Meetings have developed a bad reputation over the years for being unproductive and distracting. Too often, the meetings we run can stifle creativity and leave attendees feeling bored or even aggrieved that their time was wasted. Entrepreneur even suggests that Meetings Are One of the Worst Business Rituals. Ever.
While any meeting should be avoided if it’s redundant, unnecessary, or undefined, there are still situations where a meeting is the best possible option.
Try these alternatives to traditional meetings to motivate your team and spark creativity across your organization.
Always keep in mind that if a meeting needs to take place, there must be a purpose, an agenda, and a clear start and end. The traditional meeting alternatives below will help maximize focus and minimize the length of your meetings.
1. Go for a walk
Try the walking meeting.
The movement will focus your collective energy, and if you have a destination set, you’ll have a clear end to your meeting once you arrive.
Recent research finds that the act of walking leads to thinking more creatively too.
💡 Read the full Stanford University report:
Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking
This strategy is great for two or three people that need to catch up, but want to remain on the go. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise. When assigning or scheduling a walking meeting, make sure you find out if everyone is willing and able.
📚 Here’s more on how to do walking meetings right from Harvard Business Review.
2. Meet in a park
Change up your surroundings with a meeting in the park.
Don’t underestimate the physical and mental health benefits of fresh air. Spending time outside can improve your immune system, blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and overall happiness.
This type of meeting is great for small groups, especially ones that are stuck on a specific problem or challenge. The fresh air and new environment could inspire ideas you never considered before.
Make sure your group or team is interested and able before assigning an outdoor meeting. Don’t forget about a back up plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
3. Get Out Into Your Community
Bring your team out into your organization’s community. Get out to a local restaurant or coffee shop and support local.
Your community partners will appreciate it, and the new environment may even spark your next big idea or give you insight into your latest challenge.
On special occasions, Overlap holds wrap-up meetings at local restaurants or cafes, which offers a change of scenery and a chance to interact with the Downtown Kitchener community.
4. Start solo
One of Overlap’s first strategies for ideation is Start Solo.
Quickly get to the point of your meeting and reach everyone there by generating ideas individually first. Post-its work great for this process, allowing each person to take a few minutes to generate ideas by themselves before opening up to the group.
The process generates diverse ideas, allows everyone to contribute solutions, improves the experience for participants, and saves time!
You can use the starting solo strategy at the end of meetings too. If you have a final question, instead of opening it up to a discussion, which takes time and focuses on the loudest in the room, ask everyone to start solo. Give everyone the opportunity to write down their ideas on a post-it and collect them so that they can be reviewed. With this strategy, everyone can get back to their work, and you’ll be left with a large collection of ideas from many different perspectives.
📚 Learn more in 6 Reasons to Start Solo in Idea Generation.
Want to draw attention to the length of your meeting? Try standing.
Make it fun! If people are able, try standing for the duration, the second half, or just the conclusion of your meeting.
The British Psychological Society shares research that says, “In a typical working week, people spend on average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk and 7 hours sleeping at night. Prolonged sitting at your desk is not only bad for your physical health, but potentially your mental well-being.”
Other benefits of sitting less include lower risk of obesity, better posture, reduced cancer risk, and longer lifespan. Learn more about the benefits of standing from Huffington Post.
Control the length of your meeting and reap the health benefits! Kick it up and stimulate creativity by walking on the spot.
It’s important to make this an optional activity, in case anyone has a reason they either can’t or don’t want to stand.
For physically active teams, try testing the boundaries of your meeting.
Can you complete an entire team update while in the plank position? Are you able to speed up summaries by doing jumping jacks through the conclusion of your meeting?
William Liu and his team shorten their daily stand-up by going beyond standing. Read more about daily plank meetings.
Zettabox has tried it too.
What other physical activity could your team try?
Have you tested any other alternatives to traditional meetings? Let us know!
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