no script

The phone is ringing. E-mails are coming in. Facebook says “Bing!”. Twitter tweets. LinkedIn has new job opportunities for me. It just might drive me insane. What do I have to do to get just a few minutes of peace and quiet?

Does that sound familiar? That’s often my day. Many changing tasks means there’s many people who want to get in contact with me and many things I have to conciser.

Recently someone advised me to use silence actively in meetings and that’s why I thought it might not be that crazy. My conclusion after trying it in several meetings is: Try it! You won’t regret it. 

When do I use silence?

In general I use silence to give all the participants in the meeting a bit of quiet time. Quiet time to think, to feel and to calm down. In other words silence gives a bit of quiet time to our busy brain. Silence is a welcome change in our busy working day with a lot of impressions. And a changes in a meeting will give energy, excitement and life – in my experience.

About the author

Birte Laursen is a process consultant and agile coach.

She owns Birte Laursen Cunsultations. On her Retrospectives.dk she posts blog posts, podcasts and more about Scrum and agility. 

I’ve used silence to start the meeting. It might be a meeting where the purpose is to air out frustrations. They might be in silence and writing down their frustrations on paper. That then gives them an opportunity to take some time to find out what’s actually the problem and making them frustrated.

I’ve used silence for brain storming. Participants sit in silence for 2-3 minutes and write down their thoughts on post-its. One thought or idea on each post-it. Afterwards they can compare post-its and talk about thoughts and ideas.

It might also be used at a midway reflection. With a couple of minutes silence you can stop and reflect how far you’ve come in the meeting. It also enables you to gather your thoughts and perhaps look at things in a different way.

Silence is also good as an ending. When the record is on the board the participants might use 2 minutes on looking it though before leaving in different directions.

Why do I use silence?

My experience tells me that silence makes the meetings more efficient and the results more concrete. Silence makes it possible to stop and change directions. Sometimes meetings can go into overdrive where it’s more about getting heard than reaching a decision or result. A couple of minutes silence is usually enough to stop the overdrive and get the meeting back on track.

What’s so special about silence?

First and foremost silence makes meetings more calm. A busy working day calmness is often hard to come by. Silence might therefore provide the only quiet time the participants in the meeting will have that day.

Silence also might calm down a place where there was a discussion before. Discussions help bring meetings closer  to conclusions and results, but also might need a break. Silence will provide that break.

In turn silence also gives time for reflections. When everything’s quiet our brain automatically starts reflecting. New thoughts appear and old ideas fade out. That’s only possible in silence.

Do you want to try silence?

Next time you are at a meeting suggest taking two minutes silence when you’ve looked though the agenda and are ready to go. The two minutes gives time to think about other points to the agenda and what they expect from the meeting. When everyone has thought about it you are ready to discuss and therefore have a shared direction of the meeting.

If this sounds too strange and like something you might not be able to incorporate naturally then contact us. We are ready to help getting onward and using silence in your meetings.