Ever since I was a young boy running around the schoolyard in my favourite lesson of all, P.E., I was taught to warm up, and prepare myself mentally and physically before it got competitive. The purpose of a warm-up is to maximise performance and reduce the risk of injury by increasing the body’s core and muscle temperature. Warm muscles increase the rate of energy production, which increases reflexes and lowers the time it takes to contract a muscle . Vincent Walsh, a neuroscientist based in UCL, proposes that the same concept should be applied for all activity; competitive sports or boardroom battles. He states that for optimal performance, we should warm up our brains in a similar way before undergoing complex cognitive tasks .
Most of us working in sport have spent the majority of our lives out on the pitch, court, field or track. If you now find yourself chasing success in a new environment. Sat in an ergonomically designed seat or at a kitchen table you might be wondering how you can transfer more than just your competitive nature to work. Recent research shows that the brain is similar in many ways to a muscle . Scientists have demonstrated that the brain grows and gets stronger when you learn . So, if it acts like a muscle and we treat work as a lifelong competition, why don’t we warm up before an important meeting or interview? Could it improve performance? We think so. If you are looking for a way kickstart your new year? Want to put in place good new habits and keep your team motivated and engaged in the new year? Engaging a team before a meeting is essential to maximise productivity and deliver against a packed agenda . Here are our favourite tips :
- Match the length of the warm-up to the length of the meeting. A one-hour meeting should have a warm-up that’s about 5-7 minutes, while a multi-hour meeting can have one that’s a bit longer. A warm-up that’s too long leaves people feeling like they are wasting time, so keep it to a length they will appreciate.
- Make sure your warm-up has a purpose. Are you bringing people together that aren’t familiar with one another at all or is it a group which meets every week? Are they getting to know each other better or just trying to figure out the basics of who is in the room? Connect the warm-up to the meeting content and objectives. Different warm-ups accomplish different things, so choose wisely to make it time well spent.
- Match your warm-up to your audience. Match your choice of activity to the tone of the meeting and the potential interests of those in the room. Everyone is capable of having fun, so don’t be afraid to ask people to do something a bit different.
- Choosing an activity that matches the tone and objectives of your meeting is critical. It’s also important to think about the culture and social norms of the group. Understanding your audience is paramount to the success of an effective mental warm-up. Each individual learns differently, and they can be split into three different groups:
4 https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/winter-2008/you-can-grow-your-intelligence/ 5 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236810