Make meetings more engaging

People on average can concentrate for about 12 minutes. In the same way a piece of writing is made easier to read by adding a picture or chart, your event will be more engaging by adding some movement or interaction. So, if you’re planning a team meeting or a learning event that will last longer, it pays to break the session down into chunks with a separate focus.

This can be as simple as moving onto a new topic or agenda item, but you can build in clever and more natural shifts with a little planning. Switching off an OHP, standing up and moving to present from a different area of the room, or sitting down to join delegates in an eye level discussions are really simple examples.

People also get a quick concentration-refresh if they adjust their focus, perspective or seating in a meeting room. This works if they’re getting twitchy, or equally concerning, getting too comfortable and distracted. A little prep and some tips can enhance your meeting and keep the environment interesting for everyone.

A deck of cards is a handy prop. Pre arrange a suit mix to fit the groups you want, and then get people to pick cards. If you’re there for the day, be clever about it and preset advanced groups for later by building in options. Matching cards (all 7’s over here please), matching suits (ok, one suit at each table corner), high cards, low cards, odds and evens all work well, you get the idea. There are stacks of ways you can divide into syndicate groups, a bag of coloured beads or sweets, or even coffee-stirrers broken off at different lengths all work, and are more fun than just counting people off.

When brainstorming, throw a small ball around as a device to get people involved and draw out opinions, whoever catches the ball gets to share their suggestions and choose to the next person. Make a ball anywhere from a couple of scrunched old flips with some tape around.

If you have someone over eager, or contributing too much (know what I mean!), use their energy in a positive way by inviting them to flip ideas for you. Never be afraid to give praise with one stroke, then ask ‘Who Else has an opinion on Jeff’s point?’.

These tips can go a long way in making your group time energetic and productive. But use them in your own planning rather than springing them in someone else’s meeting!

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