Okay, here’s a stupid question: how often do you attend a boring meeting? I’m assuming the answer is, “When do I not?” Now, I’ve got a more interesting question for you: how often do you attend a fun meeting? I ask these two questions to a lot of people every year. The answers, while slightly varied, are pretty similar. When I ask about the boring meetings, the person usually acknowledges in a way that says, “boring is par for the course”. However, when I ask about a fun meeting, the response is usually very specific. The person will center out a specific time that they really enjoyed attending a meeting. Not only that, but they will give me specifics on what they enjoyed about that meeting, as well as what they took away. Here’s what I take from this: Fun meetings make a bigger impact!
This Concept Isn’t New!
Go back to school! No, seriously, think about being in school. Remember the teacher whose class you really looked forward to? If you’re like me, there weren’t many, but there were those few (or maybe one) who taught in such a way that you had fun, and on top of that, you learned. I’ll be honest, I used to hate history! Never interested me in the slightest (and my grades might have indicated that). However, it 10th grade, all of that changed, due to one teacher. He turned history into something that it had never been before…fun. So, the big question: what did he do? He basically took what every teacher was doing…and did almost the exact opposite! Rather than just listening to a teacher give a lecture and us having to sit their and be quiet, some classes, we would be standing or walking around the classroom, having open group discussions, watching slideshows, listening to stories from our teacher about vacations he had taken to the places that we were studying. It just gave a different feeling to the room. While he followed the curriculum, he made certain to call attention to the things that would have more potential to appeal to a teenage crowd.
What Are Some Things You Can Do?
Remove the table…and the chairs:
I couldn’t believe this when I heard it but it was very powerful. Once I performed for a group of people that were having a board meeting. I walked into the room and every single person in the room was standing. I will never forget the energy in that room. I asked the head of the company why they stand up for meetings. His response was, “There’s a lot more interaction and we’ve gotten our best ideas from meeting conducted this way.” All I can say is. wow!
Gimme a Break!
Taking a break every hour or even half hour can be a great recharge. Doesn’t have to be long. Two minutes just to stretch and refill the coffee can be a great break in the action.
Make sure there’s more positive points in a meeting than negative. I love what the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie says. When you give a criticism, start with a compliment first. It makes the criticism easier for the person to hear.
Yes! Bringing in an entertainer for 30 minutes can drastically change a meeting for the better. Trust me, it’s better to do live entertainment as well. If you just show a 30 minute episode of some TV show, people don’t feel as obligated to pay attention and may look at their phone. You want the people to still be engaged and having someone entertaining them in person will give a fun break in the action and still keep them in a mode where they are focused.
This past week, I performed out of town for a business that was having their annual retreat. They picked a beautiful place to have the retreat but it was nonstop meetings from sunup to sundown. They had me there to close out the night. I did my stage show which is a blend of comedy and magic. When I got back to the hotel where everyone that attended the retreat were staying, I started to get on the elevator to go to my room and heard my name from across the lobby. Several people that were at the show wanted to speak with me. As I stay and chatted with them over the next 10 minutes, I had at least 20 people come up and thank me for the show I did. The most common sentence that was said to me was, “You really made this day so much better.” Not to cheapen my show, but all I did was do a few magic tricks and tell a few jokes.
Don’t be afraid to try something different at your next meeting. You might be surprised how well received it is.