Take a moment and ask yourself…what’s the best meeting I ever participated in? What made it the best? People, process, dialogue, outcomes? Whether it’s a virtual or in person meeting, we spend a lot of time scheduling meetings and participating in meetings. Two of the most frequent comments I get from people are…”I have so many meetings, I can’t get any work done” and “So many of the meetings I attend are a waste of time.” Are you having the same old meetings? and the same old conversations?
My favorite meetings start with a specific agenda and a clear goal that has been sent out, if possible, 24 hours in advance of the meeting. In addition, only the people who need to be there are included so there is momentum and engagement. And, we begin the meeting with the question…”If this is a great meeting, what will success look like in 1 hour?” Lastly, we start and end on time with clear outcomes and action steps.
Literature abounds on how to hold productive, energizing meetings. What I don’t see discussed too often, is where to meet. All too often it’s in the same conference room, with the same chairs and tables, and this can lead to the same old conversation. Let’s start a brainstorm together on how to shift up meeting locations. Here are some ideas:
- Walking meeting– Walking meetings are a great way for 2-3 people have a discussion. These are great for debriefing, collaboration and problem solving. The act of walking energizes new parts of the brain.
- Stand Up meetings– Start the day with your team and check in on everyone’s priorities. Grab your coffees and tea and meet for a start of the day stand up meeting. Just 5-10 minutes so everyone knows the priorities and goals for the day and progress on the week long goals.
- Treadmill meetings– In Minneapolis, I saw an office where they had treadmills with computer screens. People could reserve the treadmills for a meeting. What’s better than a nice slow walk on a treadmill on a super hot or frigid cold Minneapolis day?
- Tree Climbing– In a recent walk along the Charles River in Boston, I saw these two tree climbers having a meeting on their computer amidst the branches in the blowing wind.
One of my favorite experts on workplace design and organizational culture is an organizational consultant with a speciality in interior design. She works with teams to design work and meeting spaces to meet the culture of the organization. She recently shared with me that she is encouraging people to share desks. I have seen this work really well in some offices where people are in and out of the office all the time. It also encourages people to meet in new ways.
What are your tips to making meetings more engaging, energizing, and purposeful? If the same old meetings in the same old places are resulting in the same old conversations, perhaps it’s time to shake it up!
I’ll meet you in the tree along the Charles River any day.