31 Jul Four Unusual Tips For Spectacular Meetings
So, what makes a good meeting? It’s universally agreed this is what to aim for:
Efficiency – Get things done within a set time
Positivity and enjoyment – Everyone departs with enthusiasm and in the right frame of mind
Participation – Involving everyone, so true consensus is achieved, not just silent acquiescence
Openness –Everyone feels they can be honest, and problems are not swept under the carpet
Creativity – Being receptive to new ideas, processes and plans, to bring real change
Dynamism– Being determined to leave with a strong action plan
You should take for granted all the usual advice to plan a meeting well and invite all the right people. But if you’re still not achieving highly successful meetings, maybe it’s time to ring some big changes?
1. Open The Meeting with Positive Participation
Many companies start off with employees explaining what they’ve been working on. Of course once they start going into detail about all the things that are not working, this tends to descend into complaints, moaning, blame-passing and irritation. A meeting will not achieve efficiency, positivity, openness etc. if it starts in this negative way.
Instead, invite attendees to share a positive experience they’ve had since the last meeting, some good news or something interesting they’ve learnt. A quick round of positives can be anything from 30 seconds to 2 minutes per person.
This will focus their minds on what they can achieve given the right circumstances and encourage them to value working at the company. It’s also a good way to help them appreciate others’ achievements, perhaps counterbalancing anything negative they might otherwise have thrown at a colleague.
2. Experiment With Seating (Or No Seating)
Not all meetings need to involve a table, or even be sit-down meetings. A short meeting with 3 or 4 attendees might work well in a coffee bar area. It sounds odd, but plenty of people stand up in a social situation like the pub and retain good concentration! It keeps everyone on their toes (so to speak), it’s certainly dynamic, and it’s impossible to drift off when you are standing.
Or if you’d rather sit, you can open up the group by making a circle of chairs without tables blocking your view of the whole person.
Sometimes all this psychology is well and good but you need somewhere to perch your tea cup or lay out your spreadsheets! A table can still be an excellent aid, but just think carefully about how it’s set up. Many meeting rooms, like ours, are now reconfigurable, so take advantage of those tables on wheels- move them around to get more of a communal circle and less of a long and distant ‘head of table’ feel. It feels more open and participation tends to be much better.
3. Introduce Some Enforced Silence
This really can challenge the idea of how a meeting should be run. It’s based on the premise that some people can’t think at the same time as they talk, or need more time to digest certain ideas.
Add in a couple of two minute breaks specifically for thinking at relevant points in the meeting. One way to use a silence would be to introduce potential solutions, then break for 2 minutes before asking for discussion and resolution. Alternatively, try the silent minute or two to halt a heated discussion and encourage the warring parties to calm down.
This will all feel strange and artificial at first, but consider starting with just one minute to get attendees used to the idea. After a while, you never know, it may become a pleasant break from all the talking!
4. Bring Prizes
If you are running or heading a meeting, you can’t go wrong bringing along some prizes or goodies- real solid objects that can be passed around. These add an element of excitement and unpredictability to the meeting, which keeps everyone interested, and the laughs that result will help to bond your team as a unit. Prizes could be distributed for good ideas, achievements since the previous meeting or for answering questions correctly.
Food in the form of chocolate or sweets goes down well (and costs little). Or you could always encourage company loyalty with a few useful branded promotional items like torches or mugs. If you have the budget for it, buy a few Lottery scratchcards to give out. This is one small way to show employees their contributions are valued and stir motivation for the next meeting.
5. It all starts with a good venue.
Try us out at Mantle Business Centres in Wokingham. Our fantastic meeting rooms are available for shorter-term use, and we also offer great day or half-day rates. We use fully reconfigurable tables, we offer refreshments and projectors/flipcharts for free, a warm and welcoming Reception service, and convenient free car parking.
Take a look at our rooms at www.mantleltd.co.uk, call us to book on 0118 9778599 or see our Instagram at @mantleoffices