Let’s face it: Meetings are boring. Despite that, however, people still endeavor to join meetings because it plays a crucial role in the success of organizations.
Meetings help build a tightly-knit culture by enabling employees to share ideas, tackle disputes, and solve problems by working together. More importantly, meetings help companies reach their goals in a timely manner.
To help improve the quality of your meetings, we share eight activities that can make your meetings more engaging, enriching, and worthwhile for your company:
1. Play “word of the day”
“Word of the Day” is a great way to start meetings and make listening actually enjoyable for your team.
The rules are simple: come up with a random word and yell “word of the day!” whenever someone mentions it. Points will then be given to members who caught the word being used.
To make things more interesting, participants should try to mention the word as sneakily as possible. For example, if the word of the day is “jettison,” someone could say:
“It would jettison business decision-makers off our mailing list.”
Due to the nature of the game, everyone will have no choice but to be more attentive to the speaker’s every word.
2. Ask icebreaker questions
Sometimes, the problem with long meetings isn’t just their length. There are cases when attendees seem to refuse voicing out their concerns because they aren’t comfortable or just shy.
Asking icebreaker questions is a time-tested way of making everyone feel welcome to participate. It shakes off the awkwardness of first-time meetings between staff who barely know each other.
Here are some icebreaker questions you can ask during meetings:
How did you get the job?
What’s your favorite hobby?
Who do you think is the best-dressed person in the meeting?
If you’ll get stuck at work overnight with a teammate, who will it be?
What is your hidden talent and would you share it with the group?
If you’re short on time, you can ask participants one question each. Otherwise, you can prepare a list of questions that everyone should answer when it’s their turn to speak.
3. Virtual scavenger hunt
A virtual scavenger hunt is a surefire way of determining who has the most number of odd items at home.
You can make it a race of who can bring the required item first. Alternatively, you can create a list of items and reward points for each one they bring back.
Virtual scavenger hunts can be your meeting’s opening activity if you want to energize your team and lighten the mood. They can also be done in the middle of long, multi-hour meetings as a way to restore focus.
4. Play show-and-tell
No — show-and-tell isn’t just for young children.
When it comes to talking about hobbies and interests, adults can be just as enthusiastic and excited as grade-schoolers.
This activity involves asking participants to present and describe something to the group. It can be anything that’s of value to each member, like a collectible action figure or CD album.
Show-and-tell can help employees build and strengthen professional relationships with their colleagues. It also creates a warm and congenial work environment where no one has to worry about fitting in.
5. Play “guess who” puzzles
“Guess Who” puzzles can help you determine just how well employees know each other.
Your team will then have to guess who’s in the puzzle as you piece it together. The first person who guessed right gets to choose the next picture.
To make this activity more challenging, try to use old photos of that particular member. Whatever you do, avoid using photos that are offensive or too embarrassing for employees.
6. Hold quizzes
Want to know if your attendees are actually paying attention?
Two words: quiz them.
Ask questions that are related to the meeting’s agenda. Those who get it right can be permitted an early, longer break.
Of course, everyone will still get their breaks as scheduled.
Your goal, after all, is to keep your attendees engaged and motivated — not make them feel like losers. Whatever you do, don’t come up with punishments (unless they’re fun) for those who can’t get right answers.
7. Make time for unscheduled breaks
Meetings typically follow a set schedule that leaves no room for unscheduled breaks or timeouts.
This is understandable, since you should still expect a certain degree of commitment from your staff.
However, making time for unplanned breaks is something attendees will greatly appreciate. One person may suddenly need a restroom break, while another could be taking care of children while working from home.
As long as it’s reasonable, don’t skimp on breaks. In the meantime, allow the rest of your team to spend them however they want — be it playing online solitaire, getting back to a magazine, or eating a snack.
8. Give your team their own time
When planning your meeting, ask your employees if they’d like some time to take the stage at any point. They may want to share a breakthrough, bring light to workplace-related issues, or simply make an announcement.
While it’s ideal to give everyone a chance, it’s not always possible unless your team sinks hours into the meeting. That said, create a list of all proposals, prioritize the most important ones, and reschedule the rest for next time.
Getting ready for your next meeting
With the ideas above, it’s easy to feel excited and eager to plan your next meeting.
Just remember to take things easy and wait until your team actually needs to meet.
As Basecamp CEO Jason Fried said, “Meetings should be like salt — a spice sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful.”
“Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation.”