Meetings have earned a bad reputation in the workplace.
Not only do people think they’re a waste of time. Employees also find them incredibly boring. A January study of more than 2,000 adults in the United States by Clarizen and Harris Poll discovered some employees would much rather watch paint dry (17 percent), commute four hours (12 percent) or endure a root canal (8 percent) than attend a boring meeting. Ouch.
Although it’s nearly impossible to get rid of meetings altogether, here are six ways to make them more fun and engaging:
1. Schedule 10-minute team huddles.
Sixty percent of respondents in the Clarizen study reported that they spent more time preparing for status meetings than participating in them.
Replace unproductive status meetings with daily 10-minute gatherings. HubSpot schedules daily informal “huddles” for employees to check in with one another.
This can be effective because employees can talk about what they accomplished the day before and what they plan to achieve today, without wasting time preparing a report.
2. Incorporate interactive activities.
Upbeat and interactive agendas can boost the energy level of a meeting. Instead of relying on a boring PowerPoint presentation, introduce fun activities and different forms of media.
Try starting a meeting with an inspirational YouTube video or go around the room and ask everyone to share something positive about the day. A workplace meeting can also incorporate fun icebreakers to engage attendees.
3. Change locations.
Meeting in the same conference room over and over again can can become dull. Consider switching the meeting location to different places in the office or schedule an off-site gathering. Just be sure to clearly indicate the venue on the agenda.
A client of mine, ClearCompany, hosts its annual planning meeting off-site to help connect employees who work from different locales. The agenda includes discussion of business topics along with fun activities.
“We make sure to celebrate the accomplishments of our people frequently, and our annual planning meeting is a good opportunity to do so formally,” ClearCompany marketing director Sara Pollock shares by email. "We bring everyone together for a full day of analysis of the past year’s performance and planning for the next year,” she says. “It is a long day, and we celebrate as a group at the end.”
4. Exercise. Have fun.
Instead of a meeting lulling employees to sleep, get them moving with exercise. Halfway through a meeting, ask members to take a five-minute walking break, stage a mini-dance party or perform a short workout routine.
“We believe in a little healthy competition, and meetings have been known to end with a friendly round of Rock Band,” Pollock writes. “Our developers almost always take the crown on this one, but I’m hoping someone else will join the winner’s circle soon.”
5. Eliminate meetings altogether.
Sometimes meetings aren’t truly necessary at work. Digital Onion CEO Tony Wong, a project-management expert, found a way to eliminate meetings completely.
Wong suggested one of his clients do away with early-morning meetings. This let leaders prioritize their to-do lists and determine when a meeting is truly warranted.
“Meetings in corporate (and startup) America are rampant,” Wong shares via email. “Many people spend 35 hours per week in meetings. That’s 88 percent of their time,“ he says. "I’ve been working with clients to cut back meetings to 50 percent or less of their workweek.”
6. Schedule monthly gatherings to build engagement.
Relationship building is at the core of productive workplaces. LinkedIn’s Relationships @Work study last year found that 46 percent of more than 11,500 professionals surveyed said their friendships with co-workers made them happier.
Instead of hosting boring staff meetings, replace them with fun and engaging meet-ups to spark engagement. Every month The Bouqs, an online flower-delivery firm, hosts town-hall interviews of selected employees before their co-workers.
"By interviewing our employees, we learn more about who they are as people outside of the workplace,” writes The Bouqs CEO John Tabis in an email. “It’s fun, fascinating and insightful and builds real bonds among the team.”
What are some ways you have improved dull meetings?