|TIPS FOR CONDUCTING CREATIVE & PRODUCTIVE MEETINGS|
According to a Wall Street Journal survey, meetings account for the greatest amount of unproductive time topping telephone calls, e-mails, paperwork, travels and office gossips.
Despite the advent of advanced telecommunications technology, there is still no escape from meetings. Meetings are essential for the conduct of any business. The problem is how to make meetings more efficient, productive and effective.
There are many kinds of meetings briefings, presentations, problem-solving and idea generation. This article will only provide tips for meetings devoted to problem-solving and idea generation. They are based on successful practices of innovative companies.
Humour is probably the best method for relieving stress, improving health and opening up the mind. The beneficial effects of humour have been proven by scientific studies. It can even heal incurable diseases as revealed by Norman Cousins in his book, “ The Anatomy of a Disease” He literally laughed his way back to health by checking into a hotel and spent all his time watching TV comedy shows like the American Funniest Home Videos and Candid Camera.
Humor is an excellent way to open up the minds of attendees prior to a meeting. Studies have confirmed that a few laughs preceding a meeting will render it more productive in generating ideas. The ten to fifteen minutes spent on warming up and opening up the mind is really worthwhile.
Among the ways to introduce humour in a meeting are:
If the purpose of your meeting is to come out with ideas for new designs or products, the props are great for stimulating creativity. Place props relevant to meeting around the meeting room. Give time for the attendees to hold them, feel them and to play with them. There is nothing like a sensual experience to get the creative juices flowing!
For example, if the meeting is to design a new toy, then place different toys in the meeting room. Let the attendees play with them before and during the meeting.
If the objective of your meeting is to plan a sales campaign, then place the sales campaign materials of your previous campaigns and those from other companies in the same or adjoining room. It could be in the form of news cuttings, advertisement, posters, video-tapes and the actual products themselves. The meeting will take on a whole new dimension.
Frequently meetings are confined to those who are directly involved with the specific agenda of the meeting. For instance, if the meeting is about production, most likely, only the production people are called to attend the meeting. The result is tunnel vision or thinking inside the box.
An effective way to counter this is to invite people form other departments to attend the meeting. They could include sales, marketing, administration and frontline workers. You may even invite your customers to the meeting.
The principle is simple. If you are part of the forest, you will see only other trees within the forest and not the forest itself. It needs an outsider to give a better perspective of your operation. That is why even giant global corporations with all its in- house expertise still need external consultants. When such companies are in trouble, they usually source for a new CEO who is in a new perspective to the problem.
Outsiders may not have the knowledge and experience. But they can ask so-called “naive” questions that will trigger off thinking in a new direction.
The venue for meetings is very important. If meetings are always held at the same place, there is a tendency to say the same thing and think the same way. One way to get off this situation is to hold meetings at different venues.
There are many possibilities:
The possibilities are endless. It is up to you to create the right environment. You may even occasionally surprise them such as holding a meeting in the jungle, by the beach or on a cruise ship. You need not spend a lot of money. All you need is some creativity in selecting the venue.
The above are just a sampling of the ways in which innovative companies conduct their meetings to generate new ideas to fuel their phenomenal growth. Is your company ready to conduct its meetings differently? I hope this article will provide you with some food for thought.
Overall, meetings should be fun and enjoyable. Those attending the meeting should be imbued with infectious enthusiasm. Your company will then become known as a fun company and creative people will flock to work for you. These are the gold-collar workers who will propel your company to a path of sustainable prosperity.
*The author, Dr. Yew Kam Keong is an international speaker, trainer and consultant on creativity. His clients include multinational corporations in Malaysia and other countries in the region. He is the best-selling author of the book: YOU ARE CREATICE – LET YOUR CREATIVITY BLOOM.
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