We've Got to Start Meeting Like This

Your company's growth demands new ideas, tools for communication and the motivation and fortitude for implementation. Taking a business to the next level also requires consensus and buy-in to the right strategy and plan. Gathering key contributors together in a common physical space to set goals and strategies is the best way to form consensus and engage your team. Meetings get a bad rap because they are so often done improperly. They can be an enormous waste of human capital and demotivating for all involved. But effective meetings are the lifeblood of innovation. The right meeting environment increases the engagement and quality of your team directly leading to effective outcomes. This environment should stimulate creativity, encourage clear communication, allow for minimal distractions and spark team bonding.

A typical complaint of many an office is its grey and uninspiring nature. Walking everyday into a value-engineered building filled with cubicles and designed for management control is the modern day Sisyphean task. With limited potential for spontaneity and creativity, new and interesting interactions are rare while the demands of the day-to-day are emphasized. Getting everyone out of their rote routine is critical to stimulating creativity. To encourage a new mindset, find a place that's unique, open and inspiring. High ceilings, natural light and room to roam will help to get you in the right frame of mind. 

But not just any open space will do. The proper ergonomic layout is critical to ensuring clear communication. Do you need to face each other round table style to emphasize an egalitarian consensus or does everyone need to take turns brainstorming and then posting on the whiteboard? Do you need to sync to a monitor to watch a video or should a team leader bounce around to small groups emphasizing collaboration? Multi day meetings typically need multiple configurations depending on the activity at hand. After ideas are flowing, the right tools to capture and refine your ideas into creative and applicable output are critical. These can range from notepads and whiteboards to a professional consultant to distill these ideas into a common framework. 

An ideal meeting space allows for a distraction free environment. Choosing a location offsite from your normal office signals to your team the critical nature of your task at hand. Typical interruptions from colleagues are not acceptable. Clearly outline and set the expectation of the measurable goals to be achieved and the timeframe to achieve them with a clear start and stop time. Stick to the plan and emphasize the importance of proper preparation and staying on task. This applies to the meeting planner as well. Ensure that all technical aspects are planned and taken care of. Few things unnecessarily grind meetings to a halt quicker than a misplaced agenda or forgotten cable.

Don't forget to try new and challenging activities and have fun with your team along the way. A fun activity to begin the day sets the tone for continued collaboration and teamwork. Levity and humor help to bring out ideas, break down communication barriers and gets your team to relate in a different way. The right blend of novelty and engagement opens the door to a new conversation. The best activity will have your team saying, "remember when we...."? and will bring back that mindset of creativity and teamwork more easily.

With thoughtful meeting planning, you can help your team be more productive and connect to each other in a meaningful way. Instead of the cliched feeling of meeting dread, your team will have increased creativity and communication and better work engagement. Working better together is the ultimate goal of every team. It's well within your grasp with proper planning and an emphasis on the details to set right conditions in place for your next meeting.  

Post by Trent Sultemeier

MeetingsTrent Sultemeier