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Business meetings can quickly become dull and repetitive, which can make them less effective. Adding a bit of fun or unexpected activity to the mix can get meeting participants enthused and add a spark that can boost creativity and jump-start brainstorming and productive discussion.
Rather than standard coffee, tea and donuts, add some fun to meeting snacks by doing something different, like hosting a build-your-own taco bar or ice cream station. This kind of unexpected and whimsical approach will be a pleasant diversion that lets colleagues mingle and relax before diving into the meeting topics.
Draw names for door prizes to get everyone's attention. Use fun giveaways like a paid vacation day, a prime office parking spot or even office logoed merchandise like t-shirts or coffee mugs. Draw several names throughout the course of the meeting to keep everyone's attention and maintain high spirits.
If you have a small enough group, ask participants to come to the meeting prepared to tell a quick, clean joke before the start of the meeting. Vote on the best one and give that person a kitschy prize like an oversized candy bar or a bag of gourmet coffee. If you have a large group, draw names to pick the joke teller.
Take it Outside
If you have pleasant outdoor space around your work environment and the weather permits, hold a meeting outside on occasion. Everyone will benefit from the fresh air and change of environment. Encourage a brown bag lunch or potluck snacks and drinks to change-up the setting.
Combine a meeting with a team-building field trip. Hold your meeting at a bowling alley and then bowl a few games or go to a miniature golf course, conduct your meeting in the snack bar, then play a round of golf.
Pass the Gavel
Change-up the meeting dynamic by letting different participants run the meeting. This works best if you're following an agenda, and the slight change-up allows everyone to take a turn in a leadership role and alters the flow of the meeting.
For long meetings, take regular breaks. Play a quick game of Pictionary or 20 Questions to reset brains and give everyone a mental break. Hold a doodling contest where everyone has 60 seconds to draw an imaginary creature or see how many words he can devise using the letters in the company name.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.