“Meet in silence”- Bastian Overgaard

After a long break due to the pandemic, many businesses have found out that we need to “meet”. Organising hybrid work has increasingly become important and we have found out how our personality types complement each other in various work settings. HUONE had the pleasure to interview Bastian Overgaard about the importance of meeting face-to-face, and how we could utilise ‘silence’ to be more efficient and creative.

Bastian Overgaard is an expert in ‘silence.’ He is a renowned expert in consulting, facilitation, and developing effective meeting cultures. He is known for his pioneering work in implementing ‘silence’ and the power of the ‘pause’ as a tool in the management as well as business meetings and events. He recently published the acclaimed book “Støjfri Ledelse” (“Noise-Free Management” in Danish).

In this interview, you will learn more about:

  • Why silence is important to the development of teams, having more efficient meetings
  • Why it is important to meet face-to-face
  • Tips for future leaders

Why do you believe in the importance of silence in management, and as a tool for having more efficient meetings?

“Based on my experience and knowledge about neurological and behavioural studies, it makes no sense to think that we can perform to our highest capacity with the amount of information pouring into each other’s minds while executing all the time. There is much evidence that supports it. For instance, experts have found out that an average person says approximately 150 words per minute; that is 9000 words per hour. In other words, we are exposed to 22,5 pages of texts during a one-hour meeting.

Our brains need peace and pause in order to reboot, handle and process information that’s coming in. Unfortunately, a lot of meetings are filled with ‘words.’ We don’t give our brain the time to reflect and just think. As a result, information is lost and no room for creativity is left. When the silence is co-created (which means it’s facilitated within a timeframe, everyone is committed and respects the silence), it creates psychological safety, which will raise the collective intelligence. In other words, in the silence, everyone is heard.” 

a meeting without silence is like a typewriter without a space bar”

Bastian_Meet in silence_HUONE Helsinki(Bastian Overgaard speaking at HUONE Copenhagen, during HUONE &Friends: ‘No More Boring Meetings’ event)

What impact do you think surroundings can have on efficiency?

“Everything that can widen one’s perspective, is good. There is a lot of research that can testify to the fact that we easily get stuck in our habitual thinking and routines that limit us. Especially in a time like this with much uncertainty, we need to think outside-the-box and innovatively. It doesn’t work if we are wearing blindfolds. That is a habit one can easily develop, if we are always in the same office, home, or virtual setting, and talk 9000 words/hour. Then, it is time to make some changes. Active silence or creative meeting settings can be a way of creating more of those ‘aha!’ moments.

Bastian_Meet in silence_HUONE Helsinki(Bastian Overgaard’s talk about using ‘silence’ as a tool was much praised as something so crucial in today’s fast-paced world, images from HUONE Copenhagen, during HUONE &Friends: ‘No More Boring Meetings’ event)

With the rise of hybrid working culture, how do you think our meeting habits will evolve?

“I have a strong conviction that the more hybrid we become in our work routines and the more virtual meetings we host, the higher the need for face-to-face meetings will get.

So many basic elements in communication is lost in hybrid and virtual meetings, both in terms of body language and sensing each other.

Studies show that we communicate and connect ‘physically’ when we are in the same room. We align with each other using our senses. I hope that we realise that meeting face-to-face not only is a nice-to-have but a need-to-have.

Bastian’s advice for future leaders:

  1. It is tempting to focus on the benefits of the new digital reality because the cost can be cut down to a minimum in terms of transportation, commuting time, and meeting space cost. However, do remember the importance of physical presence and the purpose.
  2. ‘Silence’ is teambuilding in acceleration. Consider taking advantage of it. After only a few minutes of co-created silence, you will create a sense of closeness among the team, and the level of trust will go up.
  3. Put it in your calendars to simply be together and meet face-to-face as a team if possible.

Find more about Bastian Overgaard’ and his upcoming activities and presentations on his website: www.mindresnak.nu.

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