How To Make Deathly Dull Meetings Fun Again



I’ve written before about why most meeting suck and how to make them work better, but just because a meeting is efficient doesn’t mean it’s engaging or fun.

Wait, a fun meeting? Is that a real thing?

Certainly it is — if you put some thought into it.

While the top priority of any meeting isn’t to have fun, it isn’t to bore the shoes off your participants, either. Try incorporating one or more of these tips to enjoy a more engaged, productive atmosphere in your next meeting:

  1. Start on a positive note. Studies have shown that the way you start sets the tone for the entire meeting. Try starting out by having everyone in attendance tell one recent accomplishment they’re proud of; have everyone nominate someone in the group for praise; or share a tip on working better/faster/etc. Give each person 30 to 60 seconds max to keep things moving.
  2. Observe a moment of silence. It seems like the purpose of a meeting is to talk, right? Wrong. The purpose of a meeting is to arrive at ideas or solutions — and most people can’t talk and think at the same time. Whenever a new topic or question is presented to the group, try instituting a minute or two of silence for everyone to think before throwing out ideas. It may improve the quality of ideas you get.
  3. Incentivize participation. Sure, it will seem a little like primary school at first, but giving people an incentive to participate in meetings — a gold star, say, or a mini candy bar — can actually work really well. We like rewards and to be recognized for our contributions. Figure out what will motivate your team to bring their A-game to every meeting. When someone racks up 10 gold stars can they trade them in for an extra hour of paid vacation? Or could you have an ideas leaderboard in the office for those who regularly contribute the most?
  4. Take regular breaks. When you have a lot of ground to cover, it can seem important to power through, but most of us don’t have the attention span to be “on” for more than 30 minutes at a time. Schedule in a 2-minute break for every 30 minutes of the meeting, and use that time to encourage people to get up and stretch or do something creative, like a quick round of pictionary or a rock-paper-scissors tournament. Whatever you do, don’t let people just sit around and check their phones.
  5. Doodle. We’ve all been caught doodling in a boring meeting from time to time, but why not turn that creative energy toward the problem at hand? Pass out paper, pens, pencils, crayons — whatever will get the creativity flowing — and encourage doodling. You might storyboard a problem together as a group or let people in on the creative powerhouse that is visual notetaking.
  6. Take away the table. A table can be a crutch for some meetings; taking it away to leave only a ring of chairs (or do away with the chairs and have a standing or walking meeting) can energize the room. It can create better conversation flow, allow people to move around more, and create the psychological sense that everyone is on an equal level.
  7. Watch the clock. OK, so you’ve probably found yourself watching the clock in a boring meeting on more than one occasion, but a great way to keep meetings on task and moving forward is to have a BIG countdown clock letting everyone know how much time is left in the meeting or before the next break. It gets people’s energy up to try to accomplish more in a set period of time, and makes sure that the meeting doesn’t drag on forever.

What are your best tips for spicing up a boring meeting? How have you kept engagement high with your meetings? Give us your best tips in the comments below.

-Bernard Marr is a globally recognized expert in strategy, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data. He helps companies and executive teams manage, measure and improve performance.

Photo: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

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