Breaks During Meetings – What’s the Ideal?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 11, 2022

Whenever I create an agenda for a meeting (virtual or in-person), I always seem to get pushback on the number of scheduled breaks during meetings.   I typically schedule breaks every 60-75 minutes – usually at an appropriate change of activity in the agenda – for 10 minutes.

Some think that is too many, or not long enough and they would rather have fewer breaks, but a longer time – presumably to check email, voicemail, and grab something to eat or drink.

But the research, conducted by Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab, says fewer and longer breaks during meetings are not as productive – especially during virtual meetings.  That stress actually increases the longer your meeting continues…and builds as you fail to provide some “downtime” during the break and continue to “work.”

Michael Bohan, senior director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Engineering group, who oversaw the research project stated, “Our research shows breaks are important, not just to make us less exhausted by the end of the day, but to actually improve our ability to focus and engage while in those meetings.”

So make sure you schedule enough breaks during meetings and encourage your teammates to go outside, breathe some fresh air, go for a walk, listen to music, or a meditation – so they can come back refreshed, more focused, and more productive.


For more information about elevating your team results, processes and relationships, contact master facilitator, Kristin Arnold at 800.589.4733.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.  Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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