13 Surprising Ways to Ensure Meetings Go More Smoothly

Ah, meetings. The bread and butter of the corporate world. Some folks adore them; they’re a chance to show off that new presentation slide deck, after all. Others would rather endure a week-long rainstorm without an umbrella. Whether you’re the former or the latter, we’ve got some juicy tidbits that’ll make your meetings smoother than a freshly ironed shirt. So, let’s be done with the pre-amble and jump right in!

1. The Right Office Furniture

Have you ever tried sitting on a chair with one wonky leg for an hour? It’s torture. Investing in comfortable office furniture, especially meeting room tables, can be a game changer. Go for the sturdy, spacious ones. Not only do they scream ‘we’re professionals who care’, but they also offer enough space for laptops, documents, and that giant mug of tea you need to get through the stats. Plus, no more playing that “elbow jousting” game with your colleague next to you!

2. Start with a Bad Joke

No, seriously, I mean it. Beginning with a light-hearted (even if it’s groan-worthy) joke can break the ice and set a positive tone. “Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field!” Now, while half the room contemplates whether to laugh or sigh, they’re at least more relaxed.

3. The Two-Pizza Rule

Borrowed from the genius minds at some of the biggest global tech companies: If you can’t feed the meeting with two pizzas, it’s too big. Smaller groups ensure everyone’s voice is heard and decisions are made more quickly. So, next time you plan a meeting, keep the attendee list as short as the toppings list for two margheritas.

4. Use a Talking Stick (or Spoon or Pen)

Sounds primitive, but it’s effective! Only the person holding the “talking stick” can speak. This prevents interruptions and ensures everyone gets their turn. Though, be wary of that one colleague who might see this as an opportunity to perform their stand-up routine.

5. Schedule a ‘Dreaded’ 2 PM Slot

Studies suggest that we hit a productivity slump around 2 pm. Rather than resisting it, use it for meetings. It’ll give folks a break from solitary work, and the change of pace might just perk them up.

6. Stand-Up for Your Right… to Meet

Hold stand-up meetings. They’re shorter, more dynamic, and prevent that post-lunch drowsiness from hitting too hard. Plus, you’ll feel a tad bit more like you’re on a morning show. Just maybe leave the singing segment out.

7. Bring a Plant. Name It. Involve It

Research says greenery can boost mood in business. So, bring a plant into the meeting room. Give it a name – let’s say, Bertie. Whenever there’s an awkward silence or tension, ask for Bertie’s opinion. Sure, Bertie can’t talk back, but it’ll lighten the mood. “What’s that, Bertie? You think we should take a five-minute break? Great idea!”

8. Use More Visuals

People love images. Charts, infographics, memes – the lot. A picture speaks a thousand words, right? Plus, it gives everyone’s ears a break from Dave’s monotonous voice (sorry, Dave).

9. The Magic of Muffins

Bring snacks. It’s not bribery, it’s… er, strategic nourishment. Who can be grumpy when there’s a blueberry muffin in front of them?

10. Have a Clear Agenda

Surprisingly (or not), many meetings wander aimlessly because there’s no clear agenda. Distribute a set list of topics before the meeting. It’ll give colleagues a heads up on what’s coming and allow them to prep, ensuring you don’t drift into discussions about last night’s telly.

11. The ‘Escape Hatch’ Rule

Allow attendees to leave if they feel they’re not adding value or learning anything. It might sound odd, but it ensures only the necessary folks are there, and everyone’s time is respected.

12. Invest in Good Tech

If it’s a virtual meeting, ensure everyone has the right tech tools. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending half the meeting saying, “Can you hear me?”

13. Finish with ‘The One Thing’

End every meeting by asking each person for ‘one thing’ they’ll take away or act upon. It focuses minds and ensures something productive comes out of the time spent.

In the grand theatre of office life, meetings are the interludes. They can be a delightful break, a chance to collaborate, or they can be… well, less delightful. With a pinch of planning, a splash of humour, and yes, the right table to lean on, your meetings can be more Oscar-winning drama and less tedious soap opera. Happy meeting!


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