Do you find your mind wandering in long meetings? Could you do with a little more concentration and focus?

In my experience most people could, and they’d benefit from a boost in this area, so I spoke to profitable growth expert Hilary Briggs from R2P Ltd and asked for her top tips to help build our concentration and focus in long meetings;

1) Prepare in advance. No secret here – but how often do you actually take the time to prepare a detailed agenda for the meeting – and think through all the points you want to raise?

2) Take notes. Depending on the situation, you might be able to have someone else take notes for you. Assuming in the worst case scenario there isn’t, the more comprehensive, yet concise you can make your notes the better. A process I’ve been using for the last 18 months and would highly recommend is SmartWisdom ( It’s described as advanced note taking – personally I’d call it mind mapping on steroids.

3) Take breaks and do remember to eat! If I’m running a long meeting I’d never go for more than 1 ½ hours without a break. Because people often haven’t planned properly, they’ve not thought about any food requirements and hope that the meeting will wrap up soon. This might mean you end up at 3pm, with people who’ve not had anything to eat or drink. There’s then what kind of food; typical lunch menus for meetings are often the things that will kill concentration – lots of bread/sugary snacks/crisps and soft drinks. If you’re worried about the cost of having something more healthier such as salads or sushi – work out the costs of having the people there and the impact of the decisions you’re expecting them to take and put it in perspective. I’ve got the nick name “squirrel” with some clients as I’ve always got a supply of almonds with me!

4) Train your mind. I maybe fortunate in that some of my hobbies help develop concentration over several hours. For instance whilst playing the cello, I’m frequently playing with others for 4 hours of more with only one break – and concentrating hard as I’m often going through music for the first time. Or in Toastmasters International meetings (, I maybe called upon to review a two hour meeting and need to have been paying attention throughout. What hobbies do you have – or could you have – that could be used to develop your concentration?

5) Build your physical stamina. Some of the most challenging situations I’ve found can be meetings abroad. You’ve probably had to get up at the crack of dawn (or arrived late the night before after a long day), and are either having to speak in a foreign language, or at least working with others who are – and whose English may not be 100% - meaning you’ve got to work harder to understand them. I’d assert that if you’ve got good physical stamina, you stand a better chance of performing in these types of situation. So are you up for activities such as triathlons, long hikes, or dancing to boost your stamina?

Author's Bio: 

Hilary Briggs is a profitable growth expert, with over 25 years of experience having held senior management positions at Rover Group, Whirlpool Corporation and The Laird Group plc. Hilary is Managing Director of profitability specialists R2P Ltd.

Chantal Cooke is an award winning journalist and founder of PASSION for the PLANET radio.