Leading a good meeting and keeping the schedule moving is difficult enough, but making the entire meeting and event fun and interesting is even more difficult. Whether you are leading a weekly staff meeting, a teleconference, or a big convention, it is important to make the gathering fun. Below are a few quick tips to keep the energy up in meetings.
- Keep It Short: The longer that a meeting is (or the longer that a session in a meeting is) the less energy your audience will have about the meeting. If you are scheduling a weekly staff meeting, set a time limit (30 minutes is usually plenty of time). If you are organizing a convention or banquet, insert breaks at least every 90 minutes. When audience members sit for more than an hour, they will begin to lose interest no matter how good the speaker or presentation is. They will also want to refill their coffee and go to the bathroom. So schedule lots of breaks.
- Change It Up: In baseball, coaches teach pitchers to change the speed and change the location of the ball. This makes it more difficult for the hitter to see a pattern, but it also makes the hitter have to pay attention constantly. Your audience is the same way. They need variety. So don’t just organize speaker after speaker after speaker with slideshow after slideshow. Invite a guest speaker from outside the organization or insert a fun activity into the agenda. Do breakout sessions in the afternoon or even insert a few hours of free time into the agenda so that your team can enjoy the hotel or resort.
- Be the Example: Your audience will never have any more energy than the leader, so if you want your group to be excited about the meeting, you as the leader must have a little more energy than you want them to have. Enthusiasm is very transferable, though, so if you are the spark, your team will ignite.
Years ago, I set a goal for our company to have our first $2,000,000 year, and, at the time, it was a pretty big stretch goal. The reward for hitting the goal was an all-expense paid cruise for my entire team, and a month before the end of the year, we were behind. Our staff worked very hard and was able to close some really big contracts in December, and we hit the goal just in the nick of time. So, we had a few days on the cruise ship with the entire group, and we wanted to make sure that we had fun as well as sharpen our ax for the next goal. So instead of scheduling meeting after meeting, we decided to have a few very short meetings starting at about 9 AM and ending by 11:30 AM. The group had the rest of the time to have fun and interact with each other. Surprisingly, though, the group spent most of the time with each other on excursions and dining together. We built fantastic camaraderie, and while the group members were interacting, they were sharing information with one another. Without formally scheduling a lot of meetings, we got even better results.
So Keep It Short, Change It Up, and Be the Example, and you’ll build great camaraderie and have fun at meetings.