3 ways to breathe life into weekly meetings

Online Meeting or Face to face meeting

What’s more fun than a weekly meeting? Pretty much anything. Each week, you and your co-workers go down the same list of initiatives, in that same dry tone. Perhaps it’s just inevitable that weekly meetings become predictable, repetitive and sleep-inducing. Seriously, if you suffer from insomnia, just attend one bad weekly meeting and you’ll be cured.

Recurring meetings are like sitcoms. A bad one is like a bad sitcom — so utterly predictable and formulaic that it eventually has to resort to jumping the shark to keep your attention. (Or perhaps one of your co-workers shows up in a hot dog suit.)

A good weekly meeting is like a great sitcom — the same characters you’ve come to know and love, doing the zany things you know they’ll do, but in ways that somehow still surprise you and keep you interested.

Like a sitcom, recurring meetings need just as much continual honing and evolution to keep your colleagues at the edge of their seats. What worked last week might not work this week. Predictability gets boring. The thing that was revolutionary a month ago has now become a corporate meme. You’ve got to keep it fresh, authentic, interesting and still productive.

Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Give it a new intro
Nothing freshens up an old sitcom like a great new intro. So, how do you start your weekly meetings? Do you dive straight into business every week, fearing the office productivity hound will be nipping at your heels? Meetings that start like that often leave people feeling a bit empty, like they just spent half an hour with their team without really understanding what’s going on or connecting with anyone. Feeling rushed also doesn’t leave a lot of room for impromptu conversations or discoveries, which is the best part of face-to-face time.

Try starting your meetings a different way. You could try a quick warm-up, like crazy eights: everyone gets up and counts down from eight on each limb until you make it down to one. Or, for smaller teams, do a stretch-and-share: go around the room and let each person pick a simple stretch while sharing a one-sentence story from the past week.

If you don’t want to do a warm-up involving everyone, you could just have a different person share something interesting (or hard, or funny) each week. Whatever you choose, it will get folks perked up, a bit more energised and wondering what to expect next.

2. Take your characters in new directions
It’s always fun when your favorite sitcom character’s mum comes to town or someone decides to take an odd job that they’re terrible at. So take your co-workers out of their comfort zone and rotate who leads the meeting or who takes notes.

If there is a review and discussion involved, assign one person to be the devil’s advocate and one person to be the cheerleader. This gives everyone an opportunity to do something they might not normally do. Maybe it’ll even be a little scary (which is a good thing).

Giving people specific roles and changing those roles every so often will breathe some new life into your weekly meeting.

3. Same plot, different order
Perhaps you’d be shocked to know how many people aren’t really listening in your weekly meetings, or maybe you already have a pretty good idea. Either way, you have to get people to pay attention — or else, what’s the point?

Try changing it up by starting from the middle or the bottom of the agenda, or even randomising the order. This way the folks who usually know when to tune in and out get thrown off and have to pay attention.

You could also make the meeting a bit more interactive and ask each person to jot down one or two things they’d like to know more about as each person shares. A little bit of active listening will give folks a specific reason to focus and pay attention.

You want your weekly meetings to be productive, but that doesn’t mean they can’t feel spontaneous. If you put some simple systems in place, you can have productive weekly meetings that people look forward to. And then, who knows, your show might stand a chance of getting renewed for another season.


Insider's Guide to Better Meetings

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  • infield

    We always start ours with a ‘biscuit or cake minute’, which is a pretty good way of cheering people up.

    Also, our meeting is on a Friday morning, so it’s nearly the weekend and everyone feels happier.

    • Gemma, Citrix Interactions

      I love the idea of bringing biscuits/cakes (any sort of food goodies!) to the meeting. That way people are more likely to be in a positive frame of mind right from the start. Thanks for sharing.


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