If you ask most people that are in meetings on a regular basis you will find that many find them boring and unproductive. People gather in a room at a certain time of day for hours on end with people they don’t really like or try to solve a problem. They introduce a problem to the team and then ask for it to be solved within that meeting.
What usually happens next is classic to the meeting circuit and yes there is a meeting circuit. The meeting circuit is when nothing gets accomplished in the first meeting so meetings are scheduled every week introducing new people and clogging up everyone’s calendars. Managers will often have their calendars booked up for days and weeks with meetings for special projects with various people. Much of this is wasted time that could be doing something more productive in their own job. So how do you have a more productive meetings?
Here are 3 tips to instantly make your meetings more productive
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First decide do you need to hold a meeting at all? Do we really need the Accounts Payable team in to talk about creating a design for the ad? I have sat through so many meetings in my time that had nothing to do with me. The overall project may require my department, but it may not have been until the end of the project. There is no need to involve people through issues they can’t control or help with. Don’t waste people’s time!
Tip 1- Environment
Once you have decided to hold the meeting and who really needs to be there ‘Atmosphere” is the first important part of making a meeting more creative. If you think that the stuffy board room with dark brown wood, fluffy leather chairs, with no windows helps people think better you’re wrong. Creative thinking requires people to be relaxed which is why most meetings end with people being told to go and think about a situation and then report back at the next meeting, hence the meeting circuit begins. You may not be able to take the team to a golf course, but changing the location to something more relaxed can go along away to improving the thinking of people. Try taking the meeting outside if the weathers nice, go to another location like a coffee shop, or hold it over lunch. With technology you may be able to have everyone stay at their offices where they are comfortable and can think better. The atmosphere and environment are crucial to helping people think more creatively and creating solutions quickly.
Tip 2-Let people be themselves
Let people be themselves! You may say of course people are themselves, but if you really look at the way people think you will find it is very different for everyone. When some people are thinking about a project you will notice that they pace around the room making everyone dizzy, but that’s how they think. Some like to hold a favourite memento such as a football or baseball that they like to toss that helps them think better. Many people do both! Steve Jobs liked to walk when he had to think about certain projects. So keeping people in a boardroom where they have to sit and don’t have those tools that help them think are not contributing to creative thinking. Let people think the way they like and you will see ideas come in a lot faster making your meetings much more productive.
Tip 3- Take ideas seriously!
Many areas that people struggle with is not necessarily coming up with ideas, but having them taken seriously. Colleagues that don’t find an ideas possible will shut it down as not being logical or feasible. That could be stopping people from putting ideas on the table in fear that the ideas will be laughed at or looked at as someone who just goofing around. That one issue can be holding back some of the best ideas for the project. Creative ideas are meant to be built upon and some times the silliest ideas are the perfect idea to build upon. That first idea may not be logical but may offer something to build on allowing the group to come up with something truly creative and unique. Create an environment where everyone can feel free to offer suggestions and ideas and you will see people eager to be part of your next project.
If you focus on making your meetings fun and engaging by creating a more creative atmosphere and allowing people to be themselves, you too can have more creative and productive meeting.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a creative expert and speaker helping teams be more creative in the workplace. He is an artist, author, podcast and television host helping people be more creative in their careers and businesses. You can learn more about Bruce or book him to speak to your group at www.bruceoutridge.com