Dear Meeting Guru,

I need to make my meetings more fun! I have a large group of technical people for whom I plan meetings and they seem so bored. How can I build humor and fun into our meetings?

Carol Lareau-Barlow

Blessed Meeter,

Try implementing comics, games or toys in your next meeting. Snacks work well too. Basically, the more informal your meetings, the more fun they'll be to attend. Who decided that meetings have to be serious to be successful anyway?

For a small dose of humor, show a comic strip related to each agenda item or topic you introduce. Dilbert is great for poking fun at meetings and other aspects of corporate life. If comic strips aren't an option, share humorous quotes from famous people during your meetings. The Internet has a plethora of sites dedicated to famous quotes, so finding something that relates directly to your agenda topic will be quick and easy.

A simple game involving a soft, small ball will not only help your group generate more ideas, but will also emphasize the importance of engaging in active participation during a discussion. Begin by throwing the ball to a participant, that person must comment on the subject at hand and then throws it to another participant. Each time the ball is thrown around the room, another comment or suggestion is made. This encourages every participant to contribute to the meeting discussion and provides a variety of perspectives on the issue at hand. Notice the spontaneity, smiles and overall involvement generated in the room when the entire group participates. This game is particularly effective for brainstorming sessions, since the excitement generated in the room will encourage individuals to think creatively.

Contests or quizzes are other methods of getting your group excited about its meetings. If your meeting objective is to introduce new information, let them know there will be a quiz on the content you're going to present. At the end of your presentation, ask the group questions about the content you've just presented. Whoever provides the correct answer first, receives a prize. Not only will this generate some excitement, but you can guarantee that fewer people will be daydreaming during your presentation!

Food is another useful device for generating excitement in your meetings. Before your meeting, tape, for example, individually-wrapped chocolates under the participants' chairs. After welcoming people to the meeting, tell the group they have "surprises" under their chairs. Everyone enjoys surprises, no matter how small! Not only is this a nice way of saying "welcome" to the meeting, but it's also an inexpensive way to create a fun and exciting tone for the meeting ahead.

I hope these suggestions will help create some excitement in your meeting room – after all, I always like to help. A quote by Confucius adequately parallels my role as the Meeting Guru, "Do I possess knowledge? No, I do not possess it. Yet if even simple men come to ask a question of me, I clear my mind completely and thoroughly investigate the matter from one end to the other." In other words, I'm happy to provide helpful meeting solutions for you and your group. However, the best solution to your individual meeting dilemma resides within yourself and the meeting participants! Ask your group to make written suggestions about how they might make your meetings more productive and fun. You may be surprised by the quality and quantity of responses you get!

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.



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