Seth Godin just wrote a short blog on walking that got me thinking about this. He talks about taking a walk to re-boot; to change your mood or get over a bump in a relationship with someone by changing the environment. It’s solid advice.
About 10 years ago Bicycling Magazine did their January editorial on how to shake up your meetings. I wrote about that previously here. We all have too many meetings and find most of them too long. Or not productive. Or boring. Or all of the above.
The Bicycling editorial had a perfectly good solution. And a challenge. Do your first meeting of the New Year in a different environment. On a bike. Take your group for a ride and see how different the discussion is. I still haven’t tried it, but I do know that my personal discussions on a bike are very different than those off. They are much more genuine. I can see how it could be an effective way to shake things up. But I also protect those moments for myself as non-working ones, which is why a decade after reading the Bicycling editorial, I haven’t done a bike meeting. It could be right for you, though.
So what works for me? I have done what Seth suggests with meetings. Take them to go. Reset the mood by taking it outdoors, in the fresh air. I haven’t done it in a while because many of my meetings involve people in different locations, but just taking a group outside to sit at a picnic table can completely change the dialogue and the dynamic. Read more about the logistics of walking meetings here on FastCompany.com.
I don’t think all meetings need to be shaken up but I do agree with what Seth says. Being outside changes your mood. It could be just what you need to work through a challenge or a creative block. And if the meeting topic is one you don’t like then definitely take it for a walk.
Most meetings can be made more productive and sometimes just changing the tempo the slightest bit is all it takes to get it on track. Take a shot at it the next time you find yourself in a meeting thinking, “this could be better.”
What can you do to shake your meetings up and get a fresh perspective for the New Year? Resolve to make your meetings better in 2015, and reap the rewards of greater productivity.
Here are some other ideas for more productive meetings:
- Have meetings standing up (Entrepreneur.com).
- Don’t allow latecomers (or penalize them by making them tell a joke on the spot) (Inc.com).
- Assign every task a “DRI,” Directly Responsible Individual (from Apple, on 99u.com).
- Make participants check their devices; keep meetings cell-phone free zones (BufferApp.com).
- Keep meetings to 15 minutes, or as short as you can go (BufferApp.com).
- Don’t include people who don’t add value (FastCompany.com).
- Have a 30 second “closing round” for last thoughts before wrapping up (Inc.com).
- Rotate the facilitator (daily stand-up meeting tips, Agile-style, on MartinFowler.com).
Let us know what works for you in the comments.
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