Hand on heart: Sometimes you think the meeting you just attended was a waste of time, don’t you? If so, you’re not alone. People in offices all over the world are having more meetings than they’ve ever had before. Managers spend about 40-50% of their time in meetings and employees are close to 30%. So it’s not surprising to hear that we have meetings too frequently, for too long and with too little output.
So how can you avoid a meeting turning into a round of rambling or becoming an excuse to show off, instead of pushing the team forward? And how can you drag people out of their habitual way of thinking by freshening up the meeting? Here are our ready to use tips.
1. If you don’t want the meeting to take much time or effort, just take the chairs away. Standing meetings are on average one-third shorter and bring better results. Everyone is involved, no-one can hide behind a laptop or scribble circles in a notebook, and that’s a big plus.
2. Another simple trick: Reverse the order of the agenda and start with the last point. People will immediately be more attentive.
3. Start with an ice-breaker. This fills the air with energy and has a great influence on the rest of the meeting. What about speed dating? You probably know the concept, but you might be wondering how it works in business. Speed dating is all about exchanging ideas with as many different people as possible in a short time. This makes it perfect if you’re preparing a longer meeting for a team that only sees each other occasionally or is perhaps meeting for the first time.
1. Divide the participants into groups. Have each group sit at a table (the centre of the room remains free, tables and chairs are close to the walls, with paper and colored pencils on the table).
2. Ask the participants to create a mind-map about themselves (Who am I?). Give them three minutes to draw it using colours, images and printed words. You’re in charge of keeping track of time.
3. After this, each participant presents his (complete) mind-map to the colleague sitting next to him. He has one minute to do this, then it’s his colleague’s turn.
4. Now ask everyone to stand up and walk around the room. After your stop signal, instruct them to form a new pair with the person standing next to them. They then have 30 seconds to explain the mind-map to each other.
5. Last Round: Same procedure as above. Your last instruction will be to present the mind-map in three minutes each.
You can also use speed dating with other topics which are directly linked to the goal of your meeting. Just adapt the initial question however you like (How can we improve our sales effectiveness, how should our department look one year from now etc.)
Long presentations kill people’s concentration and productivity quickly. So if you’re afraid they may nod off, get them involved in your presentation. This way they stay focussed and important ideas will be highlighted.
1. Show a flip chart with six questions (if you have a big group, hang posters on the wall as well). Explain that one participant will roll the dice and answer the question corresponding to the number on the dice. If number 1 is rolled, question one will be answered.
2. The game starts after you have been presenting for about 10 – 15 minutes. One participant rolls the dice and answers the question. Don’t add any comments and if you have to, make it short. Carry out this activity quickly!
3. The participant then passes the dice to someone else who rolls the dice again and answers the corresponding question.
Our tip would be max 4-6 rolls per micro-interruption. The questions should always be related to the last 10-15 minutes of your presentation.
The productivity of a meeting also depends on how comfortable people are with each other. If they feel comfortable, they will be more open to sharing ideas and engaging in a real dialogue. Icebreakers and other fast, energizing group activities help you provide a positive atmosphere.
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