There has been some buzz lately about the “walking meeting”. While not a new phenomenon, (Aristotle was said to have walked with his students as he taught) the most recent iteration is said to enable groups to be more productive and creative. While enjoying physical activity that energizes, group members are more alert and experiencing different environments which can inspire new ideas and stimulate new thinking.
But, let’s be realistic! In our busy back-to-back meeting packed day, the only walking you may do is down the hall for another cup of coffee. So for those meetings that must take place around a conference table, here are some tips to keep meetings crisp, on-pace and fruitful.
Determine the objective: Meeting agendas function as a roadmap for a meeting. They’re essential. Is this a regular weekly meeting? Are new plans and ideas being introduced, or just updates on ongoing projects? Make sure the agenda is designed with outcomes in mind. This will keep the team focused, on time and result in the most tangible next steps and agreed-upon plans.
You cannot be over-prepared: There’s no such thing when it comes to planning a meeting. Are there ample meeting agendas printed? Will visual aids be required? If multimedia is necessary, test out computer, video and audio beforehand or you may end up presenting with shadow puppets! Always have presentations backed up on a laptop or thumb drive in case you need access.
Ponder the participants: Does every team member need to be present? Unless they have a role, perhaps not. Make sure team members know their role whether they’re leading the meeting, explaining a section or coordinating refreshments and décor. Everyone should know their part.
Best Type of Skype: There are some specific rules for a Skype meeting including: think about your dress and surroundings before initiating or accepting a video call. Extremely casual dress, strange settings, colleagues walking by in the background, and close-up views of eating are just a few examples of Skype “don’ts”.
Make some noise: It may be instinctual for some to stick with the status quo during a meeting: Wrong! Of course there’s a time and place for comments, but feel free to express valuable thoughts and ideas that will help move the meeting forward.
Own your mistakes and learn from them: Every meeting offers an opportunity to improve. Are staff meetings losing steam over time? Are agenda items languishing from week to week? Is everyone on their iPhone?
Maybe you should try a walking meeting! We’d love to hear any meeting do’s and don’ts you may have.