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Anti-blog - Why do my team meetings feel like a high school gym class?

Updated: May 9

Overload schedule

There it is, the little (insert UI color) square in your calendar.

It comes back every Monday morning. They know it. You do too.

That inevitable number of seconds, soon to be taken away from your busy and draining work schedule. We’ve heard it was scheduled in fact just to annoy you even more.

“How was your weekend?”

“It was two days, how was yours?”

Now don’t be stupid.

You love this job, let’s get to it.

Why Do My Recurring Meetings Feel Like a High School Gym Class?

Here, we will be dissecting the similarities between two seemingly unrelated experiences – team meetings and a high school gym class – where few participate, some merely attend, and others have perfected the art of disappearing. We'll tackle the issue from three different angles and try to shed light on how to transform your recurring meetings into engaging and productive sessions.

  • Is the agenda valuable to the audience?

  • Is everyone given an opportunity to pitch in and/or share thoughts?

  • Do you look like you died yesterday? Be the energizer!

Is the Agenda Valuable to the Audience?

Remember those repetitive exercises that didn't serve any purpose other than exhausting you? If your team meeting feels the same way, it's time to question the value of the agenda.

Like a gym class improves physical health, your recurring team meetings should enhance your team's performance and foster collaboration.

Here's how to assess if your meeting agenda is truly valuable to the audience:

  1. Clear Objectives: Your meetings should have a well-defined purpose, just like a gym class should have clear planning. You don’t want people hiding in the corner and pretending to play. Are you gathering to discuss project updates, brainstorm ideas, or make important decisions? Fuzzy objectives contribute to disengagements in participants.

  2. Relevance: Consider whether the topics on the agenda are relevant to the audience. Are you addressing issues that impact everyone's work, or is it a laundry list of updates that could be handled more efficiently through other means? Optimized agendas prioritize what matters most to the team, and this changes over time!

  3. Engagement Potential: Meetings that engage and challenge you are more enjoyable. Your agenda should stimulate discussion and collaboration to avoid turning the reunion into a one-way monologue. Sharing the meeting’s responsibilities will encourage active participation with other team members.

  4. Prioritization: Not all exercises are equally important. Ensure that time is spent on high-priority items. Valuable agendas allocate sufficient time to crucial discussions and decisions. On the opposite, anticipate unnecessary meetings and free your team’s time for more important endeavours.

You want team sessions that add real value to your team's goals, energizing and empowering them, facilitating an increase in overall productivity while effectively aligning team efforts.

A valuable agenda sets the stage for a productive meeting and ensures that participants are not just attending but actively engaging in the discussions.

Is Everyone Given an Opportunity to Pitch in And/or Share Thoughts?

Speaking Time Distribution

Now who doesn’t remember being picked last at a certain sport? Thinking back, gym class activities didn’t give everyone a fair chance at playing. In team meetings, this discrepancy in participation can be equally frustrating. To break free from this syndrome, ensure that everyone has an opportunity to pitch in and share their thoughts.

Here's how you can do that:

  1. Equal Airtime: Star athletes shouldn't hog all the attention. Team meetings should provide opportunities for every participant to speak. Ensure no single voice dominates the conversation if others struggle to get a word in.

  2. Encourage Diverse Perspectives: Not everyone excels at the same sport. Similarly, your team members have diverse skills and perspectives. Encourage different viewpoints and ensure that all voices are valued, even if they don't speak as loudly.

  3. Open Dialogue: Create a safe and open environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Encourage questions, suggestions, and constructive criticism. Even the quietest members will feel empowered to contribute.

  4. Assign Roles: Consider assigning specific roles or responsibilities for different team members in each meeting. This helps distribute the responsibility for facilitating and engaging others, ensuring everyone has part to play.

  5. Follow Up: Just as you'd check in on a classmate, follow up with team members after the meeting to ensure they have opportunities to further discuss their ideas or concerns. This demonstrates that you value their input beyond the meeting room.

Promoting active participation is ensuring everyone's voice is heard. Can you transform your meetings into a more inclusive and engaging experience and break free from creating this déjà-vu gym feeling? This approach will not only lead to more meaningful discussions but also boost team creativity and morale.

Do You Look Like You Died Yesterday? Be the Energizer!

Back in the days, some gym students were naturally more enthusiastic and energetic, while others would have loved to be anywhere else. In team meetings, you can tell who's engaged and who's just going through the motions.

To breathe life into your meetings and ensure it doesn’t feel like a funeral, make sure you are alive and energetic, and consider the following aspects:

  1. Meeting Timing: Pay attention to when you schedule your meetings. Early Monday morning meetings can be met with groans and disengaged team members. Opt for times when your team is usually more alert and focused.

  2. Agenda Clarity: A vague or overly detailed agenda can lead to confusion and disinterest. Make sure your meeting agenda is concise, clear, and provides context. This can help participants feel more prepared and motivated.

  3. Energy Boosters: Just as a good warm-up in gym class gets the blood flowing, consider incorporating interactive activities or icebreakers into your meetings. These can kickstart energy levels and foster engagement.

  4. Respect for Time: Respecting your team's time is paramount. Keep meetings concise, stick to the agenda, and avoid going off on tangents. This is work, not fondue, nobody likes to feel that their time is being wasted.

  5. Visuals and Media: Incorporating visuals, multimedia, or interactive tools can help keep team members engaged. Engaging visuals can break up the monotony of endless slide presentations and keep participants attentive.

  6. Follow-up Actions: Ensure that meetings lead to tangible outcomes and clear action items. When participants see that their time and input result in meaningful progress, they are more likely to stay engaged and enthusiastic.

By addressing these factors, you can prevent your team meetings from resembling a gathering of uninspired individuals. Instead, they will become opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and shared purpose, reflecting the enthusiasm and energy that should be the hallmark of effective team communication.

Rhetorical Question Farley

Remember, a lively and engaging meeting is not only more productive but also more enjoyable for everyone involved.

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