Running an engaging team meeting

Running an engaging meeting

Unfortunately, if you ask most people in any organisation, they’ll likely tell you that they attend too many meetings. The first key element in an engaging meeting is knowing what the meeting needs to achieve. If you don’t spell this out, then the meeting lacks direction, drags on too long, and people don’t see the point in being there.

Desired Outcome Statement
A Desired Outcome Statement is a short, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed-upon, Realistic, Time-constrained) statement which shows you what you want to happen at the end of your meeting. An example could be:

By the end of this meeting, we will have an agreement on the current status of our sales, and five actions to give sales a boost.
Having a statement of this sort in place at the beginning of planning for your meeting enables you to build the entire event with this in mind, including:
  • Setting the topic
  • Inviting the right people
  • Engaging the right people in advance
  • Considering the format of the meeting
It also enables you to check in at regular points throughout the meeting with the participants to get a mutual assessment on whether the meeting is on track, minimising wasted time and getting actions to happen as soon as possible.

Generating ideas at the meeting
There are a number of techniques which you can use to encourage people to generate ideas in your meetings. A popular choice is Reverse Brainstorming.

Whereas people can find it hard sometimes to come up with ideas to solve a problem or address an opportunity, they generally find it easy to come up with bad ideas. Reverse Brainstorming is a fun and effective technique to get people talking and thinking proactively about a problem. It works like this:
  1. Agree with the group what the problem is that needs to be addressed
  2. Ask the group to come up with as many ideas as they can to make the problem worse
  3. Get them to find opposites of these “bad ideas”
  4. These become your good ideas to take forward for further discussion
Forcing Associations
Most useful for improving an existing product or service, or creating a new one, this is a technique which tends to bring a large number of new ideas.

Consider the product or service you’re trying to improve, then pick a random object. This could be anything – a chair, a biro, a mobile phone. Consider the attributes of that random object, and see how you could apply those to your product.

For example, if you were an events company and you associate your event with a digital watch, would there be a way you could create a mobile phone app for your event which gave a 5-minute countdown before the start of the next seminar?

Building an ideas business case
Whichever technique you use to generate ideas from your meeting participants, you need to ensure that something actually happens with your idea at the end of the meeting. To do this, there are certain things you should to your (formal or informal) meeting agenda:
  • Who are the stakeholders and what should we ask/tell them?
  • What are the specific action steps needed?
  • What resources do we require?
  • What are the risks and how can we overcome them?
  • What’s the ratio between the cost and the benefit


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