It’s time to liberate your work meetings. When meetings are a frequent occurrence in your workweek, they often become formulaic. Attendees arrive, mix and mingle for a bit, and then sit down and get to business. Someone is taking meeting minutes, and someone delivers catered lunch or coffee. The fluorescent lights are dimmed, to brighten the gleam of the PowerPoint presentations.
Sound familiar? Work meetings on a regular basis start to form a pattern of mediocrity.
With 11 million formal business meetings held in the United States each day, it’s time to reassess the environment in which your team collaborates and brainstorms. Here are a few great ways to shake up your next workplace gathering.
More and more employers are recognizing the holistic health of their staff. Why not incorporate this attitude into your business meetings?
Companies such as L’Oreal, Yahoo, and Google have all included activities like yoga and meditation into their meetings and staff retreats. Survey your team to see which physical activity they’d prefer, and slot it into your meeting as a refresher for the body and mind. There are a lot of ways to do this, so choose whatever’s most comfortable for you and your team. Consider light impact activities, appropriate for a variety of fitness levels.
Forbes contributor and Foxtail Marketing CEO, Mike Templeman says his most effective tip for hosting a perfect business meeting is bringing a ball. Templeman isn’t talking about a soccer ball or football, but rather something small and cushy you can toss around on a whim. This can be used in group discussions to get everyone engaged in the conversation; or to get people’s eyes off their laptop, notebook, or phone during the course of the meeting.
It may seem extreme, but another way to encourage movement is to remove the meeting chairs entirely. Sitting all day isn’t healthy for us. Standing can reduce back pain and fidgeting, and fosters healthier lifestyle habits. Meeting attendees are less likely to lean back in their chair and daydream if there’s no chair to lean back in.
If you’re meeting with just one or two other people, try going for a walk. In her TED talk, business innovator Nilofer Merchant emphasizes the importance of walking meetings – she herself strolls 20 to 30 miles a week during walking meetings. The stimulated blood flow and increase in oxygen actually make you physically more prepared to talk about the topic at hand.
Change Up the Agenda
Meeting agendas can sometimes come across as prison sentences — documents listing, in great detail, the inevitable boredom you’re about to endure.
But, not when you add informal agenda disrupters.
Alex Kjerulf, founder of Woohoo inc, an expert on happiness at work, suggests beginning meetings with something called a positive round. A positive round starts the conversation on a high note, by asking staff to answer questions like “name something you’ve accomplished since the last meeting that you’re proud of” or “name one coworker who has helped during that time period and explain how.” This is a good way to make staff feel appreciated, and remind everyone in the room that their personal success is contingent on that of the team.
If your meeting is scheduled to last more than a couple of hours, introduce a series of energizers. Similar to icebreakers, energizers are short bursts of fun activity that allow people to wake up and re-engage with whatever’s going on. Don’t stress about scheduling these into the agenda — instead, meeting facilitators (or managers) should throw in an energizer whenever they see eyes starting to glaze over. When you take time to allow staff to stretch and laugh, your meeting yields better results. Energizers are often quite silly and soon, employees may even be referring to your meeting with the F-word — Fun.
Get Out of the Office
The most effective work discussions aren’t always held at work. Try revitalizing your next business meeting by hosting it in a place where meetings aren’t normally held. A lunch spot, or coffee shop, close to your office may be a great fit.
When it comes to longer and larger meetings, say farewell to the office altogether. Remember the level of excitement evoked by the words “field trip” in elementary school? Why not translate this eagerness to the adult world, and schedule your meeting in a new and exciting place?
This does one thing right away — it transforms people’s attitudes from “I’m dreading going to work because there is this big meeting today,” to “it’s great that we don’t need to go into the office today.” Even if the meeting agenda remains entirely the same, the day will be refreshed by the promise of a different environment.
Staff work better in new environments, plus off-site meetings require everyone to be in the same room – which makes more of an impact than you’d think. Psychologist Dr. Richard D. Arvey, professor with the National University of Singapore, found that 85% of meeting attendees were more likely to come up with breakthrough thoughts when collaborating with colleagues face to face.
When searching for a location to hold your off-site meeting, consider venues with options that go beyond the conventional conference room. Large hotel suites, theaters, courtyards, and restaurant spaces are all fresh ideas for your meeting space. With creative and unconventional meeting arrangements, the bright ideas are sure to follow suit.
Offsite meetings also create a better time frame around the day’s goals. Unlike office meetings, which can trickle into the afternoon or the next day of work, gathering at a non-office location provides motivation for a discussion to reach a sense of finality – so that everyone can leave and get home, or back to work.
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Written by: Greg Baldyga has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years. He has worked with Horton Grand Hotel for over 15 of those years. As the General Manager his day-to-day focus and passion is leading his team to find better ways to serve their guests. Greg is a very positive and approachable leader who can often be heard saying “Make it Grand”.