Is Your Meeting Being Kidnapped?

Kidnapped—at the Meeting

1) You pretend to be listening, but the mind has a tendency to wander.

2) Why does everyone at this meeting, you wonder, have such enormous water bottles? How long is this meeting going to last?

3) In the middle of slide #7, you start thinking about your To-Do list.

4) Re your To-Do list: It's impressive, really, how many things you're not doing.

5) Chocolate donuts! The ones on the table look tasty. But wait, you're on a diet. Oh, who cares.

6) Focus, focus, focus. Good.

7) Right now, you're extremely focused on the word, focus.

8) Oh look, a tweet: "A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, according to Herbert Simon."

9) Who's Herbert Simon?

10) You've heard rumors—the company is about to be re-organized, or downsized, or sold, or something. How will that affect you?

11) Time for another donut.

12) Why are you even at this meeting? you wonder. And who's that person over there? Is that Herbert Simon?

13) By slide #82, you contemplate whether it's too late to go to law school.

Tip: Attention. It's the key problem of every meeting, whether you're talking to one person or a thousand.

When you speak, focus on your main message. Focus on your key points. But focus, mainly, on your audience. Because it's not what you say—it's what they hear.

p.s. Herbert Simon was a Nobel Prize winning economist, and one of the first to talk about the attention economy.

More Executive Strategies on To Find A Job NowBest American CEOs of All TimeExecutive Career Strategies

Consultant, author, speaker, and founder of express potential® (, Paul Hellman has worked with CEOs, executives, and managers at leading companies for over 25 years to improve performance and productivity at work. His latest book is “Naked at Work: How to Stay Sane When Your Job Drives You Crazy,” and his columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other leading papers.

Comments? Send them to