By: Eric Thorn
Most organizations have periodic staff meetings to share information and keep everyone’s efforts coordinated. It is very easy for these meetings to become routine and fall into a pattern or rut over time. If things become too routine, lapses of attention and yes, even the dreaded B word, Boredom, can occur.
You may be asking, what’s the big deal? As long as the information gets out the meeting has served its purpose, end of story. Well…not so much. Your staff meetings and other office meetings are not important just because of the information that needs to be conveyed and shared. Having everyone together is a valuable opportunity to get everyone engaged in your company’s mission, reinforce your organizational culture, and to learn about and interact with some of those you work with whom you may not interact with on a daily basis. These opportunities are too valuable to waste.
All that from a company meeting? Is that really true? How do we do that? First let’s look at how to get everyone engaged and then the benefits we just mentioned will be more clear. It’s not enough to just
talk louder or require participation. And most states have laws against electric shock, swatting people with fly swatters or randomly launching water balloons at less than engaged meeting participants. So with that in mind, the following are three good ways to help everyone get the most out of your regular staff or company meetings.
#1 Mix it Up – Use Multiple and Different Presenters
Don’t fall into the trap of having the same people give the same reports each meeting. While it may be necessary for certain people to provide the information for updates, simply having different team members collect and present the updates on a rotating basis from meeting to meeting is a great way to get them engaged. In addition to providing your audience with some variety from meeting to meeting, rotating who presents helps junior team members to internalize the information and develop their public speaking skills. The format that works best for this and the following strategies will vary depending on the size of your organization.
#2 Seize the Opportunity – Use the Agenda to Build Organizational Culture
Having everyone together is a great opportunity to build your organizational culture. Simply including a trivia question or an ice breaker is a great way to highlight information about different clients, your company history or different staff members. You can have a newer staff member answer a few predetermined questions about themselves as a way of helping the rest of the team learn a little more about them. You can have a trivia contest with a small prize or gift certificate for whomever answers the most trivia questions over the course of several months.
At Partners in Association Management we assign a different team member to come up with two or three trivia questions for each meeting. You may wish to set the topics for the trivia questions. For example, you could set that one trivia question needs to relate to your company history, one question relates to a client, and one could be something interesting about a team member or a wildcard that is just an interesting piece of trivia. You can also have an ice breaker question each week and depending on the size of your group go around the room or randomly pick three people to share their answer out loud with the group.
#3 Find the Fun – Keep it Fresh
If you incorporate the above suggestions, it will make your meetings more engaging. But remember that once something becomes a routine, it’s routine. That’s not all bad, but if you want everyone to get the most out of your meetings, every now and then it is important to try something fresh and fun. For example, at a recent Partners staff meeting one of our owners employed a fresh approach to our client reports.
At each Partners staff meeting a different staff person from each
client team collects and presents the client updates to the whole group. Well, at this particular meeting we were asked give the report in a foreign language, in rap, as a limerick, sung or in an accent or impersonation of a famous character.
The first report was delivered by a bilingual member of our staff in Spanish (translation provided). This really showcased her language skills which some were probably not aware of. The rap and limerick rhymed surprisingly well, especially considering that no one was given advance warning that any of this would take place.
The next report was sung. While it may have highlighted the presenter’s bravery more so than the musical composition, it was very humorous and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. This was followed by an excellent report by a female staff member in a humorous thick Ukrainian accent reminiscent of “Natasha” from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. (You fans of old cartoons and Boris and Natasha know what I’m talking about, for the rest there’s always Google!) And finally, a membership report delivered by in an impersonation of Captain . . . James T, . . ..Kirk. “We’re joining up as fast as we can Captain!” It was an excellent meeting!
While this may sound whimsical, doing this highlighted some real talents of several of our team members, taught us a bit more about each other, made everyone laugh, and made the meeting a lot of fun. It seemed to have a positive impact on everyone’s mood for at least the next couple of days. While this is not something we will do at every meeting, I doubt we have seen the last of this kind of approach. Just the possibility of something like this happening at a staff meeting changes peoples approach to the meeting and each other.
You may be surprised how much company history, client information, and information about fellow team members your group will learn just by building in a few minutes for these items into each meeting agenda. You may also be surprised at the effect on engagement and positive morale. So mix it up, try something new, keep it fresh, and transform your staff meetings and other company meetings from a routine and potentially boring snooze-fest to a substantive but more fun and engaging meeting that will help to build everyone’s knowledge about your organization, your clients, and each other.