Via Forbes : Oh, the dreaded business meeting. The bane of all business people’s day. They sit there on your calendar, taunting you, telling you your work will soon be interrupted so you can go and sit in a conference room for an hour and maybe come away with a few minor productive takeaways.
Like lambs to the slaughter, we grab our laptops, tablets, and notebooks and begrudgingly walk towards the conference room. Then, we all sit down and as quickly as possible find something else to entertain ourselves until our two minutes of attention are required.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Business meetings can actually become productive once again. They can also even be fun if they’re done correctly.
I’ve compiled the top five ways to ensure that your next business meeting put a smile on people’s faces and leaves them wanting more.
Stop Calling Them Meetings
I know this sounds silly, but you’d be shocked at how effective it is at changing the way meetings are treated by just giving them a different nomenclature. In fact, in our office we’re not allowed to schedule meetings. Nor do we discuss meetings. Instead, our calendars are sprinkled with sit-downs, powwows, huddles, and about a dozen other terms that mean meeting but don’t say meeting.
Why do we do this? Well, because meetings have developed a stuffy and boring reputation. And why would you want to set the tone for your next gathering by immediately putting the idea of boring and stuffy into the attendee’s heads?
Plus, meetings come with other preconceived traits. They’re long, take place in a conference room and involve one person lecturing or presenting. When you change the name of the thing, now the thing can become whatever you want it to be. Which brings me to my next tip.
Stop Using The Conference Room
In fact, why does it have to be in a room for that matter? I understand that sometimes meetings require some level of privacy, but you’d be surprised where you can start holding them if you start to use your imagination.
A favorite place for me is in the car. When the meeting involves five or fewer people I’ll load them all into the car and we’ll turn on some music and go for a drive. It gets us out of the office, allows for privacy, and stimulates conversation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Other frequently used locations used in our office are the great outdoors, around someone’s desk, or at the coffee shop across the street. When you break out of the typical conference room environment you’ll notice that people open up, are more participatory, and usually enjoy themselves a little more.
Bring A Ball
This is my favorite one. The next meeting you hold, bring a ball, beanbag, or something that is soft and can be thrown. Then, just start tossing it around the room. Don’t treat it like a conch shell that needs to be held in order to have permission to speak, but rather use it as a tool to keep people engaged.
It’s tough to browse your Twitter stream when you might get hit in the head by a Nerf football.
People will remain engaged with the ball being tossed around, but because passing a ball around doesn’t require a lot of brain power, they’ll also be able to stay involved with the conversation and topics at hand. If you try only one of these, please make it this one.
Wherever you hold your next huddle or powwow (see what I did there?) make sure to ditch the chairs and have everyone, who is able, stand up. This will help keep people alert and it’s not as comfortable as sitting down. Because there isn’t the comfort of a chair supporting the attendees, they’ll find themselves getting to the point faster, chit-chatting less, and get the meeting over with sooner.
Plus it’s healthier for everyone involved. There are numerous studies that show that sitting at your desk all day has an extremely negative effect on your overall health and well-being. So, if you are forced to be in meetings several times a day, use that time to save you from the death trap that is your office chair.
Why do meetings have to be scheduled for one hour or half-hour slices of the day? Was there a mandate long ago from Mr. Business that stated this was gospel? If not, then let’s buck the trend. Start setting your one-hour meetings to half-hour meetings and change your half-hour meetings to 15 minute ones.
Once this is done, check and see if you can get everything done in the same amount of time and that they’re just as effective. I bet they will be if you’re also standing up, attending a huddle out by the tree, and tossing a ball around the circle.