Meetings can be rough.
And boring meetings? Don’t get us started.
We get that meetings are necessary — they’re good ways to congregate, plan, decide, and problem-solve, but they can quickly become boring, unproductive, and turn into debates on whether Starbucks baristas are misspelling your name on purpose or not, which isn’t helpful to anyone (unless you’re a conspiracy theorist).
The thing is, meetings don’t have to be boring. There are no fixed rules that people have to follow. Organizations can create engaging meetings so that teams are actively present, listening, and contributing.
Here at JotForm, we keep our meetings to a minimum and figured out a thing or two about how to make them more interesting. Learn how to avoid a boring meeting with these five tips.
1. Use laughter
Laughter is the best medicine, and for good reason — it has many proven mental health benefits, such as easing anxiety, relieving stress, and boosting mood.
Most meetings begin as soon as everyone sits down, so teammates don’t usually have a chance to shift their mindset from what they were doing before to being fully present in the meeting. Maybe someone was crunching numbers for hours or nose deep writing an article and their energy level is low, making them less likely to contribute effectively.
A good way to get everyone on the same page before you jump into the meeting is to make them laugh. Something as simple as a funny cat video or clip from Saturday Night Live will perk everyone up, enhance their moods, and get them ready to talk business.
2. Walk instead of sit
Like kombucha on tap and in-house massage therapists, walking meetings are all the rage in Silicon Valley. Though these types of meetings are popular, we like to think that our CEO, Aytekin, started them before they were considered cool. Aytekin is known for walking down San Francisco’s Embarcadero with new hires so he can get to know them and talk about their ideas for JotForm.
It turns out that Aytekin was onto something. According to Inc., walking meetings have numerous benefits, such as higher employee energy, better collaboration, and stronger connections. Steve Jobs was also a firm believer in walking meetings, especially when he met someone new.
Walking helps overcome creative blocks and improves mood, which is ideal for teams that need to think outside of the box or work through a tough problem.
These types of meetings are also proven to increase teams’ engagement and interest in the tasks at hand. Harvard Business Review surveyed 150 working American adults and found that “those who participate in walking meetings are 8.5% more likely to report high levels of engagement.”
Better yet, walking is cost-effective and a great way to step away from your desk for a few minutes, while still being productive.
3. Only talk about what’s necessary
Oftentimes, employees get bored in meetings because there are too many topics, making it difficult to concentrate on everything.
A good rule is to invite only key people to your meetings, and once you begin, only talk about what’s necessary. Jeff Bezos has mastered this with his two-pizza team rule where he maxes the meeting’s capacity at the number of people who can be fed two pizzas. His idea cuts back on too many differing opinions and helps teams stay on track while meeting with one another.
Another reason team members get bored in meetings is because of the dreaded status update. Status updates were important before technology because that was the only way to check in on assignments. But like many things that were popular before technology, status updates are antiquated.
With work-tracking apps like Asana and Trello, teams now have full transparency of projects. They can see a project’s step-by-step process from the comfort of their own desks, which is more efficient and effective than meeting in person to give a general update.
In-person meetings should be reserved for important matters, such as planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. Additionally, making sure that teammates stay on topic will keep everyone listening and engaged throughout.
4. Bring goodies to share
Bringing treats to meetings is the oldest trick in the book that’s still used today. It works because people love food. Back in the day, popular meeting goodies were doughnuts and coffee, which was believed to keep employees engaged. But it turns out that sugar and caffeine are actually a recipe for disaster.
According to LIVESTRONG, “The effects of combining sugar and caffeine are devastating on the body. The blood glucose levels soar and then crash shortly thereafter, and when combined with caffeine, the enormous surge of energy from the sugar and the stimulant in caffeine lead to a crash of blood sugar within hours.”Instead of sugary treats, try bringing healthy snacks to share. Protein-rich snacks boost cognitive ability and increase the production of neurotransmitters that regulate concentration and alertness.
Even though too much sugar and caffeine isn’t ideal for the body, dark chocolate is okay every now and then. Dark chocolate increases dopamine levels, which is never a bad thing to have when problem-solving or discussing tough issues.
A good, safe snack option is hummus with carrots, tomatoes, and crackers. This is great for getting a protein-infused mental energy boost that’s also vegetarian-friendly. (We keep hummus and crackers on hand at our SF office at all times!)
5. Skip your meeting altogether
As we mentioned before, meetings are important, but not all of the time. Our last tip is to really think hard about having a meeting before you send an invite. Ask yourself if the meeting will truly be beneficial, and if there’s any doubt in your mind, it might be better to skip it all together.
Will these tips help you avoid a boring meeting? Let us know in the comments below!