Rule 5 of Management: Make Meetings Fun
- Sep 23, 2005
"Don't tell me you lost your sense of humor already?"
—Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
I guess that when you were working your way up to your illustrious position of today you had to sit through many interminable meetings, all boring, all stupifyingly dull. Well, the pattern has to be broken somewhere, and I'm relying on you to break it. The old ways of doing meetings has to stop, and you're the very person to do it.
So let's make 'em fun. Now, before we go on, I remember a tip I read somewhere. Basically you were supposed to give out five coins to each meeting member and when they wanted to speak they had to spend a penny. Once they had used up their coins they were done and couldn't say anything more. It was supposed to make people really cautious about speaking and reluctant to spend all their coins on trivial topics. Fun? Maybe. But it would also get you quite a reputation as a fool and/or an ineffectual meeting leader—as would other suggestions, such as the following:
- Food and/or drink (unless it's lunchtime, in which case that's functional, not fun; or if you take your team out to a restaurant or to a bar, and then it's not a meeting, it's a bonding session—or a thank you, of course: see Rule 17)
- Games, quizzes, or contests of any type
- Having small surprises such as chocolates hidden under the chairs
- A talking stick (don't ask—a New Age Californian thing)
- Letting the most junior member chair the meeting.
All of these head toward farce, ruin, and idiocy. Don't go there.
So how can you lighten things up without looking like a fool? Well, for a start fun doesn't have to mean silly or stupid or unfunny.
Fun means not being stuffy, allowing people to be themselves and to bring their own contribution. Fun means allowing people to share things that have made them laugh without being frowned on. Fun is about letting people tell stories or anecdotes that lighten the mood. (Just know when to say, "Okay, back to work.") Fun means being flexible enough to allow other suggestions as to where and how you all meet. Perhaps your organization has a great boardroom—could you meet there? Or outside if the weather is good.
The confident manager—that's you—can be flexible because they are relaxed and cool and confident. The stuffy manager is frightened because they feel insecure and seek a rigid approach to prop up their lack of self-confidence.