What words do you associate with meetings? Many of the delegates in my training talk about having ‘too many’ meetings. They talk about meetings that don’t move things forward. But meetings can be great ways to collaborate, to share problems, to identify solutions. In today’s working environment, many people work remotely. For some, meetings are the time when they get to meet face to face with colleagues. For others, they don’t even meet in person any more. Virtual meetings are becoming the new norm and have their own set of challenges, frustrations, and of course benefits. For others perhaps, meetings is where much of the working day can be spent. Not many people I meet describe meetings as ‘fun’. Except of course for the occasional person who organizes a lot of meetings and thinks the ones they organize are the exception to the norm!
There are loads of things that we can do to make meetings more effective. But there are also ways we can lighten them up, make them more fun. And guess what? This also helps people to focus better, to engage in the discussion and perhaps even remember the meeting.
Some people think that having senior people in the meeting means you should do less ‘fun’ stuff. But I’d suggest the opposite. The more senior people are, chances are they spend more time in meetings and would appreciate a little fun thrown in. Obviously, not suitable for all meetings (such as telling someone that they are going to be losing their job). But I challenge you to give some of these ideas a try in your team meetings, away days and any other meeting that could benefit from an injection of fun.
So, some ideas to make meetings more fun, some tested out by clients, some I’ve read about along the way, and others that I just think sound like a great idea and I’d love you to test them. Let me know what works and what inventive ideas you come up with in your meetings.
1) Start with something silly. Perhaps a brief YouTube clip that makes people smile. It lightens the mood, and only takes a couple of minutes. I’ve heard of a business who delegate this task to people who are late for a regular meeting. They have to pick the clip for the next time.
2) I love a good doodle, I can’t draw especially, but in most meetings I’ll have done a lot of squiggling. Why not a prize at the end of the meeting for the best doddle? More on the benefits of doodling here.
3) If you are taking notes, have a go at doing this using pictures. There are also people who you can invite to your meeting to capture what you do using pictures. I presented at a conference in Brighton last year where a company did just that – ideal for away days and bigger events.
4) Play Dough! It’s like 3D doodling I suppose. Perhaps people could draw or model their play dough to express their support, or lack of for ideas. Having something to do while listening helps concentration and focus.
5) A quick game of musical chairs to take a break from the meeting, and get people moving- physically.
6) Rhyme time? Have an item on the agenda where people need to make their points using words that Rhyme.
7) Give out prizes during the meeting. Up to you how you decide to do this. You could have a prize for the best dressed attendee, the person with the most unorthodox idea, the person who can use a pre-agreed word the most often during a meeting.
8) Have words in a meeting that are banned. People have to find an alternative. There could be some sort of forfeit for slipping up. This could be a great way to avoid jargon and TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms), especially useful if new people are joining the discussion.
9) Playing catch. If someone wants to speak they can only do so when they have the ball. So you have to get the attention of the person with the ball, how will you do that? If you have the ball and want to hear someone’s opinion, best hope you can throw.
10) We all know that some snacks can go down well in meetings. Give meeting participants an After Eight mint. They place it on their forehead. They have to get it into their mouths without touching it. You do this my using your face muscles, to work the mint into your mouth. It will certainly lighten the mood and provide a hilarious few minutes of entertainment!
Enjoy having a go at a few of these, and be sure to share your tips to make meetings more fun.
Still not enjoying meetings as much as you’d like to? Book our Effective Meetings Training and have a Productivity Ninja make your meetings magic again.
By Hayley Watts