Death by Meeting

Posted on January 24, 2009

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I think today’s version of the ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment is found in the form of the office meeting. Whether it’s a corporate or church environment there is no excuse for the boring meeting. I am amazed with the uninspired and thoughtless experience that is generally accepted for most team gatherings. They are usually:

  • Dull, boring, and lifeless
  • Not focused or directed 
  •  Lacks fun 
  •  Routine and predictable 
  • Absence of creative elements
  • Too Long
  • Not passionate
  • Produce little results

Why or how did this become acceptable? My theory is the seeds of mediocrity are planted early in the education system and then years later, comes to fruition in the work place (that’s another blog entry for later). I have found that one of the most significant places you can invest your creative energies is helping to redefine the ‘meeting’ culture in your environment. Nothing does more to destroy morale than to continually foster unproductive and uninspired gatherings. A boring environment is a non-creative environment and sets the bar low for your organization.  Do not stand for it.  Your team will thank you and your organization will grow. Here are a few tips:

  • The person running your meeting does not have to be the person ‘in charge’. Find a ‘facilitator’ on your team that out going, focused, and creative. He/she might not run it the way you want but if the team is engaged and excited then you will be pleased with the results.
  • Be passionate. Stand, don’t sit. Animate yourself. Project. Be lively. Nothing is worse that watching a monotone talking head for two hours.
  • Reorganize the room to facilitate creativity. Get rid of tables, rearrange chairs, or throw out chairs, bring in sofas, bean bags, whatever! Shake it up!
  • Keep meetings short and concise. Have a clear agenda and don’t deviate. In the craziness of creativity, your attendees will appreciate that you stay on track.  You’ll get big time respect points!
  • Have multiple elements in your meeting. Start with a fun intro like ice breakers. Shift gears and include new topics, watch video clips, do a brain storm activity- keep it moving. End with a focus point so your team walks away with a word or phrase. It helps keep it in their memory.
  • In this age of unlimited web resources, use video to make people laugh, think, or cry. A great resource is www.ted.com for inspirational and innovative talks.
  • Make it interactive.
  • Bring food. It’s amazing what a little food will do to change the whole atmosphere.
  • Keep the format different. People don’t like change initially but love it afterwards once they get used to it. Meetings should be like a movie, keep it unpredictable with lots of twists and turns.
  • And finally, pray for God to grant you creativity and inspiration.

Regularly ask for feedback offline. Keep a pulse on if your meetings are effective, if it’s not then keep changing till it is. The only way you will know you are succeeding is hearing your team’s feedback.

Like anything creative, it takes risk and failure. To try something new is not easy and takes lots of time, energy, and work. But for those of us that are entrusted with any sort of leadership position, it is our obligation to create moments of inspiration for those around us. Remember its about process AND product. It has to be ‘both/and’ in order for your teams to thrive. You will be a better creative leader- better yet, your team might actually look forward to attending one of your meetings!

 

 

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