You know how it is:
Productive meetings are hard to come by.
But what if your team members would be engaged right from the start?
Today, you’ll learn eight simple and fun tricks you can use to start a meeting. Use them to get people excited to attend and participate in your meetings – in the end, that’s what it takes to hold meetings that actually make a difference.
Start with a joke and encourage others to make them
Did you know that positive emotions at work lead to better results in life and in business? Yup, according to research, happy employees are 12% more productive.
So you want your workplace to be an environment where people thrive and think happy thoughts. But how?
Start with your meetings.
Obviously, you want your meeting room to be a place where people feel like they can share their thoughts. And that requires you to ease the tension.
So why not start with a joke?
It’s a great way to tell a story and according to science, storytelling is one of the best ways to resonate with people. People remember stories and they engage when they hear them. Humor is one of the best ways to make your message (or meeting agenda) stick.
What’s the outcome?
First, you’ll get your coworkers laughing. But they’ll also feel at ease to share things with each other. And that’s what makes your meeting so much more rewarding for everyone.
Get out of the rut by doing something unexpected
It happens so easily:
Routines start feeling like obligations after a while.
Have a regular weekly or monthly meeting? Shake things up a bit and start your meetings in an unexpected way. Doing something differently than you normally do might be just what you need to keep people engaged in your meetings.
Here are just a few examples of things you can do:
- Go on a morning walk.
- Meditate for ten minutes.
- Do yoga or stretches for a few minutes.
- Start your meeting at a nearby coffee shop.
Doing things a bit differently and getting out of old habits now and again has a couple of benefits.
First, your team will be more engaged at your meeting. Second, getting out of old habits can give you valuable new perspectives and a creativity boost. You never know what new ideas you’ll brainstorm during your meetings.
Start your meeting by getting people to play
OK, here’s an interesting idea.
What if you and your team sat down and… played.
Hear me out here:
If people can play with things during your meeting, it might make it easier for them to relax their minds, relieve stress and get focused. At least, that’s what science says.
Use toys like stress balls, coloring pens and papers and coloring books.
Or, take it to the next level. Make it a team effort and use lego bricks or a puzzle.
Lego bricks and puzzles have another advantage. According to research, people feel they have to finish a task they’ve started working on. So, let your co-workers work on one specific thing over several meetings. Your meeting attendees will feel like they have to get to your meeting because they’ll want to finish what they started.
You get excited meeting participants who WANT to attend your meeting.
Share their successes to get their attention
Want people to pay attention throughout your meeting?
Start your meeting by sharing their successes – things they’ve done well the past week or month.
This does a few things for you:
First, research shows that people are affected by kind words and flattery even on a subconscious level. Subsequently, meeting participants will look forward to your next meeting. After all, they have an incentive: to get some well-earned positive feedback in front of their coworkers.
Second, you make your organization a nicer workplace. If you set the right example, people will start mimicking it. And that, in turn, means you get happier coworkers.
Now, you don’t want to make up nice things for the sake of it. People will see through false flattery. But highlight skills and strengths in a genuine way. For example, highlight a successful project. Or thank a coworker who always makes people around him or her smile.
You’ll see your meeting engagement skyrocket.
Challenge them in their work
According to Harvard Business Review, happy employees feel challenged in their work. And happy employees mean increased productivity.
So why not use this in your meetings?
Challenge people right from the start. Make your meeting interactive and ask for everyone’s advice.
For example, start by asking people to solve a business challenge your team is facing. Or ask them to share their own struggles and let everyone else brainstorm a solution.
Don’t overcomplicate this, though. If you don’t have time to solve a business challenge, start your meeting with a simple challenge. This could be something like a riddle. Even a simple challenge will wake people up and you’ll have a productive meeting from start to finish.
Start your meeting with an inspirational message
Want your meeting to be truly inspirational? You know, the kind of meeting that gets people to take action and move forward.
Yes? Then, start your meeting by sharing an inspirational message. For example, show an insightful TED talk. Or share a quote you like or an interesting article.
Whatever it is, the point is to share a message that inspires your coworkers to think in new ways. Your meeting will actually make a difference. And during it, meeting participants will pay attention.
Will people be more creative at your meeting and enjoy it more? You bet.
Ease the tension with fun icebreakers
If there’s one way to start a meeting that’s both effective AND fun, it’s this:
With a simple icebreaker, you get people to relax from the start. As a result, generating ideas and making decisions gets a lot easier.
Another benefit is that you get to know your coworkers on a completely different level. And this, again, is a powerful way to build a team.
Now, there are several icebreakers you can use in your meetings. The sky is the limit here, but below are some examples you can use:
Share a life or career goal
Here’s icebreaker #1:
Ask everyone share one life or career goal.
Start with sharing your own goal and encourage others to follow suit. Remember: it doesn’t need to be your wildest and biggest dream. Something small is just fine – like a skill you want to develop in your career or a hobby you want to learn.
Three truths and one lie
You know this game:
Everyone tells four facts about themselves. Three of them are true – and one is a lie. Everyone else has to figure out which of the facts is a lie… And that can result in a few laughs.
Imitate famous people
If your team likes charades, this icebreaker will be a hit.
Start by brainstorming a few famous people everyone knows. So for example people like Charlie Chaplin, Mick Jagger, J.K. Rowling and so forth. Then write each name on one piece of paper.
Randomly assign the names to meeting participants so that everyone has one name. Just make sure no one knows who their famous person is.
Every meeting participant sticks the name to his or her forehead so that everyone else can see it.
Now everyone else imitates the famous person. The person with the name on his/her forehead guesses which name they have.
Will this break the ice in the meeting room?
Want your meetings to be fun? Make it happy hour
Want to be the most popular person in the meeting room?
Hold a happy hour!
Now, you can’t start every meeting like this. But if you want to celebrate a success or welcome the weekend (and your meeting is late in the afternoon), few things can make meetings more fun than a happy hour.
This is a great way to get to know your team members a bit better. Plus, why not continue with team building activities once you’ve ended your meeting?
Just a tip:
Start with the most important thing on your agenda. Your team members might be in a bit celebratory mood later on in the meeting…
Conclusion: Engage meeting participants right from the start
There you have it:
These eight simple tips can make a huge difference for your meetings. Start them the right way and people will look forward to your meetings.
Your meeting engagement will not be the same again. In the end, that means productive and effective meetings.
Over to you:
We love hearing from you, so let us know your best tip to start a meeting. Write in the comments below!