7 clever methods for jazzing up mundane meetings

Your 11:15 to 11:45 gathering is in its third hour. Hangry colleagues are glaring at each other or playing Sudoku on their phones. Nothing is getting done. Here’s how to break the cycle.

It’s common to get trapped in a two-hour meeting, discussing irrelevant topics and losing sight of your day.

However, if you conduct them correctly, meetings can be productive, engaging and to the point. Though it can be a struggle to check off all three things, some companies are getting creative about meetings.

From Pixar’s Note’s Day to Buffer’s Masterminds, check out these seven out-there ways companies are revamping their meetings:

1. Note’s Day. On this day, Pixar puts things on pause to facilitate companywide brainstorming sessions. Employees gather in small teams to share ideas and discuss relevant issues and company challenges. Leaders from various departments drop in on other teams’ meetings to hear and understand disparate viewpoints.

2. Goalfest. Cloud computing platform DigitalOcean developed a way of reaching goals and tracking performance. In a weekly, hourlong meeting,team members join a shared Google Spreadsheet, where they each set and share their goals for the coming week and publicly score the previous week’s goals. This keeps employees accountable, and it opens discussions for improvements, recognition and challenges.

3. Masterminds. Buffer’s program Masterminds is one of the forces behind the social media management company’s happy and effective workforce. Because the entire team works remotely, the company came up with a creative way to connect employees. Masterminds pairs team members to provide regular support and advice to each other. They connect weekly to share progress and achievements, as well as challenges and setbacks.

4. Talks at Google. The tech giant launched Talks at Google, inviting outsiders to speak on a range of topics. Whether you’re at Google, at a million-dollar startup or on a six-person team, bringing in influential speakers and resources from outside the company can keep things fresh and innovative within the company. Suddenly, meetings are far less boring.

5. Hackathons. Startups, tech companies and other organizations hold companywide hackathons in which employees collaborate intensely on tech-related projects. They’re part of Facebook’s DNA and one of its oldest traditions. Facebook’s regular hackathons encourage employees to interact and collaborate, and they’ve spawned features such as like tagging friends in Facebook comments and “liking” friends’ posts.

6. Moment of Zen. At the end of every internal meeting, tech company Poll Everywhere has a Moment of Zen, when colleagues take time, as a group, to learn something new or reflect on their day. Leaders share inspiring quotes or stories, and team members discuss wins and highlights and compliment their co-workers.

7. The ‘swear jar.’ No one likes a two-hour meeting that was scheduled to be 30 minutes. Lost time from meetings is a common phenomenon. The team at Tripping.com found a fun a solution: Anytime a meeting goes over 30 minutes, the person who called the meeting must put $5 into the company’s “swear jar” (the happy hour fund).

A version of this post first appeared on the Calendar blog.

COMMENT

2 Responses to “7 clever methods for jazzing up mundane meetings”

      Robby Brumberg says:

      HANGRY is indeed the dreaded combo of simultaneous ANGER and HUNGER. Bill, I enjoyed your tip on avoiding procrastination, and I’d like to cite it in an upcoming piece, if you don’t mind. Thanks very much. — Robby

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