Meetings are an integral part of every business – collaboration and creativity are the future.

Meetings are an integral part of every business – collaboration and creativity are the future.

Research by MIT Sloan Business School suggests that the average employee spends 24 hours a week in meetings – more than double that of the 1960s! This has to be time well spent.

Our advice will attempt to provide a framework for how to conduct more inspirational, creative, fun and productive meetings.

Creative techniques and exercises for fun and engaging meetings:

1: Mind Mapping

A great way of visualising a challenge so that everyone can get a picture of the situation:

• First, the central goal or problem is written down in the centre of a whiteboard.

• Looking at this problem, you can write around the central problem in branches.

• These branches then become their own ‘central problems/ goals’ with branches of their own. Thus everyone on the team has a clear sense of strategy. This way the work required to achieve a main goal can be separated into more manageable and focused tasks

2: Brain writing

A good team is alive with ideas, some of which are at risk of going unheard. It’s often not the most obvious, serious

or conventional idea that will win the day. Brain writing is a great way to ensure that no stone is left unturned. It is also an

effective medium in which team members can share their own knowledge and expertise.

• It’s best to have the team arranged in a circle for this. Each team member individually brainstorms ideas and writes them down on their own flipchart. A page per person is ideal.

• The flip chart sheets are then passed around the circle in a clockwise/ anti-clockwise direction. Each team member

looks at the new flipchart of ideas from the person next to them and writes down any ideas that spring to  mind from them.

• Keep cycling round until everyone has their own sheet back in their possession and then a live brainstorming session can

be had on the all the inspiration that has been gleaned. This is a great way of structuring a group discussion and making sure that everyone is able to contribute equally.

Planning a Meeting

Having a checklist is the first step towards making sure a meeting runs smoothly and stays on track:

1. Purpose/focus of meeting:

What is the meeting about? Be very precise about what the objectives are and whether or not the decision-making could be conducted in another way.

2. Who should be present?

It’s very important that the right people are in the room and that no one is there who doesn’t need to be. As mentioned before, there’s a time and money cost to all of this. It’s useful to think in terms of what everyone’s role is. At the very least there should be a leader and a person in charge of taking – and circulating – notes. Also bear in mind that in the age of video/ audio conference technology, not everyone need necessarily be there in person.

3. How often should the meeting be held?

Is this meeting a one-off troubleshooting session or is it part of a regular sequence of meetings? If the latter, does it need to occur with the frequency it has done in the past? Is it appropriate to the work calendar?

4. Time and date

Make sure everyone knows what time they’re arriving, on what date and how long the meeting is expected to last. How long will depend on what is being discussed, how many people will be involved and also which people are involved. Some senior company members may prefer long and thorough discussion of topics. If you are using video-conferencing, factor into the equation that this may involve some participants being on different time-zones.

5. Venue

Make sure the venue is accessible to all and is of the appropriate size. Too large a space can be intimidating, too small a space can be cramped and debilitating. Make sure that the venue can support the technology that you require.

6. Equipment

At the centre of every meeting should be a good quality whiteboard. Flipcharts are also ideal for recording ideas. Make

sure that you have a good supply of quality marker pens, erasers, pencils and spare flipchart pads. Make the meeting visually engaging and stylish!

7. Refreshments

Particularly if the meeting is to be a long one, you will want to make sure that tea/coffee and biscuits, or even lunch are

provided. If lunch is required, contact participants in advance to confirm any special dietary requirements they might have

ie: vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, nut-allergy etc. It may be necessary to consult a dietary guide for some requirements. This WILL be remembered in the feedback!

8. Set up in advance

Ask attendees for any items they may require and inform members of any documents to be tabled. Make sure the agenda

(more on this in a bit) is circulated amongst everyone. Also send a polite reminder to all attendees asking for confirmation of their attendance.

9. Dress code

Still important, even in the ‘smart-casual’ age. It’s good practice to make things clear so that no one feels under or over-dressed.