What if your meetings were some of the most creative meetings out there?
Good news: Meetings don’t have to be unproductive snoozefests.
Here are 4 steps to extremely creative meetings.
Why creative meetings matter
First things first:
Why do creative meetings even matter?
After all, we don’t want to just throw around a buzzword without thinking through if the word has any meaning at all.
For starters, 82% of executives see creativity as beneficial to business.
An IBM survey shows that CEOs see creativity as the most important factor for future success.
And according to McKinsey, creative companies tend to perform better. Why? Well, creativity is crucial for business growth.
Meetings are teamwork and at the heart of most business communication.
That’s why it makes sense to incorporate creativity into your meetings.
That’s what we’ll look at next.
Step 1: Set the stage for creative meetings
The first step?
Set the stage for creative meetings.
After all, creativity doesn’t just happen.
One way or another, innovative organizations encourage creativity.
When Pixar works on a new movie, its employees immerse themselves in the movie’s environment. Inspiration breeds creativity.
So, be intentional in how you set up your meetings. Don’t just expect for creativity to happen.
If you’re thinking, “Sounds good, but how do I do it?”, look no further. Here are the top tips for setting up creative meetings.
#1. Use icebreakers to help people get past that initial awkwardness
We’ve written about them before- icebreakers.
Icebreakers are great for getting people to open up fast and get past that initial stage of awkwardness that destroys creative brainstorming.
So how do you use icebreakers? And what icebreakers can you use?
An icebreaker can be as simple as this:
Share a fun fact about yourselves.
Want to go deeper? Share your career goals or a life goal.
You could also use the game “three truths and one lie” (everyone shares four facts and the others guess which fact is false).
Another example? Ask everyone to share the highlight of their week, a win they recently had, or a co-worker who helped them over the past week.
#2. Make your meeting all about play
Kids are creative, aren’t they?
Why is that? One thing is that they’re not afraid of coming off as stupid or ridiculous.
But what more, they play- a lot.
And that makes them all the more creative.
Now, adults benefit from playing, too.
You can use this in your meetings.
Does it sound silly? After all, we’re talking people in meeting rooms… playing.
Maybe. But then again, being fine with being a bit silly opens up for more creative ideas.
So the question is:
How can you use this in your meetings?
Keep it simple.
You can use fun games like “Would you rather?” (people choose between two options what they’d rather do and give a reasoning why). Or charades, where people imitate famous people to get the others to guess who it is they’re imitating.
You could also use toys, like Playdoh, board games, or creative figures.
But that’s not all there is to creative meetings.
You also want to use your agenda to make sure your meeting is as productive as possible.
Step 2: Use your agenda (yes, a creative meeting is a structured meeting)
Now you know how to incorporate creativity into your meetings.
But how do you make sure they stay on track? That they’re productive? That the meeting leads to a goal?
Use your agenda.
Your agenda gives your meeting structure. Without it, it’s hard to meet any concrete goals. (Because how do you know what to discuss to get to that goal?)
With an agenda, you define your meeting’s purpose.
And the steps you need to take to get to that goal. So that you can keep track of your meeting steps and make sure you achieve it.
Step 3: Let everyone be heard
One of the keys to a creative meeting is to get different opinions.
Your meeting room is packed with people who have valuable insights. There wouldn’t be any point in not hearing all of them, right?
So how do you listen to everyone? And how do you get people to share?
Sure, you can simply let anyone talk who has something to say. But chances are that you’ll have a hard time getting anything else than the consensus. Or that the same people will be the talkers while everyone else listens politely.
But there are ways to get people to open up.
Here are a few:
#1. Use improv methods
A great way to get people to brainstorm is to not take “I don’t know” for an answer.
Instead, use this improv method:
Every time someone shares an idea, the next person says, “Yes, and…” and continues on that thought-pattern.
Simple? You bet. But also effective to get everyone to chime in.
#2. Play the devil’s advocate
A great way to get those differing opinions?
Play or appoint someone as the devil’s advocate.
Whenever an idea is voiced, the devil’s advocate contradicts and questions the idea.
That way, you get the most interesting discussions going.
#3. The staring competition
You COULD ask everyone around the table to share an idea…
Or, you can take it one step further.
Go around the table and stare at every person until they come up with something new to say.
Note that this doesn’t work in every team culture.
But if your co-workers are comfortable with being publicly challenged in this way, great.
#4. The coaching session
Finally, you (or someone else) can act as a coach.
After all, your meetings can be amazing opportunities for group coaching.
Instead of being satisfied with an idea or insight, dig deeper.
Ask open-ended questions, listen, and ask follow-up questions.
You can also use this to group coach your team.
Get people to give each other support and feedback. Encourage them to ask more questions and get deeper into ideas.
You might be surprised to see how effectively your coaching support can provoke those groundbreaking ideas.
Step 4: Work on your team culture outside of meetings
Your team culture is, and will always be, important for how creative your meetings are.
After all, if you have a coherent culture where your co-workers feel like they belong, it’s much easier for them to open up during meetings.
And that’s what you need for creative meetings.
That’s why you can’t leave it to individual meetings to create a more creative team culture.
If creativity isn’t prioritized outside of the meeting room, your co-workers won’t suddenly turn into creative geniuses during your meeting.
So how do you incorporate creativity in your everyday work?
#1. Build a diverse team
First and foremost:
The structure of your team matters in how creative it is.
If everyone shares the same background and skill sets, how creative can they really be as a group?
That’s why it’s important to build a team of people with different opinions, backgrounds, education, and skills.
That’s when real, insightful discussions are born.
So to foster creativity at the workplace and in your meetings, put extra effort into hiring a diverse team.
#2. Let people take ownership
Let people take ownership.
What does it mean?
Give space for people to take ownership of their tasks.
Instead of micromanaging and keeping your team tied to a certain way of working, give them space to feel as if they have full ownership of their work.
Also, follow Google’s example and give your co-workers a set number of hours to work on their own projects every month.
Why? Because it helps people get creative. Plus, major Google products like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google News originate from Googlers’ side projects.
#3. Encourage curiosity
Finally, encourage your team to be curious.
Is there a new solution on the market? Awesome, give them space to explore it.
Plus, encourage learning. Encourage your team to go to conferences, learn from in-person and online trainings, and to dedicate time every week or month to reading and taking in new material.
Ready to create more creative meetings?
There you have it- that’s exactly how to make sure your meetings are as creative as possible.
At the end of the day, creativity is at the heart of business innovation and growth.
And that’s why incorporating creativity into your meetings is so important.
So the question is:
How are you going to use these steps?
My tip? Start with the first step… And then go on from there.
What’s your favorite tip for more creative meetings? Something that’s worked for you?
Leave a comment below.