What's the most boring hour you spend at work every week? There are so many possibilities that it's difficult to pick just one--but chances are that a meeting makes the list. And it's even more likely that your team's regular staff meeting is the dullest, least productive hour in your week.

The problem begins with the fact that every staff meeting is the same as the one last week (and the one the week before that). Usually these meetings have nothing on the agenda but status reporting.

Ted presents sales results. Esmeralda gives an update on the technology improvement initiative. Sanjay shares the details of a new project management process. And you struggle to stay awake.

But here's a simple way to transform staff meetings from dull to dynamic: break the script.

The idea comes from Chip and Dan Heath's book, The Power of Moments, which describes how to create defining moments, "a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful."

In their book, the Heath brothers write about "moments of elevation . . . experiences that rise above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed, motivated."

Some activities--such as games or recitals or celebrations--have built-in peaks. But other areas of life (Staff meetings, I'm looking at you.) can fall depressingly flat.

But there's one simple way you can make any event--including a staff meeting--more memorable. The secret is to break the script--to defy people's expectations of how an experience will unfold. Chip and Dan Heath call this "strategic surprise."

The staff meeting "script" is predictable and well-established: People on the team take turns presenting. Others listen and sometimes comment. Lather, rinse and repeat.

But there are so many easy ways to change the game. If you run staff meetings, build agendas that break the pattern of status-status-status. If you simply participate, use a different technique when it's your turn to share. Either way, here are 5 quick suggestions:

  1. Ask a question instead of presenting information. Brainstorm to solve a problem.
  2. Take the meeting out of the meeting room. Give team members an assignment --find new ideas/products that we can apply to what we do--and take a field trip to a coffee shop, a mall a gym or a supermarket.
  3. Set time limits for presenting. Instead of 10 minutes, ask a team member to give a one-minute update on his/her topic.
  4. Make a poster. Gather old magazines, poster paper, glue sticks and markers. Break out team members into groups of two or three, and ask them to make a poster on a key topic--our objectives, a priority or an initiative.
  5. Hold a trade show. Members of my team wanted to showcase some content they had created for a client. So they created "booths" staffed by team members who had worked on the project. Other staff members walked around to the booths, heard a quick description of what happened and saw a demonstration.

You don't have to complete ban presentations. But you do need to constantly refresh the experience so that it's memorable and meaningful.

Published on: Nov 20, 2017