Staff meetings have become the “necessary evil” we accept as the price of collaborating in the workplace. How companies approach meetings tends to remain relatively consistent throughout an organization over time. Sure, certain sessions are sometimes slightly more useful or fun than usual—but staff meetings can quickly become stagnant and time-consuming if there’s something about them that’s causing participants to disengage.
Want to refresh your next staff meeting and beyond? Here are four ideas for making the most of every conference—whether ad hoc or scheduled in advance.
Consequences of Ineffective Staff Meetings
There are a lot of downsides to ineffective meetings. As Harvard Business Review notes, time is zero-sum. That means every second meeting participants waste in an unproductive meeting is a second they won’t be able to spend focusing on their work. Now multiply the effects across every employee in attendance and you can see how this phenomenon starts to chip away at your bottom line.
Another consequence of subpar meetings is frustration. There are many ways meetings can go awry—from participant boredom to arguments erupting—but they’re all capable of leaving a bad taste in the mouth of attendees, which puts camaraderie and company culture itself at risk.
Instead of approaching your next meeting with an attitude of “same old, same old,” try incorporating new staff meeting ideas from Poll Everywhere, as they are meant to boost engagement and productivity.
Idea #1: Set an Intentional Tone Right Away
Do you find people shuffling into your staff meetings, expecting another straightforward session they will tune out after a few minutes? Aim to set a positive, upbeat and efficient tone from the first word. How? By making sure whoever speaks first leads by example. This may be a facilitator, manager or someone delivering a presentation. Either way, it’s important the first person to have the floor sets a precedent that makes people sit up a little straighter and listen—then eventually want to match it when their turn comes to contribute.
Idea #2: Host a Question-and-Answer (Q&A) Session
At their best, meetings are an opportunity to facilitate open and honest conversation that drives more informed decision-making. But we all know how easy it is for discussions to get off track, which causes people to disengage. The truth is, discussions that go round-and-round, requiring everyone to raise their hands and chip in their two cents, could often be streamlined into a single Q&A. This would allow everyone to contribute insights without having to wade through a lengthy, convoluted discussion.
Consider implementing Q&A sessions, with the option to contribute anonymously, as a way of taking temperature quickly or kick-starting discussions. You can also solicit both open-ended responses and answers to multiple-choice questions.
Idea #3: Make It a Standing Meeting
Not every meeting benefits from people sitting back and getting comfortable, especially if that encourages people to embody a passive role rather than an active one. For meetings meant to be brief yet engaging, try standing. Researchers found standing creates more of a shared workspace feeling than individual seats do.
Of course, there are a few things to consider here. It’s important to make accommodations for people who can’t physically stand for minutes at a time, or those who don’t feel comfortable doing so. It’s also important to keep any “stand ups” you host brief: no more than 15 minutes.
Idea #4: Timebox, But Keep It Fun and Light
Timeboxing involves allotting a set amount of time that begins when an individual begins talking and limits them if they exceed the parameters. It’s a useful timekeeping strategy, but it doesn’t have to be harsh or dull. Think about awards shows cue music—and get creative in how you call time in your own meetings. A funny sound or creative cue goes a long way in breaking the tension.
These four ideas will help you refresh your next staff meeting so you get the most out of it.