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How to Make Meetings Fun and Productive. Yes, it is Possible!

How to Make Meetings Fun and Productive. Yes, it is Possible!

Helpful information for anyone who plans or participates in meetings of any kind.

We’ve all been there, stuck in a meeting with no end in sight and nowhere to hide (even on Zoom). Maybe it is a meeting with your staff, or a board or committee you sit on. Whether you are running the meeting or just participating in it, meetings can be painful. Sure, the work you are doing is important and hopefully the meeting is accomplishing something, but it should not feel like a trip to the dentist for root canal. Granted, not all meetings are like this but if you feel my pain, please read on.

Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of 182 senior managers in a range of industries and 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. While this number is high, it is not surprising in the least. 

When you think “meeting,” you likely don’t think “fun.” Fun equals engagement and engagement, more often than not, equals productivity. Here are just a few ideas to add a little pizzaz to your meeting and maybe even, dare I say it, have fun. 

Disclaimer: Know your participants. Not every tip is right for every group. 

Ditch the Suits

I know, meetings are supposed to be “professional,” but I also believe that people need to feel comfortable to be comfortable. A more casual approach can often lead to more open discussions, more idea sharing, and just a warmer atmosphere. Of course, you will want to let your participants know the attire in pre-meeting communications. No one wants to be the only person showing up dressed in a suit while others are relaxing in jeans. 

Call it by Another Name

While meetings are necessary, even the word “meeting” is boring. But call it like it is. Is it a huddle? Maybe it’s a brainstorming session or a town hall. By simply changing the name you can instantly change the perception of the invitees. 

Pick a Theme

I have actually done this one with great success. I have taken “ditching the suits” to a whole new level. I have implemented ugly shirt contests, decorated for Halloween, and even encouraged costumes. I have used the location, date, and audience for inspiration. I’ve given out goodies, incorporated the theme into the snacks and meals, and played theme-appropriate walk-in music. 

Prizes, prizes, prizes

You can make a game out of almost anything. Made the most motions in a meeting? You get a prize! Arrived at the meeting first? You get a prize! Found a hidden message in the handout materials? You get a prize! 

Promote Participation

It is harder to get bored or fall asleep when everyone is actively engaged and participating. Create an agenda that fosters collaboration and engagement. Consider having each person spearhead a conversation or break them up into groups to develop something to bring back to the full group. 

Start a Book Club

There are tons of great books out there on every topic that might apply to your participants whether it’s leadership, customer service, marketing, or whatever you think is relevant. Select a book and give it to all your participants prior to the meeting to read. Of course, not everyone will bother, but that is OK. Set aside some time in the agenda to discuss the book and everyone’s key takeaways. This can be fun discussion over snacks. Plus, they are learning and likely thinking more strategically as a result. Win-win!

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