Bad meetings drive me crazy. When I was working in the social services industry, I was part of a work team that met every week. we all sat around in a circle and ate lunch, while the supervisors tried to get a conversation going. All the staff tried to stay awake and ate their sandwiches while the supervisors filled the air with their own voices to make them feel as they were in charge. The one time a courageous soul spoke up and shared an idea, the supervisor was dismissive and told him he was wrong. Why didn’t they just call it a lecture? It sure as heck wasn’t a meeting! When meetings work well, they are meant to build teamwork, generate ideas and gain consensus. Unfortunately, they’re not always as positive and productive as we would like. How can we make them more productive and fun? It’s time to turn attendees into participants – whose time and ideas are
valued and encouraged. Wouldn't it be incredible if meetings actually became fun to
1. Hold your meetings anywhere but a conference room or a place that serves food.
People can shut down and concentrate on their food rather than the work at hand. Choose different departments for your meeting, where you and your team don’t normally work. What’s it like to hold a meeting in the mail room? Go outside if the group is small, and make sure everyone is comfortable and can hear.
2. Remove tables and other barriers from the room.
Set chairs in a circle. It will feel uncomfortable at first to people who are used to “hiding” behind a table. Yet it’s far more conducive to teamwork and engagement.
3. Arrange for other people to present a part of the meeting.
Give them responsibilities or assignments, ample time to prepare, and be very positive about their contributions.
4. Turn off all phones, laptops, pagers, etc.
Focus is the key to short, productive meetings! It’s always better to ask a group of people to be fully focused and present for 40 minutes, than deal with constant interruptions and distractions for 90.
5. If energy wanes, have everyone switch seats.
Do it at least once per meeting. Then people will have to sit by different peers, see the room and the issues for a different point of view, and get their blood moving.
6. At the beginning of the meeting, have each person share something from work that’s gone really well recently.
It can be as simple as clearing up an issue with filing documents to as big as getting a major proposal out ahead of deadline.
7. At the end of the meeting, have everyone commit to an action.
They must accomplish their action by a set date, and report back on their progress at the next meeting.
8. Do the Five Minute Fling
Get people to loosen up by having them do the Five Minute Fling: a five minute humor break gives people permission to do whatever they need to do or whatever they feel they need. It could be throwing a football around, blowing bubbles or playing a quick game of tag with your co-workers.
Try one or two of these suggestions to get started, then continue to add new elements. Meetings that matter involve people who contribute, are focused on the topics at hand, and are constantly in search of positive outcomes. Good luck, and have
Trevor Smith is is founder and CEO of Blue Sky Consulting, a training and development firm, that focuses on using the principles of of fun and Improvisation to help organizations be efficient and productive. You can visit his website at www.blueskyconsulting.us or contact him directly at tsmith@blueskyconsulting,us.