I promised my friend Kate that I would write this, as it may or may not be relevant, but I won't be specific to avoid getting dooced. However, no matter where you work, there will always come a time when you find your attention dwindling... your eyelids get heavy... your head starts bobbing... and before you know it, the VP of Operations is watching you wipe drool from your chin.
So here we go:
1. Ask a question.
I started doing this back in high school. When you ask a question about the meeting topic, you become a bit more invested in what is going on. Plus, if you're anything like me (socially awkward and low on the totem pole, which is a great combination, believe me), your face will flush and your pulse will quicken as you realize all these people are staring at you as if you're a bug. Therefore, the dumber the question you ask, the more you'll perk up.
2. Stand up and pace a bit.
This works really well on me. Yes, most people sit calmly and professionally during meetings, but it isn't unheard of for people to stand occasionally. Where I work, there's one guy that always stands during meetings. As it happens, he's also one of the more energetic people I work with.
If anyone gives you shit about it, just say you're stretching your legs. But if you really want to impress the higher-ups, deliver some hyped corporate b.s. lingo, like, "I'm brainstorming," or "I'm trying to actualize/visualize/centralize the workflow." Or just distract them with #1, combined with #2 (this is where it gets fancy): "Does proceduralizing this process fall within our defined scope moving forward?" VIP's minds = BLOWN.
3. Eat or drink something. Especially if it burns your tongue.
Bonus points if you annoy everyone by chewing ice cubes, like I do. But really, any kind of stimulant to your senses works. A good example is chewing hard candy, especially something peppermint-flavored -- studies have shown (I'm not citing anything here, because Google just told me "Um, duh? You don't know this?", plus I learned it in psych class several years ago -- thanks Mr. Fitz!) that peppermint, both the smell and taste of it, can make you more alert and make the mind more focused.
I discovered on my own that drinking hot beverages, caffeinated or not, can help. See, I don't drink coffee. Can't stand the taste of it. I don't even like mocha ice cream. What I do enjoy, however, is hot chai. I found that I can stay awake in meetings if I'm drinking hot chai, because at least once a minute I get a nice refreshing dose of "OH HOLY FUCK, MY TONGUE, OW OW OW."
4. Take a diuretic before the meeting.
This should be self-explanatory. Not only do most diuretics contain caffeine, but you'll also be getting up every five minutes to go pee. Your meeting-mates probably won't say anything; they'll probably just assume you have something medically wrong, so they'll gossip behind your back, but it's better they tell everyone that you have incontinence issues than to say you have narcolepsy. Right?
5. Text someone under the table.
I don't recommend this, as it's highly frowned upon in most companies. However, if you have a company-issued phone (which is not most of us), people will generally look the other way. I only use this in the most dire of situations. Last time I did this, I texted David, because he has a never-ending supply of stories from when he was in the Army. It went like this:
Me: Haylp, I'm bored and falling asleep
David: So this one time, I was on the Autobahn...
Needless to say, it helped.
Any more suggestions? Anyone tried the above tips?