How do you fix a boring meeting?
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. Fun meetings make a bigger impact!
Go Back to School!
No really…remember the teacher whose class you always looked forward to? Why did you look forward to it? If you’re like me, it was because they taught in such a way that you had fun. PLUS, you really learned, and if that’s the goal, that’s a major takeaway.
What Are Some Things You Can Do?
Here are a few things I’ve taken from years of performing for corporate events. All of these are things I’ve seen and they really work.
1. Remove the table…and the chairs:
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. That was the highest energy level I’ve ever seen in a meeting to this day. 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 meetings conducted this way.” All I can say is…wow!
2. 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.
3. That screen displays more than PowerPoint
During the breaks, why not play a short video of something funny or even inspiring? Also, if you show something funny, why not have it being something related to your topic. If you’re talking about sales, go to YouTube and type in “Worst Sales Call.” Even if the video you find is completely fake, it still stays on topic and people will get a great laugh out of it.
4. Positive Reinforcement
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. To paraphrase, it says that 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. Therefore, they’re looking at their phone, responding to emails, checking social media, etc. 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 “focus mode.”
I recently performed out of town for a company’s annual retreat. They picked a beautiful destination, but it was nonstop meetings. Literally, one boring meeting after another, from sunup to sundown. They had me there to close out the night. I did my stage show which is a funny, interactive magic show. When I got back to the hotel where most of the attendees were staying, I started to get on the elevator to go to my room and heard my name from across the lobby. It started with a few people, turning into around 20. People just wanted to thank me for the show. “You really made this day so much better,” was a sentence I heard at least a dozen times. 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.
If you’re interested in having entertainment at your next meeting, boring or not, tell us about it!