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Since mass laryngitis is not an option, you need the Ten Commandments of Meetings. Moreover, you need to post them prominently in meeting rooms so that everyone can begin to follow them – especially the leader. Remember that even Moses had trouble with his unruly flock from time to time, so be prepared for the occasional outburst of the modern corporate version of Baal worship.
Thou Shalt Always Know What Time It Is
The clock is God in meetings. Out of respect for the commitment and sanity of everyone who attends, meetings should never run over the time allotted. Especially regularly scheduled meetings. If the session gets bogged down in an issue, table it for another meeting. If the meeting must conclude by taking an action or decision, then schedule it accordingly. Tell all the participants before the meeting starts that it will go as long as necessary to reach the stated conclusion. Don't mislead people by minimizing the amount of work involved; that kind of trickery will only come back to haunt you.
Thou Shalt Not Forget the Main Reason for Meetings
The only good reason to have meetings is to do something together that you can't do better alone. In business, meetings have three primary purposes: communicating, administering, and deciding. Of these, the first and last are most worthwhile. But the focus of all three kinds of meetings should be action. They should either be communicating the intention to take an action or the results of action that has been taken, administering a plan of action, or deciding among alternative actions. If you find yourself calling meetings – or going to them – that have some other purpose, you're wasting your time. And everyone else's. Find something else to do.
Thou Shalt Remember the Golden Rule of Meetings: Praise in Public, Criticize in Private
Shut off public criticism when it arises. It's extremely destructive to morale and should be prevented. Indeed, much misery could be avoided in the business world if all members of the corporate community would remember a simple fact: if they are working for the same employer, then they are all on the same team. Corporate politics we will always have with us, but that doesn't mean that we have to accept them tamely. Help your vocally critical teammates by making it clear, in advance of each meeting, who is in charge, how long the meeting will last, and what the point of the meeting is. Then deal with attempts to take the meeting in other, more vicious directions as simple misunderstandings of the agreed-upon ground rules. Politely but firmly steer the meeting back to the right terrain.
Thou Shalt Not Convene Meetings Outside of Normal Business Hours
Of course there are times when this commandment must be broken, but they should be reserved for real emergencies. People who schedule meetings for evenings and weekends are merely advertising the embarrassing fact that they have no life - and they're expecting others to give up theirs. That kind of person should not be allowed to run anything, much less part of a modern corporation, because they lack the basic humanity to do a good job. Surviving in the fast-moving, devil-take-the-hindmost business world of today requires good peripheral vision as well as keen understanding of the work involved. Those without the necessary life balance can't possibly understand that world they're in or see around the next business corner.
Thou Shalt Not Use Group Pressure to Logroll Conclusions
It is simply wrong to use meetings to pressure people into agreeing to actions or ideas that they know to be immoral or illegal in order to promote the business of the corporation. Group pressure is a powerful force, especially where jobs are at stake. Don't misuse it to get people to stray from the straight and narrow, or
bend the rules, or set the quotas dangerously high, or cut corners on quality, or any one of a thousand such activities that go on every day in misguided organizations everywhere. Your corporation has a set of values. If it doesn't include adherence to a code of ethics and the rule of law, change the values or find values or find somewhere else to work.
Thou Shalt Not Use Meetings to Destroy Others' Careers
There is enough room in every meeting for a disagreement without making it personal or destructive. More than that, it's wrong – and politically unwise. Modern corporate life has become so ephemeral and its denizens so transient that your past is bound to come back and face you again, and sooner rather than later. A petty triumph at someone else's expense at one job may well prove seriously embarrassing at your next job. Resist the temptation. Curiously, the unstable nature of today's workplace has encouraged people to take the opposite attitude. The thinking seems to run, "I'll never see these people again, so why not cut loose?" But the opposite is almost certainly true.
Thou Shalt Keep the Personal and the Corporate Distinct
There's nothing wrong with having friends at work. But meetings are not for social calls. To be sure, a certain amount of socializing at the beginnings and endings of meetings is part of the grease that keeps the well-oiled corporate machine running smoothly. But the balance should be clearly kept on the side of business. Too much socializing will lead to resentment among the others at the meeting who are not part of the party. More than that, it's inefficient, bad for business, and corrosive for your soul. You need to have a life outside the corporate one. If you find that all your socializing is taking place in business meetings, it's time to change a few things.
Thou Shalt Remember that the Best Model for Meetings Is Democracy, Not Monarchy
Resist the temptation to railroad your fellow participants into a decision you want. You need to lead by moral persuasion, not by virtue of your title. Brute force is not the appropriate mode for meetings, though jujitsu sometimes is. As a leader, you should always strive to understand the sense of the meeting. If you want to issue edicts, publish them in the media available to you. You don't need a meeting to announce a new course of proceeding that is not up for discussion. And watch out for other participants in the meeting trying to take control. Hijacking a meeting is a cherished corporate game, but a nasty one. It's your job as a leader to prevent that from happening.
Thou Shalt Always Prepare a Clear Agenda and Circulate It Beforehand
It is more than courtesy – it is good efficient business practice to think hard about the purpose, nature and structure of a meeting before it takes place. These thoughts should be codified in the form of an agenda and circulated to all participants well in advance of the meeting. Time enough, at any rate, for the participants to prepare whatever they need to in the way of reports, plans, proposals, or the like. Far too often, people who call meetings grossly underestimate the amount of preparation required of the participants.
Thou Shalt Terminate a Regularly Scheduled Meeting When Its Purpose for Being No Longer Exists
If you can no longer clearly state the reason for having a regular meeting, it's time to kill it. Purposes change, and when the meeting has lost its reason fortaking place, be the first one to put an end to it. All periodic meetings should have a stock-taking every few sessions to determine if the meeting still has a purpose. It's just one way to fight corporate bloat and bureaucratic encrustation. Of course, for this discipline to work, you must have decided what the regular meeting was for when it was begun. Goalsetting is just as important in meetings as it is in the rest of corporate life.
The only meetings that people wish had run longer are those magical ones that take place when lovers first set eyes upon one another. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your business meeting is that thrilling. Keep its timing, purpose, and tone in perspective. Live to meet another day.
Dealing with Meeting Notes
A common bad habit I have come across with managers and executives in recent years is the accumulation of unprocessed meeting notes. It is heartbreaking to see so much effort go into the creation of meetings and the capturing of what goes on, and the stress created and value lost from irresponsible management of the results. At least 80 percent of the professionals I work with have pockets of unprocessed meeting notes nested away in spiral notebooks, folders, drawers and piles of papers. Processing your Meeting Notes Process meeting notes by determining what actions are required, and transmitting and storing useful information. What needs to happen now, based on the meeting? And who’s doing it? Make sure you decide if you have any projects and actionable items. If so, decide the next actions on them, and track those in your reminder system. Are there any deliverables other people committed to that you care about? If so, track those on your Waiting For reminder list. Does anyone else need an update or debrief from you? If so, pass that information on appropriately. Is there any information that was shared that doesn’t have action tied to it, but possibly needs to be retrieved in the future? If so, put it in your reference system – into support or information files organized by project, theme or topic. Update client histories and project status reports. Systematically review and process your notes (1) Throw your meeting notes into your in-basket as soon as you can or, (2) Use a check-off system for marking when your notes have been sufficiently reviewed for actions and information to store. If you like to write notes on pads of lined paper (like I do), then option one above is the best. Just tear the notes off as soon as you’re finished with the meeting, and toss them into your in-basket until you can go through them for actions and information to store as reference/support. An advantage over diary-like notetaking is that the original pages of notes themselves can be tossed ASAP, or they can be stored as raw support material in project or topic folders, if that might be useful or comforting as backup later. If you use a spiral or loose-leaf notebook for chronological journal-writing (as many execs do), then option two works, but you must be in the habit of reviewing those notes regularly, and have some way to code that the notes have been processed – either by crossing out the paragraphs, or putting checkmarks in the margins, drawing lines across the page between meetings, thoughts or captured items. It needs to be visually clear what’s been processed and what hasn’t. The advantage to this method is that you could keep the processed notes at hand to retrace things if required, and if you’re carrying a notebook for other reasons anyway, then it’s one less piece of hardware to carry along. If you work with a loose-leaf planner, I recommend that you take notes into a notes tabbed section, and at least once a week clean out all the previous pages to start fresh.
Leading a Meeting
Want to lead your next group meeting, but aren't sure what to do first? Follow these guidelines and it'll be easier than you think! 1. Schedule the Meeting
When scheduling your meeting, consider the information that must be covered, then allocate an appropriate amount of time. Don't try to cram too many agenda topics into a 30-minute meeting. You'll end up going overtime and attendees will become frustrated. On the other hand, don't schedule too much time or the meeting may become slow-moving and get off-topic. Our advice? Being realistic is the best way to allocate an appropriate amount of time for a meeting. Don't get caught up on halves and wholes. Many people will automatically allocate either 30 minutes or a full hour when scheduling a meeting simply because these quantities of time are common and expected. Schedule a 40-minute meeting if that's the amount of time it takes to cover the subject. Don't feel pressured to fill an hour if you don't have an hour of issues to cover. Carefully consider who should be attending the meeting. Only invite those whose attendance is absolutely necessary. If there's someone who should know what happened in the meeting, but whose attendance isn't absolutely necessary, send them a quick e-mail outlining the outcomes of the meeting. All of us already attend too many meetings. These individuals will be thankful for that one extra meeting they DIDN'T have to attend that week. 2. Create the Meeting Information When sending invitations to a meeting, ask attendees if they have any agenda item requests. Once the agenda items have been requested, the agenda must be created at least one day before the meeting is scheduled. This way, you can distribute the agenda to all of the attendees before the meeting begins. 3. Distribute the Meeting Information When participants have the agenda and access to background information before the meeting, it gives them sufficient time to prepare for any discussions or decisions that will occur during the meeting. This also saves time during the meeting. If attendees come to the meeting prepared, less time will be spent answering background information questions and more time for discussing the important issues. When distributing the agenda, remind participants that it's their responsibility to come prepared to the meeting! 4. Lead the Meeting Start your meeting on time! Even if all the attendees haven't arrived, begin when you said you would. Adhering to the schedule sends out a message that you're serious about the meeting and expect attendees to arrive on time. As the meeting begins, provide an overview of agenda items and introduce the overall objective of the meeting. This provides direction for the meeting and reinforces what needs to be accomplished during this time. Introduce each agenda item by mentioning who will speak next and what will be discussed. As the meeting leader, you're responsible for recording the meeting notes, whether it's on an interactive whiteboard, flipchart or in a notebook. This will free participants from the burden of note-taking and encourage richer, more in-depth discussions. It's also your responsibility to keep the meeting on track. This means steering the meeting discussion in a way that fulfills the meeting objectives. If you have difficult personalities in the room or opposing views, this can be challenging! Try using sentences such as, "That's a valid point, but doesn't directly apply to this discussion. Perhaps we should schedule a separate meeting to address it fully." Or, "It's obvious there are some opposing views surrounding this issue. Perhaps our time would be best spent working towards a compromise. Any suggestions?" If a meeting becomes particularly heated, it's best to address what's possible in the meeting but consider hiring a professional facilitator for the next meeting – a neutral leader who's trained to deal with high-pressure, high-conflict meetings.
Items that surface and must be addressed should be assigned during the meeting discussion. Assign a particular individual or group to follow-up on each action item. A deadline and priority level should also be assigned for the action items. 5. Wrap-up the Meeting At the end of the meeting, the leader should review the action items, who's responsible and by when. This way, everyone has a clear picture of who's responsible for what when the meeting's over. Another item that should be addressed at the end of your meeting is the meeting process itself. Take a few moments at the end of the meeting to discuss what the group did well during the meeting and which areas need improving. Once the meeting objective has been accomplished, adjourn the meeting. Even if it's thirty minutes earlier than expected! Don't continue meeting simply because that's what the schedule dictates. 6. Provide the Meeting Information After the meeting is over, send the meeting information to all the participants. Because you were responsible for note-taking during the meeting, you may be the only one who has this information after the meeting ends. Whether you provide the notes by e-mail or photocopied hand-outs, sharing this meeting information is vital for proper follow-up. It's also a good idea to include a summary of all the action items assigned during the meeting. This acts as a reminder to all participants of who's responsible for what and by when.
If you want to have more effective meetings, first you have to learn the basics. Here are some simple, easy-to-follow and proven guidelines that should be followed each and every time your group meets. Print this page. Hang it on your meeting room wall. Write the guidelines on a poster. Memorize them by heart. Do whatever it's going to take to improve your meetings! Guidelines you and your group can follow before, during and after your meeting: 1. Only hold a meeting if necessary. 2. All meetings must have clear objectives. 3. Invite a neutral facilitator to sensitive meetings. 4. All meetings must have an agenda which includes: topics for discussion presenter or discussion leader for each topic time allotment for each topic 5. Meeting information needs to be circulated to everyone prior to the meeting. Make sure to include: meeting objectives meeting agenda location/date/time background information assigned items for preparation 6. Meetings must start precisely on time so as not to punish those who are punctual. This also sets the stage for how serious you are about making the meeting effective. 7. Meeting participants must: arrive on time be well-prepared be concise and to the point participate in a constructive manner 8. Meeting notes must be recorded and made part of the company's meeting information archives.
9. The decisions made by the group must be documented. 10. Assigned action items must be documented, and the host, or an appropriate participant, must be appointed to follow-up on the completion of all action items. 11. Meeting effectiveness must be reviewed at the end of each meeting and suggested improvements applied to the next meeting.
Reexamine your recurring meeting
Of course it's important that every meeting run as smoothly as it can. But this is especially important for recurring meetings – when the same group of people regularly gather to accomplish the same goal. Are your recurring meetings as effective as they could be? The best way to find out is sitting right in front of you – ask the attendees themselves. By directing a few general questions to the people who know the meeting best, you'll get feedback that will quickly help you identify and address any problems that you may not be aware of yourself. To determine if your meeting needs a little tune-up, set aside 15 minutes at the end of a meeting and ask your colleagues the following questions: What is the purpose of this meeting? The answer may seem painfully obvious, but ask this question to make sure everyone has the same expectations. Maybe Jim thinks your monthly project meetings are designed to give everyone a status report. But Denise thinks attendees already know what's happening and views this meeting as a chance to start planning the next phase of the project. Is anything preventing us from achieving our basic goals in this meeting? Are key information holders missing from the meeting? Do the meetings last too long or not long enough? The answers may surprise you. Aspects of the meeting that you thought worked well may be roadblocks to this particular group. What are your suggestions for overcoming these obstacles? This is the perfect opportunity for participants to suggest changes they've been thinking about. You may get insights and solutions that had never occurred to you. And because the solutions are coming from the participants themselves, you'll likely have greater buy-in when it's time to implement them. Secret Survey If your colleagues prefer not to openly discuss all this, ask them to anonymously fill out a questionnaire based on these three questions. Encourage them to be constructive – and creative – when offering solutions. Use What You've Learned Once you've gathered the feedback, spend some time analyzing it. If there isn't consensus on the meeting's purpose, that could be the root of any meeting discontent. Determine why there's confusion and ensure that everyone understands and agrees with the stated goals. Then look for common concerns. If several people raise the same concern, you've got an issue that needs addressing. The solutions offered will likely speak to those concerns, so, again, look for the commonalities. Also consider the feasibility of the solutions. You may not be able to eliminate the meeting, but perhaps you can reduce its length by sending people all the supporting information ahead of time for review. By taking this approach, you'll quickly pinpoint the answers to your meeting problems and have several possible solutions in hand – all specific to the meeting and the people who attend it.
6 Tips to more effective meeting
1. Don't Meet Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report. One of the keys to having more effective meetings is differentiating between the need for one-way information dissemination and two-way information sharing. To disseminate information you can use a variety of other communication media, such as sending an e-mail or posting the information on your company's intranet. If you want to be certain you have delivered the right message, you can schedule a meeting to simply answer questions about the information you have sent. By remembering to ask yourself, "Is a meeting the best way to handle this?" you'll cut down on wasted meeting time and restore your group's belief that the meetings they attend are necessary. 2. Set Objectives for the Meeting Set objectives before the meeting! Before planning the agenda for the meeting, write down a phrase or several phrases to complete the sentence: By the end of the meeting, I want the group to… Depending on the focus of your meeting, your ending to the sentence might include phrases such as: …be able to list the top three features of our newest product, …have generated three ideas for increasing our sales, … understand the way we do business with customers, …leave with an action plan, …decide on a new widget supplier, or …solve the design problem. One benefit of setting objectives for the meeting is to help you plan the meeting. The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. A second important benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting. Were you successful in meeting the objectives? Why or why not? Is another meeting required? Setting meeting objectives allows you to continuously improve your effective meeting process. 3. Provide an Agenda Beforehand Provide all participants with an agenda before the meeting starts. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long. When you send the agenda, you should include the time, date and location of the meeting and any background information participants will need to know to hold an informed discussion on the meeting topic. What's the most important thing you should do with your agenda? Follow it closely! 4. Assign Meeting Preparation Give all participants something to prepare for the meeting, and that meeting will take on a new significance to each group member. For problem-solving meetings, have the group read the background information necessary to get down to business in the meeting. Ask each group member to think of one possible solution to the problem to get everyone thinking about the meeting topic. For example, to start a sales meeting on a positive note, have all participants recall their biggest success since the last meeting and ask one person to share his success with the group. For less formal meetings or brainstorming sessions, ask a trivia question related to the meeting topic and give the correct answer in the first few minutes of the meeting. These tips are sure-fire ways to warm up the group and direct participants' attention to the meeting objectives. 5. Assign Action Items Don't finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it. Listen for key comments that flag potential action items and don't let them pass by without addressing them during your meeting. Statements such as We should really…, that's a topic for a different meeting…, or I wonder if we could… are examples of comments that should trigger action items to get a task done, hold another meeting or further examine a particular idea. Assigning tasks and projects as they arise during the meeting means that your follow-through will be complete. Addressing off-topic statements during the meeting in this way also
allows you to keep the meeting on track. By immediately addressing these statements with the suggestion of making an action item to examine the issue outside of the current meeting, you show meeting participants that you value their input as well as their time. 6. Examine Your Meeting Process Assign the last few minutes of every meeting as time to review the following questions: What worked well in this meeting? What can we do to improve our next meeting? Every participant should briefly provide a point-form answer to these questions. Answers to the second question should be phrased in the form of a suggested action. For example, if a participant's answer is stated as Jim was too long-winded, ask the participant to re-phrase the comment as an action. The statement We should be more to-the-point when stating our opinions is a more constructive suggestion. Remember – don't leave the meeting without assessing what took place and making a plan to improve the next meeting!
Meeting Tips Summary
Don't Meet. Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report. Set Objectives for the Meeting. Before planning the agenda, determine the objective of the meeting. The more concrete your objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. Provide an Agenda Beforehand. Your agenda needs to include a one-sentence description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic for how long. Follow the agenda closely during the meeting. Assign Meeting Preparation. Give all participants something to prepare for the meeting, and that meeting will take on a new significance to each group member. Assign Action Items. Don't finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it. Examine Your Meeting Process. Don't leave the meeting without assessing what took place and making a plan to improve the next meeting. To meet or Not to meet! The biggest waste of time is meeting when it's not necessary. You'd be surprised by how many of your weekly meetings can be eliminated when you decide to meet only when it's absolutely necessary. Here are some tips for deciding if a meeting is worth your time. 1. Has a Goal Been Set for the Meeting? Is there a purpose for meeting, a goal to achieve? Every meeting should have an objective and if the one you've been asked to attend doesn't, consider recommending that a memo or e-mail be sent instead. 2. Has an Agenda Been Created Ahead of Time? An agenda is the basis for an effective meeting. Creating and distributing the meeting agenda one or two days before the meeting begins gives participants an opportunity to prepare for the meeting. Having an agenda during the meeting also focuses the discussion and helps your group stay on track. 3. Will the Appropriate People Be Attending? If the appropriate people aren't present, then important decisions get put on hold. It will also take time to update key individuals on what took place in the meeting they missed. It's better to put the meeting on hold until all of the right people can be in the room. 4. Could the Information Be Covered in an E-mail or Memo?
The purpose of most meetings is sharing information and updating others. If possible, make an effort to substitute these types of meetings with an e-mail or memo! Simply send one e-mail to all the people who would have attended the meeting. This will save everyone time, they'll still be up-to-date on what's happening and they'll be grateful for having one less meeting to attend that week. Mix Up Your Meeting If your traditional meeting recipe is becoming a little bland and boring, try spicing it up with one of our funky new alternatives. For Quick Updates, Try a Military Theme If you're meeting for a quick update rather than an in-depth discussion, try revamping your meeting as a military briefing session. The key is to keep it brief, focused and regimented. Clear out the boardroom chairs and have participants stand at attention. People are less likely to be long-winded when they're not nestled in a comfortable chair. Don't serve snacks. Some participants feel the need to drag the meeting out in order to justify their morning coffee break. -During round-table discussions, have the meeting leader do a roll call. If participants have something to add, they must do so in 15 seconds or less. If they don't, instruct them to just say "pass." -Put a 5-minute time limit on individual topics. Once the discussion goes over, move on. If the topic warrants further discussion, assign someone the task of scheduling a separate meeting. Cut the Fat on Internal Discussions by Banning Formal Presentations Before thousands of devoted PowerPoint fans start protesting, hear me out. Would-be presenters need to distinguish between internal discussions and formal meetings with outside participants. Computer-based presentations are a fantastic way of delivering information. But a complex presentation, complete with graphics and transition effects, often isn't necessary in a general discussion or strategy session. By banning formal presentations, you save time on preparation, equipment setup and delivery. Plus a lot of presenters feel the need to include comprehensive background information when they're composing their slides. If everyone in the meeting is familiar with the background this is a waste of time. Sweeten up Your Brainstorming Sessions In today's jaded corporate culture, it's often easier to criticize than to compliment. People tend to look for flaws in an idea rather than the merits. When this happens in a meeting, everyone wastes time arguing, rather than coming up with new ideas or strategies. To overcome this, have everyone say one positive comment before they criticize. If you're forced to focus on the positive, you might actually uncover a way that a particular proposal could work, instead of vetoing it because of a minor hiccup. Use a Talking Stick When There's Too Many Cooks This is an idea we've borrowed from Native-American Indians. The only person able to speak is the person holding the talking stick (feel free to substitute a tennis ball or stapler for an authentic talking stick). When a person has finished speaking, they pass the stick on. This is even more effective if you impose a time limit (e.g., participants have to pass the stick after three minutes). This ensures that everyone has their say and the meeting isn't dominated by one or two vocal participants. You'll also find that your meeting flows more smoothly when participants are forced to listen to one another instead of interrupting at will. For a One-on-One Discussion Try Take-Out For one-on-one discussions or updates, consider taking a walk instead of meeting in the office. If you're both away from the distractions of coworkers, phones and e-mail, you're more likely to concentrate on the issue at hand. If you've scheduled a half-hour meeting, walk for 15 minutes and then turn around. The
fresh air will revive you both and the change of scenery just might get your creative juices flowing. If you think you may forget important points, take a tape recorder along and record your conversation. Hopefully these suggestions will spice up your next meeting. Don't be afraid to break your routine. After all, the more creative your meeting, the more creative energy will be in the air! Make Meeting Fun When the average employee is asked to attend another meeting during their busy day, the natural response is to run like the wind – or at least fake a "scheduling conflict." It's hard to imagine meetings being considered "fun." But injecting a little fun into your meetings might be just the right thing to encourage participation and creativity. No one will be required to recite knock-knock jokes, wear silly costumes or balance a spoon on their nose, but a little laughter can go a long way towards improving productivity and employee morale. Unless the meeting is scheduled to deliver bad news, why not try a few of these ideas? Most people learn by doing. Whenever possible, include hands-on activities, live demonstrations, field trips, games, role-playing, etc. Don't be afraid to mix it up – variety is what keeps people interested. Bribery works! Organize contests to generate ideas and offer prizes to encourage participation. A little friendly competition can bring great results. If your meetings tend to be dominated by a few people, try passing out five pennies to each meeting attendee. Attendees must "spend" a penny each time they talk. And no borrowing allowed! Consider appointing a Director of Fun for meetings. The Director will be responsible for dreaming up participatory activities, bringing in additional fun materials (videos, comic strips, articles, snacks) that relate to the meeting topic. A different Director could be appointed for each meeting. For a fun change of pace, consider hosting a meeting in talk-show style. Have the speakers act as guests, attendees are audience members and the meeting facilitator can be the talk show host. The host will encourage the audience to ask questions and share their opinions on the speakers' comments. Having fun at the office leads to a more enjoyable workplace and increased employee loyalty. It's important to always provide employees with the caveat up front that they're free to decide to what extent they wish to participate. Some employees will warm up more slowly to an unconventional meeting style than others. It's not fun to have your meeting facilitator (or worse, your boss) breathing down your neck to hurry up and start enjoying yourself. People will participate when they're comfortable and relaxed. Remember, laughter stimulates blood flow, strengthens the immune system, reduces levels of hormones that create stress, and reduces pain perception (this is especially important when you're attending the sixth meeting of the day). Happy Meeting!
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