Monday, August 23, 2010

Snapping Out of It

We could use a little more white space in our lives.

So says Juliet Funt, owner of Talking With Purpose Inc., although space was a bit of an issue at her presentation at the 2010 ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo in Los Angeles this week. When all the chairs in the session filled up, attendees lined up in the back, sat on the floor, and stood in the doorway and hall in order to hear Funt speak.

What was the big draw? First of all, Funt has a terrific presence. She's funny and down-to-earth, and tells great stories. And her topic, managing overwork and chronic stress, was one that everyone in the room seemed to relate to. If you sometimes feel like a hamster on a wheel trying to fit it all in, you are not alone.

Funt, the daughter of "Candid Camera" creator Allen Funt, also gave the audience practical tips for reclaiming their lives -- and their meetings -- from overload: Answer e-mail five times a day, not around the clock. Resist the impulse to grab your phone when you get a spare moment, and actually look at people around you. Put your cellphone in the glove box when you drive. Draw some boundaries by countering requests with your own request to take a day to think it over.

And she suggested ways that meeting planners could give attendees a little more space, too.
Why not schedule a session with no agenda, and fill it up with what usually goes unsaid, or is talked about only in the hallways? And, please, what about longer breaks? Funt chided meeting organizers who force attendees into "Sophie's Choice" decisions: "Do I pee or do I get the cookie?"

I filled three pages with scribbled notes, including Funt's suggestions for time-management resources, including David Allen's "Getting Things Done," and Laura Stack's "Leave the Office Earlier."

But it was her conclusion that left me thinking long after her talk, which she ended, saying: "Your 'busy, busy, more, more' friends are in a trance. Are you?"

If you'd like to learn Funt's tips for putting on powerful standing-room-only-presentations, see Convene's two-part series in the July 2009 and September 2009 issues. Read them here and here.


Thomas said...

A cookie, please. Leave the room for any business and I might miss something. Kudo's Juliet!

Barbara Palmer said...

Wasn't that a great talk?