Friday, May 06, 2011

How to run a marathon... meeting

I’ve been thinking more about the benefits of nature stuff I wrote about yesterday – contrasted with the draining meetings I sat through for three days. Got me thinking that perhaps there are better ways to organize these type of marathon meetings most of us have to attend in the course of our careers.

For example:

1) If possible, hold the meetings somewhere outside of the city - and if you manage to get such a location, then purposefully, pointedly, make the most of it. Outdoor walks should be practically mandatory – blizzard conditions aside. Walking in the rain can be just as much, if not more, rejuvinating than walking under sunny skies.

2) Begin each day with something positive and not work related i.e. simple relaxation exercises or those silly ice-breaker games that everyone rolls their eyes at but which actually make people laugh and do, in the end, break the ice.

3) I learned from a great facilitator that one should never underestimate the positive impact of providing snacks and beverages. Coming into a meeting room where there is food laid out, coffee and tea served hot, immediately puts people at ease. But if the meetings are long and spread over days, I think it is in everyone’s best interests to make sure meals and snacks are healthy. Sitting in the same room all day with only sugary sweets and caffeine to get you through has even the most tolerant people on edge.

4) If possible, change rooms for different sessions – or at least make everyone get up, stretch and move around before sitting back down. Even making people change seating arrangements in the room can help stimulate new ideas and break the boredom.

5) I’ve sat through so many meetings for which the planners were so concerned about getting everything on the agenda addressed that the days were crammed, breaks were cut short, and sessions inevitably ran over. I think organizations would get more accomplished in the big scheme of things if they were willing to trim a little off the agendas and focus more on building a positive atmosphere for those items which really do need to be addressed.

I’m just getting started.

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