Ever wish your next meeting was longer? Ever wish you had more meetings scheduled on your calendar? Didn’t think so.
Here are 5 Tips to help you run better meetings.
Here at Vancouver TheatreSports we work with organizations of all sizes to transform their strategy meetings into super-charged brainstorming sessions. Over the years, we’ve developed an infrastructure that allows us to create and collaborate at a very high level. We apply these skills and techniques to the corporate world, showing our clients how what we do with improv is directly applicable to the work they’re doing and we adapt it to the culture they’re working within.
Ken Lawson, lead facilitator for the Improv Business Division at Vancouver TheatreSports and a seasoned improv actor, highlights 5 Tips for Better Meetings that you can apply to facilitate creativity and collaboration in your next meeting.
Tip #1) “Yes, And”
The foundation for a creative and collaborative meeting is trust; each attendee should know that they can contribute ideas freely, without judgment or obstacles being placed in their way by colleagues. As a team, committing to the principle of “Yes, And”, the core tenet that improvisation is based on, produces an environment where all ideas are accepted, supported and given a chance.
Tip #2) Active Listening
Try this at the start of your next strategy meeting. It’s an activity we call “Listen Better, Listen Worse”, highlighting the importance of being engaged when listening to others speak.
To facilitate the exercise, start by having one person speak to the group on a topic their passionate about (the Canucks, running, travel, etc.). Instruct the group who are listening to really engage, listening intently. After a minute or so, instruct the group to “listen worse,” or disengage. They can change to more passive body language, start checking their phones, looking around the room, shuffling their feet or walking away. Ask the speaker how they felt when the group was engaged, and how they felt when the group disengaged.
The listeners then learn active listening techniques, such as appropriate eye contact and using affirmatives and nodding, which encourages speakers to continue and forces listeners to be fully present in the conversation.
Tip #3) Get Rid of the Gadgets
Pretty straightforward. The Improv Mindset is all about being fully present. A group of meeting attendees all checking their phones at various times blocks that. Leave the phones at your desk.
Tip #4) Take a Breather
Effective two-way communication during a meeting requires moments of silence. Pause for a second before you reply to a question. It allows you to absorb what was said (active listening) and to organize your thoughts, resulting in clearer and more confident responses.
Tip #5) It’s About The Team
Great improv is about teamwork and making your fellow cast mates look good. Meetings can be so much more effective when attendees aren’t overly protective of their own ideas. The Improv Mindset is about being open to change and allowing your ideas to evolve based on the contributions of others. Clinging to your own contribution prevents you from recognizing other ideas from the group that might better solve the problem.
If everyone focuses on the “glory of the group”, understanding it’s not about having the best idea, but about collaborating to discover the best idea and solutions.
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