Meeting Breaks & 8 Reasons You Need One

Leverage meeting breaks to improve mental and physical health while levelling up your productivity and concentration.

Meeting breaks are often underutilized as many people don’t realize the benefits or may not even know that they’re an option. In a world of jammed calendars and back-to-back meetings, it’s now more important than ever to leverage tactics that may make meetings a little less daunting. Implementing meeting breaks is a great way to reduce stress, increase meeting engagement, boost productivity, and improve collaboration. In addition, providing meeting breaks gives your teammates the opportunity to recharge and get focused before the next leg of the meeting. 

What is a meeting break?

A meeting break is a short yet effective break that employees can use to decompress and realign. There are a variety of reasons a meeting break may be necessary, including Zoom fatigue, disengagement, exhaustion, a lengthy meeting, or even a conflict of disagreement. As the host, it’s your job to read the room and determine whether or not a meeting break is necessary. If you notice attendees aren’t attentive or a discussion is bubbling into an explosion, it may be best to pause the meeting and take a break. Meeting breaks provide attendees with the opportunity to re-energize and decompress. A ten- or fifteen-minute break may be all your teammates need to get focused and back on track.

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How often should you have meeting breaks?

Determining how often you should have meeting breaks is completely up to you as the host. While it’s recommended that you implement a ten- or fifteen-minute break roughly every hour, the number of meeting breaks your team needs may vary based on numerous factors. What’s most important is that you remain attentive to your teammates’ needs so you can intuitively decide what is best for everyone. 

8 reasons you should take meeting breaks

1Reduce stress

Meetings can be stressful, especially if a meeting lasts for a long amount of time or things heat up during a brainstorming session. If you notice that your teammates seem tense or hesitant to participate due to a hostile working environment, it may be time to take a break and reconvene when everyone has had the time to realign and process their emotions. 

Implementing a meeting break will allow everyone to step away from the environment to destress. They can take some time to work on a pressing task, grab a snack, hydrate, or even get up and stretch! What’s most important is that they do what feels best for them in the moment. Destressing looks different for everyone, and it’s important that you provide your teammates with the opportunity to unwind when necessary. 

2Increase meeting engagement in future meetings

There’s nothing worse than hosting a meeting that leaves everyone feeling drained. If you’re in charge of hosting, you should plan your meeting accordingly and factor in meeting breaks. If your teammates know that you plan to factor in breaks, they may be more inclined to participate when the meeting is active. Not only will this tactic be beneficial for the meeting at hand, but it will also help set the stage for future meetings. 

3Help prevent burnout 

Burnout reduces productivity and sucks all of your energy. Employees who suffer from burnout report feeling helpless, hopeless, unmotivated, and exhausted, in addition to feeling like they can’t possibly contribute any more to the company. Those who suffer from a serious case of burnout at work report the condition spilling over into other areas of their lives. In addition to suffering at work, burnt out employees may see their personal and social lives affected as well. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to burnout, but implementing frequent meeting breaks may help eliminate the risk. Meeting breaks will provide your teammates with the time they need to recharge and fuel up before the next portion of the meeting. 

4Allow time for reflection 

There are a variety of reasons your teammates may need to reflect during a meeting. There may have been a conflict that led to a hostile line of conversation, there may have been a major information dump that requires them to learn and process new information, or they may simply be required to lead the next section of the meeting and require some extra time to prepare. No matter the reason, your teammates will not be able to reflect while remaining attentive if you don’t plan to implement meeting breaks. 

5Boost productivity 

If your teammates are feeling burnt out or drained, there’s no way they’ll be able to work efficiently. Implementing frequent meeting breaks as needed is a great way to re-energize everyone so your team can work together more productively. A productive team that works collaboratively will be able to work more strategically towards achieving shared goals and objectives. Implementing meeting breaks is a quick and easy way to liven everyone up and in turn, boost productivity. 

6Encourage motivation 

If your teammates or direct reports aren’t rewarded for their participation, they may not feel inclined or motivated to participate effectively in upcoming meetings. Rewarding their positive behavior during meetings will help them stay on track and motivated for future meetings. Finding ways to increase motivation is crucial as motivation helps to encourage creativity, collaboration, skill development, and engagement. 

7Improve attention span 

It’s no secret that our attention spans are dwindling. We’re constantly being bombarded by distractions, and a lengthy meeting with no breaks may be exactly what pushes someone on your team over the edge. If you want your team to be engaged, you’ll want to give them time to clear their heads and realign. You won’t be able to have meaningful conversations with ample participation if you don’t give your teammates the opportunity to reset from time to time. 

8Provide time to recharge

No one was built to stare at a screen all day, and the same thing can be said about sitting in a meeting for hours on end. Providing your teammates or direct reports with meeting breaks that can be leveraged to recharge shows that you value their time and energy. Sometimes all your teammates need to refocus is a quick break that allows them to use the washroom, stand up, stretch, grab a snack, or hydrate. 

Tips for having an effective meeting break 

1Add the break to the meeting agenda

To make sure your teammates are aware of the meeting breaks, you’ll want to make sure the breaks are added to the meeting agenda. Adding the time of the breaks to the meeting agenda will also ensure that your teammates stay motivated and have something to look forward to. 

2Give attendees the choice to leave the meeting and rejoin or turn cameras off 

Zoom fatigue is real and if you aren’t eliminating meetings, you have to take other precautionary steps to make sure your teammates are prioritizing their mental health. If you can’t cancel or postpone a meeting, remind your teammates that they have the freedom to leave if they feel inclined. Additionally, make it known that cameras are optional, so your teammates know they have the freedom to do what makes them feel most comfortable. 

3Ask for meeting feedback afterward

Meeting feedback is a gift, and as the meeting host, you won’t be able to make iterations or improvements that appeal to your teammates if you don’t take the time to seek their feedback. To learn more about your teammates’ preferences when it comes to meeting breaks, you should take the time to get their feedback. Luckily, Fellow’s feedback features make collecting valuable feedback easier than ever. 

Implement meeting breaks to improve concentration and participation

The perks of meeting breaks are bountiful, and if you haven’t already implemented them, you’re missing out on major benefits! Implementing meeting breaks is a quick and easy way to energize your teammates while boosting productivity and efficiency. If you haven’t already started implementing meeting breaks, now’s your time! The pros far outweigh the cons, and your teammates will be thanking you in no time. 

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About the author

Hannah Ross

Hannah is an experienced content creator and digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working with startups, small business owners, and large organizations. Presently, Hannah serves as the Founder at Flamingo Social where she strives to create impactful organic content marketing strategies that help founders tell inspiring stories.

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