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Mix Up Your Meetings And Make Them More Productive

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Polly Weir
Director of Conference and Event Services
University of Delaware

Let’s face it, meetings can be dull and uninspiring. In our 30 years of experience, we’ve seen plenty of glazed-over eyes at our conference venues. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! We have three ideas that can dynamically reinvigorate your workplace congregations. The following trends are science-based and have proven to help combat boredom, improve focus and leave your attendees with something to remember.

The Power Pose

Imagine a group of adults getting up out of their chairs and assuming a positive posture, in the middle of a meeting, after reading the words “Power Pose”. Studies have proven that holding your body in a positive “power” posture for short periods of time can give you a nice little jolt of good vibes, a sense of well being and reduced stress. If you are still a little skeptical, this idea is presented in a TED talk , which means that people much smarter than us believe in the potential of the pose. The research discussed in the talk suggests that in as little as two minutes, you can alter your body’s chemistry enough to receive some serious benefits. This is great for both the presenter AND the attendees of your meetings. Examples of a power pose are, the “Super Hero” (assume a wide stance with hands on hips and chin up), the “Sun Pose” (assume a wide stance with arms spread above the head and chin up), and the “Business Pose” (legs on the table leaning back in a chair with hands behind the head). Pose at the beginning of the presentation, take a break and pose in the middle, or even at the end. The goal is to relieve stress and inject some positive energy and confidence into the proceedings. The fact that you’ll be doing it with your peers, and your boss, adds a level of humor that can only add more levity to the assembly. So, during your next boardroom gathering, take some time to find your inner Superman or Wonder Woman and then go over those spreadsheets!

The Primal Scream

If you like the concept of power posing, you may consider taking it a step further. The concept of the primal scream is part of trauma-based psychotherapy , which was created by American psychologist Arthur Janov. It involves repressed pain from past trauma. Luckily, our use of it won’t be nearly as intense. The more practical and simple idea is that screaming out loud, even for short periods, has the ability to reduce stress. The name of the game when trying to reduce stress is to produce endorphins and a good scream every once in a while is a great way to get a quick fix. A primal scream exercise at the beginning of a meeting can be cathartic for your participants. The result is a mellow audience, primed and ready to dig in. This is beneficial for the presenter and those listening. And, even more than your power posing, you and a roomful of other adults screaming out loud in a small conference room together is hilarious. What better way to break the ice and grab everyone’s attention? Also, if you like being on the cutting edge, studies show swearing out loud is another viable way to reduce stress in the workplace. So, make sure the door is closed and go ahead, start your meeting off with a good dose of unnecessarily loud profanity and then go over those quarterly reviews!

Gamification

If what we have suggested so far doesn’t work for your particular group, this one is sure to be a winner. One of the biggest problems facing business’ these days is lack of employee engagement. If your employees aren’t engaged, then it’s tough to be an innovative, efficient company. When you think about it, where better to spawn excitement, innovation and creativity than at your meetings. One of the trendy answers to the problem of engagement nowadays is gamification. Wikipedia defines gamification as “ the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”. In practical terms, that means give your employees some motivation to be there and eager to receive the information you want disseminated. Ways to incorporate gamificatio n into your meetings include: use of apps, icebreakers, trust exercises, arts and crafts (seriously), and, in our opinion the best, word games. In one example of a word game, don’t tell your people a problem, ask or challenge them to think the opposite of the problem you present to them. This is an exceptional exercise because it gets your employees thinking differently and keeps them engaged. Check out the science behind it. In the end, if people are having fun while still accomplishing work and retaining the information you are delivering, that is a super positive way to operate a meeting. So, try incorporating gamification at the start of your next meeting. Why not play human bingo and find out who in the office has been backpacking across Europe? Then, you’ll all be engaged enough to sink those teeth into some pie charts!

We hope you’ve found this information helpful and it has you thinking differently about your next meeting. We say, go for it! Incorporate something new. All of these suggestions will inject fun into your workday. And, after all, who doesn’t need a little fun in their day? No matter which one you choose, it could end up being a meeting to remember.


Polly Weir is the Director of Conference and Event Services at the University of Delaware. She is also an adjunct professor in the Hospitality Business Management program and a fitness instructor for Employee Health and Wellbeing at UD. She and her team of talented event professionals manage conferences and events on campus. UD Conference and Event Services not only plans events for the UD community, but it also welcomes local businesses, associations, and organizations to campus by providing top-notch service in a unique environment.

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