business", she warns, is "when the bores kick off". Ms Keith's fidgeting tool of choice is a pipe cleaner - simple, and quiet, if a little odd. Doodling is another longstanding go-to for bored meeting goers, but Ms James says it can make you even more drowsy.
Sometimes, it may just take a pinch on your own arm instead, she adds. Both Ms James and Ms Keith agree, if you succumb to sleep, it may be best to leave.
And if you notice a colleague drifting off, only nudge them awake if you are friends. And after any such meeting, Ms Keith emphasises the importance of providing honest feedback. Reporting by Ritu Prasad. Whenever I feel I am beginning to doze in meetings, I immediately imagine my worst fear, which, for me, is being trapped in rubble after an earthquake. The adrenaline rush wakes me immediately. Old lawyer trick - lift one foot off the ground and you cannot fall asleep.
Works when driving as well. Dan Todd, Tennessee, US. Eat Chinese salty plums. Really make you sit up and take notice.
Judith Clark, Massachusetts, US. Drinking sips of water, I find, helps. Also chewing gum. I find it impossible to sleep whilst chewing! Andrew Halley, Cambridge, UK. My motto on meeting is: time limited and short. Staff have just two minutes or less to talk and I ask for bullet points They only need to report on an exceptional issue, not what they are doing as part of their job Lastly, keeping to a small group is the most productive way to go.
Subrat Das, Bamako, Mali. If this happens to me I always say 'amen' upon waking, so that I can say I was praying and not sleeping. Grant H, Idaho, US. How to nap successfully at work. Why I hate meetings - and how to make them better.
How to take the perfect nap. The right time Be prepared. Stay alert throughout the day.
How to nap successfully at work How long is the ideal nap? To snack or not to snack? Fidget away. When all else fails, keeping your hands busy can help. And if you do happen to nod off? Here is a selection of your comments:.
Related Topics. More on this story. Published 10 January Published 23 October Published 8 MarchAwake need some company
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What's the best way to stay awake in meetings?