Ever been in a poorly run or terribly dull meeting? You know, the type that might cause you to pull your hair out or slip into a coma?
Yeah, I thought so—we all have. And these days, it seems we’re all in way too many of them. One study found that executives dedicate an average of approximately 23 hours per week to meetings, a significant increase (more than doubled) from the time they spent in meetings back in the 1960s.
Meetings aren’t inherently bad. They’re crucial for communicating and collaborating as a team. This is especially true in today’s world of remote work. A weekly or bi-weekly check-in can be a crucial time to connect with coworkers, get aligned on priorities and generate new ideas.
But while meetings are essential for collaboration, they can become counterproductive when they’re unfocused, uninteresting, unauthentic, unfun and un… everything else. After all, your team’s time and energy are extremely valuable. Why have a meeting if it’s not contributing positively to project outcomes, relationships or org culture?
Hundreds of studies tell us that people will learn and retain more from engaging, enjoyable and interactive experiences. In one study, researchers found that students learned more from hands-on learning than from traditional lectures.
TL;DR: The more we can get people interacting, expressing themselves, smiling, laughing and connecting, the better our meeting outcomes will be.
So, team leaders, let’s look at how to bring a little more fun and engagement into our next group gatherings. Here are eight ways you could make meetings less frown and more fun!
1. Bring on the tunes.
Swifties versus Arianators! The Beatles versus the Rolling Stones! Tupac versus Biggie Smalls! Playing some tunes at the beginning of a meeting can create a lively atmosphere and spark fun conversations. Upbeat music can boost mood and motivation, making participants more receptive and engaged. It can also serve as a subtle signal to mark transitions or indicate different meeting segments, adding a touch of fun and creativity to the overall meeting experience.
2. Begin with a fun icebreaker.
Are icebreakers cringe? Not if they’re good! Starting a meeting with a fun activity helps people connect, especially if participants don’t know each other or if the meeting is virtual. Icebreakers encourage team members to interact, laugh and share personal stories or experiences. This sets a positive tone for the meeting, promotes a sense of camaraderie and creates a relaxed and welcoming environment. Need inspo for some fun icebreakers? Here’s a list!
3. Gamify it.
Instead of catching people playing Candy Crush on their phones, try infusing elements of video games into the meeting! Incorporating game-like activities such as quizzes, trivia or challenges can add an element of friendly competition and engagement. Participants are more likely to actively participate, collaborate and retain information when they are immersed in a game-like environment, making the meeting more fun and memorable.
4. Drop a dad joke.
You know a dad joke is good when you hear, “Ughhhhh!” Humor is a powerful tool for engagement and fostering a positive atmosphere. Starting the meeting with a dad joke can lighten the mood and relieve tension. Humor stimulates creativity and helps participants feel more comfortable expressing themselves, contributing to a more enjoyable and productive meeting experience.
5. Use gifs or memes to emphasize a point.
The internet is full of hilarious memes and gifs at your disposal. These visual aids can be used to convey messages or emphasize key points during a meeting. These visual elements add a touch of humor, relatability and creativity, capturing participants’ attention and making the content more memorable. By incorporating visual humor, the meeting becomes more engaging, lighthearted and entertaining.
6. Tell a quick story.
Humans have been telling stories forever, and for good reason. Sharing a brief and relevant personal or anecdotal story can captivate participants’ attention and bring a human element to the meeting. Stories create emotional connections and help illustrate key ideas or concepts in a relatable manner.
7. Do some group brainstorming.
Incorporating group brainstorming activities during a meeting encourages active participation and collaboration. By giving everyone a chance to contribute their ideas, opinions and solutions, it fosters a sense of ownership and engagement among participants. Group brainstorming stimulates creativity, promotes diverse perspectives and generates innovative solutions, ultimately making the meeting more productive, interactive and fun.
8. Incorporate something crafty or creative.
Integrating crafty or creative activities into a meeting can boost engagement and stimulate innovative thinking. Participants can engage in hands-on activities like visual note-taking, mind mapping or collaborative artwork. These activities tap into different learning styles, encourage active participation and provide a creative outlet for expressing ideas.
Which of these interactive approaches will you try at your next team get-together? Give it a go! Using one or more of these strategies can bring your meetings from frown to fun!
This article was originally published on Forbes.